met them at Preston. In two days Cromwell defeated a much larger Scottish army, and with it any chance of Royalist victory.
The uprisings had been sporadic, ill co-ordinated and largely ineffective; they did however illustrate both the extent of popular hostility to Parliament's attempts to reform religion and manners, and the resentment of the country political élites to the stranglehold central government was attempting to impose on local government. The Commons rescinded the vote of No Addresses, and negotiations with Charles were reopened. It was in light of the despatch of the Parliamentary commissioners to meet Charles on the Isle of Wight in September 1648 that the politicisation of the Army becomes apparent. The Army however had become strongly opposed to any such treaty with Charles. An opinion growing quickly within the Army was that Charles was fully accountable for the renewed bloodshed. It is vital to understand this, because it would be from the politicised Army that the drive towards the Regicide would receive its greatest thrust. In April 1648 at a prayer meeting of the officers and Agitators at Windsor, the Army resolved:
"that it was our duty, if ever the Lord brought us back again in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for the blood he has shed and mischief he has done to his utmost against the Lord's cause and people in these poor nations."
Henry Ireton's principal concern was for preserving social order and stability, and by the late 1640s he had come to believe that Charles I was a threat to achieving this as his proven duplicity threatened to undermine any agreement that may be struck with him. Essentially, Charles' promises could no longer be trusted, as the Parliamentarians would have no guarantee other than his word. The Remonstrance of the Army further emphasised Charles responsibility for the conflict:
"the capital and grand author of our troubles, the person of the King, by whose commissions, commands or procurement... all our wars and troubles have been, with all the miseries attending them, may be speedily brought to justice for the treason, blood and mischief he is therein guilty of."
It was argued that Charles, in account of his actions, had forfeited not only his right to be trusted, but also his position as God's anointed. The intensely pious Parliamentarians and sections of the Army reflected on the events of 1648 and argued that God had spoken, provided His verdict, with Royalist defeat in the First Civil War. Charles sought to contravene God's will, and should be brought to justice to account for his crimes.
Cromwell's correspondence from the autumn of 1648 reveals deep contemplation. What Cromwell was seeking to do was interpret Providence to ascertain whether divine favour had directed the outcome of events and from this decide his next move. A cynic may suppose that Cromwell was biding his time.
During the two months between the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the republican Commonwealth, the Rump Parliament debated what it would do next, what political form English government would take - monarchy or republicanism. The principal reason for the abolition of the monarchy was the lack of a viable candidate whom it could be assured would not unleash Royalist reprisals and would safeguard the Protestant faith, rather than a broad based commitment to republican ideals throughout the Rump.
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