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Execution of Charles I: English Regicide

Execution of Charles I: English Regicide

Introduction

This day in 1649, Charles I met his bloody fate, being executed on Tuesday, January 30 1649. This was a result of the English Civil War, and the decision made by the High Court of Justice which was a court established by the Rump Parliament to try Charles I, this court was specifically created for the Trial of Charles I but the name was used for subsequent courts.

Portrait of Charles I. Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/King_Charles_I_after_original_by_van_Dyck.jpg
Portrait of Charles I – Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/King_Charles_I_after_original_by_van_Dyck.jpg

The regicide was a major result from the conflicts of the English Civil War, Charles I had angered much of the population by establishing a Prayer Book which against much of the religious traits which was associated with much of the Kingdom. This caused major upset in Scotland which initiated the Bishop Wars and England was faced with a divide since the monarchy, through lack of finance decided to use parliament for his own personal gain. However, many resisted which begun the war between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians.

Portrait of Oliver Cromwell. Source: 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
Portrait of Oliver Cromwell – Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Oliver_Cromwell_by_Samuel_Cooper.jpg

Crimes

The Second Civil War however could have been avoided, Charles I was defeated and held in captivity but provoked the Second phase of the Civil War. Charles was held responsible for unjustifiable bloodshed, negotiations between Charles and Oliver Cromwell were made possible but discussions broke down. In making war against Parliament, Charles was held responsible for the deaths of thousands, predicted deaths were around the 180,000 mark for the first and second English Civil Wars, the population of England at around this time was only about 5 million, therefore around 3.6% of the population met their end due to conflicts. These penalties and accusations helped Parliament justify the creation of the Court to try Charles I.

Trial of Charles I

When given the opportunity to speak in court, Charles refused to enter a plea because he still believed the monarch was above the court and did not consider it just to trial an individual of his position, therefore believing the authority of the monarch can not be challenged under any circumstances.He believed that his own authority to rule had been Divine right of kings given to him by God and by the traditions and laws of England when he was crowned and anointed, and that the power wielded by those trying him was simply that of force of arms. The King was declared guilty at a public session on Saturday 27 January 1649 and sentenced to death. To show their agreement with the sentence, all of the 67 Commissioners who were present rose to their feet. During the rest of that day and on the following day, signatures were collected for his death warrant.

January 30, 1649 – Charles I Execution

Execution of Charles I. Source: http://www.emersonkent.com/images/charles_execution_speech.jpg
Execution of Charles I – Source: http://www.emersonkent.com/images/charles_execution_speech.jpg

Charles I was beheaded in front the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall. Interestingly, he declared that he had desired the liberty and freedom of the people as much as any.

‘but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consists in having government…. It is not their having a share in the government; that is nothing appertaining unto them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things’

Sourced: http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/kingcharles.htm

Aftermath

Following the death of Charles I, the war continued for another two years which led to the Interregnum period, where the United Kingdom was temporarily a republic, Oliver Cromwell was made Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. This prompted changes in the Commonwealth, laws which restricted the consumption of alcohol and late nights, the banning of festival of Christmas since it clashed with the Protestant ethic.

A separate article may be made on the period of Cromwell’s rule, including the reinstatement of the monarch, Charles II in 1660, the article would contain further details of the laws and the reactions of the population and population opinion. This article may also endure some changes since this is a rough post, thank you.

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