On 6th December 1648 Parliament was surrounded by the troops of Colonel Pride. Conservative MPs were excluded and others who had heard of Colonel Pride's activities chose to stay away. At first it proved difficult for those MPs who did enter Parliament to establish a quorum of forty, but over the next weeks more returned, particularly with the influence of Cromwell, who returned to London on 7th December and declared his support for Pride's Purge. Was this a military coup d'etat by an Army bent on draining the King's blood, or a defensive step in the name and values of the 'good old cause' provoked by the fear the majority of the Parliament would betray the cause and blindly strike peace with the King? Something of the arbitrariness of the Regicide can be fathomed from assessment of the effects of Pride's Purge:
a) 71 Revolutionaries who supported the trial and execution;
Meanwhile Cromwell waited for one of those providential signs.
The Rump Parliament agreed to establish a High Court on 1st January 1649 and the King's trial opened on 20th January, with John Bradshaw appointed Lord President of the Court. The King was brought into the Court and the charge against him read. It was claimed Charles had attempted 'to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people' and that in doing this the King had waged war on Parliament, commissioned Irish rebels, and therefore was responsible for all the death, damage and destruction of the Civil Wars. Charles responded with dignity. The King denied the court had the right to try him and refused to plead: 'I do stand more for the liberty of my people than any here that come to be my pretended judges. And therefore let me know by what lawful authority I am seated here, and I will answer it. Otherwise I will not answer it.' When the verdict was returned and sentence given, Charles attempted to speak but was denied the right.
On January 30th 1649 Charles I was beheaded outside the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall. Against the will of the people, against the will of the majority of Parliamentarians, the King died a martyr. There is little doubt that Charles served the cause of monarchy better in death than he ever did in life. His courage and dignity before his executioners, the strength of his argument had established Charles, and the myth and martyrdom of Charles fed on the publication of Eikon Basilike, the supposed memoirs of the dead King, during the 1650s. Cromwell and the Rump, however much they might turn to God and Providence (the belief that divine will could be ascertained from the outcome of events) for justification had behaved illegally and unconstitutionally, and further, against the will of the people. With the power of the Army they usurped control and forced a cause of action that only a tiny minority of the population, of the political nation and the country at large, wanted. Why did even this minority of Englishmen decide that it was necessary to bring an anointed monarch to public trial and execution? With the outbreak of the Second Civil War, Parliamentarian attitudes hardened against Charles into a united front once again. In military terms the Second Civil War was of little significance. The 'rebel' armies fell into three groups with little in common other than disdain for the Parliamentary government and its policies, were regional, and without coherence. In January 1648, in reaction to Charles' Engagement with the Scottish Covenanters, Parliament had passed a vote of No Further Addresses. This measure outraged a large number of the country élite who organised petitions demanding that Parliament seek peace with the King and the disbandment of the Army. By spring, disturbances occurred in London and Norwich, and rebellion ensued in Kent, Essex, South Wales, and sections of the navy. Parliamentarians who led these outbreaks sought only to influence central government policy rather than negotiate or restore Charles themselves. In Cornwall, Yorkshire and Wales there were Royalist risings. In July Charles' new-found allies, the Scottish army, entered England and proceeded the march south until in Lancashire, Colonel Lambert's forces harried and delayed their progress. In August, after crushing the Royalist rebellion in South Wales, Cromwell
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