Journal Article

The Trial of Charles I

Sean Kelsey

in The English Historical Review

Volume 118, issue 477, pages 583-616
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI:
The Trial of Charles I

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The trial of Charles I was no mere prelude to regicide. It was far more important than that. The principal objective of the famous proceedings in the great hall of Westminster was to persuade the king to abdicate his constitutional pre‐eminence in return for his life and his throne. The king's judges appear to have recognized the enormous strategic and political dangers inherent to regicide, and to have appreciated the potential advantages in reaching an accommodation with the lawful ruler of three kingdoms. Consequently, when the trial began, regicide was probably its least likely outcome. However, the king's judges were deeply divided over the constitutional settlement which must necessarily follow the trial's conclusion. Some saw the proceedings against the king as an opportunity to establish more firmly the sovereignty of the people of England, first proclaimed on 4 January 1649; while a majority saw the trial as the last chance to salvage at least some aspects of the old oligarchic order, including the office of king and the House of Lords. For his part, still believing he might yet get the better of his opponents, Charles himself sought to expose and exploit their outstanding differences. The consequences of his overwhelming success were fatal.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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