Trial and Execution of Charles I

Gap-Fill Exercise


Charles I was the first of our monarchs to be put on trial for treason it lead to his execution. This event is one of the most famous in Stuart 's history - and one of the most controversial. No law could be found in all ’s history that dealt with the trial of a monarch so the order setting up the that was to try Charles was written by a Dutch lawyer called Issac Dorislaus and based his work on an ancient Roman law which stated that a military body (in case the government) could legally overthrow a tyrant. The execution of Charles, lead to an year gap in the rule of the Stuarts (1649 to 1660) and it witnessed the to supreme power of Oliver Cromwell - whose signature can be clearly seen on the warrant of Charles.

Charles was put on trial in London on January 1st 1649. was accused of being a

"tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and enemy to the Commonwealth of England."

He was to be tried by 135 who would decide if he was guilty or not. In fact only 68 turned up the trial. Those that did not were less than happy about being associated with the of the king. In fact, there were plenty of MP’s in Parliament who did not to see the king put on trial but in December 1648, these MP’s had been from going into Parliament by a Colonel Pride who was helped by some soldiers. The people allowed into Parliament were those who Cromwell thought supported the trial of the king. Parliament was known as the "Rump Parliament" and of the 46 men allowed in (who considered to be supporters of Cromwell), only 26 voted to try the king. Therefore even those MP's considered loyal to Cromwell, there was no clear support to try Charles.

Chief Judge was a man called Richard Bradshaw. He sat as head of the Court of Justice. He was not one of the original 135 judges but none of 68 that did turn up wanted to be Chief Judge and the job was given Bradshaw, who was a lawyer. He knew that putting Charles on trial was not popular he actually feared for his own life. He had made for himself a special hat had metal inside it to protect his head against an attack. It was Bradshaw who out the charge against Charles; that he

"out of a wicked design to and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England."

The hall the king was tried was packed with soldiers - to protect the judges or to sure that the king did not escape? The public was not allowed into the hall after the charge had been read out. Why would the government do this if their against Charles was good?

At the trial, Charles refused to defend himself. He did recognise the legality of the court. He also refused to take off his hat as sign of respect to the judges who did attend. This seemed to confirm in the of the judges that Charles, even when he was on trial for his life, remained and therefore a danger to others as he could not recognise his own faults.

announced the judgment of the court : that

"he, the said Charles Stuart, a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation, shall be to death by severing of his head from his body."
When the judgment of court was announced, Charles finally started to defend himself. He was told that his chance gone and the king of England was bundled out of the court by the guarding .

His date of execution was set for January 30th 1649.

The execution Charles I




Charles was executed on a Tuesday. It was a cold . Charles was allowed to go for a last walk in St James’s park with his dog. His last meal was bread and wine. However, there was a delay in his .

The man who was to execute Charles refused to do it. So did others. quickly, another man and his assistant was found. They were paid £100 and were allowed wear masks so that no-one would ever know who they were.

At nearly 2.00 ’clock in the afternoon, Charles was lead to the scaffold which was covered in black cloth. had asked to wear thick underclothes under his shirt as he was very concerned that he shivered in the cold, the crowd might think that he was scared. Charles gave last speech to the crowd but very few could hear him. He said:

"I delivered to my conscience; I pray God you do take those courses that are best the good of the kingdom and your own salvation."

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