The Soldier’s Catechism (a.k.a., “Cromwell’s Brain-Washing Manual”)

During the English Civil War in the 1600’s, Cromwell made a book for his army called “The Soldier’s Catechism”. It was all about how to be a good soldier, a good Christian and whose side you’re supposed to be on, (FYI, it’s Cromwell’s…). Cromwell made it for his new army to inspire them to take up the cause and be good Christians. Cromwell ended up winning the English Civil War, but he was not popular due to his austere rule. After he died, another king took his place who wasn’t so strict. The book is short, only 28 pages and in question-answer format. It’s split into two parts, one called “Major parts of the section on the justification of the Parliamentarian soldier” and “Major parts of the section on the qualification of the Parliamentarian soldier”. They cover as follows:

Major parts of the section on the justification of the Parliamentarian soldier:

  • the biblical basis for Christians fighting in war
  • which side in the war the soldier is on
  • a reconciliation of the soldiers’ actions with Romans 13
  • the reason for taking up arms
  • the main goal of the war
  • the hopes for prevailing in the war
  • the necessity of fighting, despite the lamentable situation of Christians fighting Christians
  • the authors of the war
  • hopes for future national reformation

Major parts of the section on the qualification of the Parliamentarian soldier:

  • the principal requirements of a soldier
  • why soldiers should hold to the Christian religion
  • why the army can expect God’s blessing, despite the fact that many in the army are ungodly
  • a justification for controlled iconoclasm
  • the importance of valor and course
  • the need for skill and cunning
  • how soldiers can become skillful
  • the proper behavior of commanders and officers to their soldiers, and vice versa
  • dealing with mutiny
  • dealing with cowardice
  • how soldiers should be encouraged and rewarded
  • why the soldiers should be honored   (Theonomy

The book was obviously slanted in Cromwell’s favor and urged the soldiers to fight for his cause. Many of the questions were good ones, such as “Do not many of them that you count your enemies, stand for religion as well as you?” and “But is it not lamentable that Christians of the same nation, should thus imbue their hands in one another’s blood?” The answers however, were a bit zealous, the answer for question number two was “We are not now to look at our enemies as countrymen or fellow Protestants, but enemies of God and our religion and siders with the Antichrist, and so our eye is not to pity them, or our sword to spare them.” That’s a wonderful mindset, just demonize and dehumanize them…  There are many more examples like this in the book. It seems to be a pattern with most religious sects, they claim to be the “true faith” and others are wrong. It’s very black and white, certainly, “Antichrist” is a bit of a strong description! Never the less, it is still a neat primary source on what Cromwell’s side felt. However, reading through it made me think it should be re-titled as “Cromwell’s Brain-Washing Manual”!

See for yourself! The Soldier’s Catechism

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About History Is Interesting

I like ancient and medieval history!
This entry was posted in Early Modern History, Military, Opinion Piece, Religion, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Soldier’s Catechism (a.k.a., “Cromwell’s Brain-Washing Manual”)

  1. carol says:

    Very interesting!


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