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“The most joyful funeral I ever saw”: Cromwell & Thatcher

Daily-Mirror-front-page--April-10th-2013--Thatcher-funeral-1821902The life, death and now funeral of Margaret Thatcher is a proper subject of debate – both contemporary and historical. Historians have already begun to pick anew over the former PM’s legacy, but the early modern blog Parthenissa offers a fascinating counterpoint: the funeral, in 1658, of Oliver Cromwell.

[…] a state funeral was required, and it was lavish.  London came to a standstill. The procession included knights marshall, ‘poor men’ of Westminster, porters, drummers, trumpeters, the household kitchen, the committees of the army and navy, the counting-house staff and park keepers, watermen, fire-makers, pastry-makers, larder and pantry staff, butter and cellar servants, yeomen, water-bailiffs,  musicians, civil servants (including Milton), officers of the army and navy, surgeons, lawyers, ambassadors, and the great lords of England.

[…] And the cost of Cromwell’s funeral? £1 in 1658 is worth £118 using the retail price index. The money allotted to cover Cromwell’s funeral was £60,000, which equates to £7.1m in current terms. It’s a huge sum and, neatly, it appears to be the going rate nowadays for public obsequies.

The whole post is well worth reading – and the significance of funerals of this sort, and the figures they commemorate, well worth considering.

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