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Abstract

According to the traditional view, the breeding of high quality horses collapsed after the execution of Charles I and the dispersal of the royal stud at Tutbury. This article questions this assumption by looking at Oliver Cromwell's interest in horses and in particular his efforts as protector to import Neapolitan coursers, Barbs and Arabian horses to improve English bloodstock. The effects of this on the development of the thoroughbred is debateable, but Cromwell's activities had important political by-products, as foreign dignitaries were impressed, aristocratic breeders were drawn into government circles, and the protector himself grew closer to those civilians at court who shared his love of horses.