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The Verdict

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

With Parliament purged, there wasn't much surprise at the final verdict

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After a further three days of internal consultation, and the private interview of witnesses, Charles was recalled to Westminster Hall on 27th January 1649 to hear the verdict. Dressed in scarlet, he listened to his sentence in silence as a loyal public gallery erupted around him. 'For all which treasons and crimes, this court doth adjudge that he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good people of this nation, shall be put to death by the severing of his head from his body.'

He then tried to speak to the Court. And was again refused. But this time, he cried out demanding his say. Desperately shouting, he was dragged away. It seemed as if the penny had finally dropped: he was to die. After all the games, the debates, the endless negotiations it had come to this. Suddenly the dreadful reality of a glorious martyrdom was very much upon him.

A kangaroo court of a military junta had taken upon itself the right of life and death over the nation's monarch. This was not a triumph of republican ideology, it was a triumph of political necessity. The verdict had been sealed months beforehand. For war to end, Charles had to go. Petitions across the country flooded in pleading for leniency and a new settlement. But both sides were now committed to their cause. Cromwell, having finally accepted the strategy of trial and execution, supported it to the hilt, shouting down discordant voices and holding Richard Ingoldsby's hand to sign the death warrant.

The inevitable execution was delayed while Parliament passed an Act to prevent Charles' son being immediately declared king on his father's death.


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