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Charles I was the first of our monarchs to be put on trial for treason and it led to his execution. This event is one of the most famous in Stuart England's history - and one of the most controversial.
The execution of Charles, led to an eleven year gap in the rule of the Stuarts (1649 to 1660) and it witnessed the rise to supreme power of Oliver Cromwell - whose signature can be clearly seen on the death warrant of CharlesCharles was put on trial in London on January 1st 1649. He was accused of being a "tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England."
Charles was executed on a Tuesday. It was a cold day. Charles was allowed to go for a last walk in St James’s park with his pet dog. His last meal was bread and wine. However, there was a delay in his execution.
At nearly 2.00 o’clock in the afternoon, Charles was led to the scaffold which was covered in black cloth. He had asked to wear thick underclothes under his shirt as he was very concerned that if he shivered in the cold, the crowd might think that he was scared. Charles gave a last speech to the crowd but very few could hear him.
Even in death, Charles found no dignity. Spectators were allowed to go up to the scaffold and, after paying, dip handkerchiefs in his blood as it was felt that the blood of a king when wiped onto a wound, illness etc. would cure that illness.
When Charles II returned to become king of England in 1660, those men who had signed his father’s death warrant (and were still alive) were tried as regicides (the murderer of a king) and executed. Anyone associated with the execution of Charles was put on trial. The only people to escape were the executioners as no-one knew who they were as they wore masks during the execution.
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