Oliver Cromwell was born in 1599 to a middle class family. At the age of seventeen, he entered Cambridge, but it is assumed that he only spent one year in attendance there. At the age of twenty-nine, he entered Parliament, and maintained an active and outspoken roll in both the Short and Long Parliaments. According to Ashley, "Cromwell had now become the leading figure in the land. A small country gentleman by origin, descendent of the younger branch of a family that derived its fortunes from the dissolution of the monasteries in the time of King Henry VIII, he had been converted to Puritanism at about the age of thirty. Though he had become a Member of Parliament when he was under thirty and had been active in local affairs, it was not until he was over forty that he had turned energetically to politics and discovered his genius as a soldier. " He was a prominent voice of opposition to Charles I. During the first English Civil War; his military ability enhanced his pace in his rise in Parliament. According to Sharpe, "above all, Cromwell was able to manage the army; it was there, as the events of 1647-60 demonstrate, that the key to political survival lay. ".
In 1649, Cromwell went into Ireland, upon conquering the Irish he transferred their lands to Protestant proprietors. In 1650, he invaded Scotland and in 1651 defeated the Scots and Charles II, at which point he returned to England and left Scotland in the hands of Monck. Cromwell's approved the Navigation Act of 1651, which led to the first Dutch Wars and the war against Spain. In 1653, Cromwell dissolved the Rump Parliament following its ineffectualness in pro-military reforms. His political power was enhanced by the removal of Presbyterian leaders from Parliament. Under the Instrument of Government, Cromwell became lord protector. Cromwell resorted to open military government, England was divided into eleven districts, and a major general administered each.