For centuries, rumors have circulated in England that Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell did not die of natural causes. Now, in a fascinating book that reads like a historical whodunit, we have a motive, a means, a murderer (complete with his own deathbed confession), and a supporting cast that includes John Milton and Andrew Marvell.
Almost from the moment of Cromwell's death in 1658, writers and biographers have dismissed suspicions of foul play as little more than the result of a powerful person's unexpected demise. They have assumed that at age fifty-nine Cromwell was in generally poor health and that his government's collapse was inevitable. But his family was generally long-lived and, contrary to royalist wishes, his government was becoming established. As the crucial first step toward the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, his death proved to be a turning point in British history.
In a wide-ranging investigation that draws upon the fields of history, toxicology, medical forensics, and literature, H.F. McMains offers a fresh reading of evidence that has sat quietly in libraries and archives for more than two centuries. He examines the development of Cromwell's illness in 1658, analyzes his symptoms, and evaluates persons with motive, method, and opportunity to do him harm. The result is a reassessment of Cromwell's relationship with the English people and their government and a convincing investigation of his mysterious death.