1649 — King Charles I of England is executed

The decisive exclamation mark that ends the English Civil War. Never before had an English monarch been deposed, tried and convicted of high treason, and then executed. (To date, no other English monarch has suffered the same fate, either.) The decapitation of Charles the First made plain to the people of England and the courts of Europe that the winds of change were blowing in England.

Charles’ son, Charles II, would eventually be restored to the throne that was his by right of primogeniture, and in the interregnum that followed, England would be variously led by Parliament, by Lord-Protector Oliver Cromwell, and briefly, by Lord-Protector Richard Cromwell (Oliver’s less talented and determined son). The restored king was a damned sight more careful of Parliament, and the gradual decline of the power of the monarchy would only continue from this time onwards.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell — Monty Python

1651 – Cromwell’s forces triumph at Worcester

The final encounter of the English Civil War was a bruising and thorough defeat for King Charles the First and his allies. Although between them, the Royalist forces and their Scottish allies numbered about 16,000, Cromwell’s Parliamentarians had mustered nearly twice as many soldiers, and with such a massive numerical supreriority, the outcome was never truly in doubt.

Cromwell took his time in the disposition of his forces, cutting off the King’s escape while wearing down his army. In a battle that lasted only a single day, the Parliamentarians surrounded the Royalists, driving them back within the walls of the city of Worcester, and capturing it shortly after nightfall. Few if any of the Royalists escaped, most being captured at the battle’s end or later that night, but the truly stunning result were the casualty lists: Cromwell lost only 200 of his 31,000, while 3000 Royalists were slain and more than 10,000 captured. The English Civi War was over, and Charles I would not long outlive it, although he did escape for a time.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1628 – Oliver Cromwell becomes MP for Huntingdon

Considering his later prominence, Oliver Cromwell’s first stint in Parliament was surprising undistinguished. Perhaps his relative youth (he was in his late twenties at the time) caused him to be over-awed by his more senior colleagues, and certainly the dissolution of this Parliament by King Charles I (and the fact that he did not call another until 1640) aside, records exist of only one speech given by Cromwell, and that was poorly received by the chamber.

Cromwell would return to Parliament in 1640, this time for the electorate of Cambridge, in which he would serve for the entire 1640s. He would entirely fail to make the Irish hate him until some time later.

Referenced in:

Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1625 — Charles the First becomes King of Britain

Charles the First, destined to end his rein several inches shorter than he began it, was a firm believer in his divinely ordained autocratic rights as King of England, Scotland and Ireland.  (He also claimed to be King of France, although even a claim of King of Calais would have been inaccurate, the English having lost their last French possessions in 1558.)

Charles would spend his entire reign battling his own Parliament, with an increasing lack of success, to maintain what he saw as the right and proper prerogatives of the King.  Reign and battle both would culminate in 1649, when a revolution led by Oliver Cromwell first deposed, then executed King Charles I.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell — Monty Python

1625 – King Charles I of England is crowned

There were those who never expected Charles to live to adulthood, let alone become king. The second son of James VI of Scotland, he was judged too fragile and sickly to travel to London with his family when James became King of England. And his older brother Henry was heir ahead of him.

But Henry died of diptheria when he was 18, and Charles, two weeks short of his 12th birthday, became the heir to the throne. Charles was 25 when he himself became King of England and Scotland, and few would have predicted that his reign would have the results it did – neither Cromwell’s uprising nor Charles’ later (posthumous) canonisation seemed very likely in 1625.

Referenced in:

Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1649 – The Rump Parliament appoints a High Court to try the King

The Rump Parliament was what remained of the British Parliament after Colonel Pride had purged it a month earlier, leaving only those parliamentarians who supported the army.

On January 6, 1649, the Parliament appointed a total of 135 men to constitute a High Court for the trial of King Charles I for tyranny. A quorum was declated to be twenty of these appointees.

The trial of Charles I commenced shortly thereafter, and duly returned the guilty verdict it was intended to.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1645 – Cromwell’s forces triumph at Naseby

Cromwell and Fairfax had recruited their New Model Army in the early months of 1645, taking advantage of King Charles I’s hesitation in attacking them to consolidate and train.

At Naseby, on June 14, 1645, the decisive battle of the English Civil War was fought. The Parliamentarian forces, under Cromwell, outnumbered the Royalists by almost two to one, and also commanded a stronger position. As the battle drew on, many of the Royalist soldiers surrendered, while other withdrew in disarray. The King, soundly defeated, fled to Scotland.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python