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The Trial of King Charles I

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Leah Roper

on 18 July 2013

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Transcript of The Trial of King Charles I

The Trial of King Charles I
A multimedia extravaganza brought to you by Lauren Hill and Leah Roper
A Brief History of King Charles and the English Civil Wars
How King Charles I came into power
King James I, Charles' father, was the first to unite the kingdoms into a unified England and Scotland in 1603
Charles I became the heir after his brother died in 1612
King Charles took the throne in 1625 as the second king of the unified country
1603 -King James I unites England into a single monarchy
Overarching Themes
High church v. Low Church

Divine Right v. Social Contract
High Church
Low Church
Divine Right
Social Contract
1612 - Charles' brother, Henry, dies, making him the royal prince.
King Charles I
Meet King Charles I
Charles likes Art
Charles likes
music
Charles likes fashion
And Charles likes money...
But he didn't have any
1625 - Charles takes the throne of England. Sends troops to France almost immediately. (Expensive and fruitless)
Why The Trial of King Charles I?
The Army concluded after two civil wars that the country would remain divided so long as Charles remained alive.

What changed in the mentality of the English people that led to the people (through parliament) to try and execute a king for the first time (as opposed to raising a new king and overthrowing the old one)?
The Charges
Charles was accused of devising 'a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his Will,
and to overthrow the Rights and Liberties of the People'. In carrying out this strategy, he had 'traitorously and maliciously levied war against the
present Parliament and the people therein represented', and renewed the war after his defeat with the sole objective of 'upholding of a personal interest of Will and Power and pretended prerogative to himself and his family against the public interest, common right, liberty, justice and peace of the people of this nation'. On behalf of the people of England, the King was impeached 'as a Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public and implacable Enemy to the Commonwealth of England'.
http://www.royal.gov.uk/pdf/charlesi.pdf
1629 - Charles dissolves Parliament for 11 years.
1637-38 - The Scottish begin rioting against King Charles. (This is going to last awhile.)
Apr. 1640 - Having been backed into a corner for funds, Charles calls the "Short Parliament" ... which he dissolved within a month for lack of cooperation.
Nov. 1640 - Charles again calls Parliament, needing funds. Instead, Parliament uses this time to complain about him
1641 - The Irish start rebelling
Jan. 1642 - Charles tries (and fails) to arrest 5 leading members of Parliament
Aug. 1642 - Charles calls his army together and begins the (first) Civil War
1643-45 - War rages between the Roudheads and the Cavaliers
1646 - Charles surrenders to the Scots, who later trade him to Parliament for £400,000. Charles remains in custody.
Aug. 1648 - The Second Civil War breaks out, led by Cavaliers and the Scots as an [unsuccessful] attempt to restore Charles to the throne.
Dec. 1648 - The Army removes 180 dissenters from Parliament, arresting another 40, leaving the "Rump Parliament."
Jan. 1649 - King Charles is tried by Parliament, found guilty, and beheaded
To which Charles replied...
I would know by what power I am called hither ... I would know by what authority, I mean lawful; there are many unlawful authorities in the world; thieves and robbers by the high-ways ... Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgement of God upon this land.
Witnesses
33 witnesses were called and heard by a closed subcommittee regarding Charles' participation in the wars and approval of the atrocities.
Why was testimony taken this way?
The Rump Parliament
Members of Parliament supporting the King were removed by the army. Still others were arrested in order to be kept out.

The Rump Parliament passed the Act Erecting a High Court of Justice for the Trial of Charles I, giving themselves the authority to hold trial of the king
Q: Charles did not recognize the authority of the high court; did he have just cause?
Compared to the other trials...
Which trial(s) provided the most protection for the accused? The least?

Were the trial procedures more or less similar to modern procedure than those employed in Socrates's trial?


What do you think was the biggest injustice that Charles I faced during his trial?

Did Charles I stand a chance of being acquitted?

Do you think the Court that was created for Charles was sort of a war crimes tribunal, similar to the Nuremberg Tribunal created after World War II?
Future Impact
One of the readings makes an assertion regarding the American Revolution, stating that the Trial of Charles made it possible, is this assertion warranted?

What political ramifications do you see from the trial process and the manner in which the entire action was carried out?
When Edward VI instituted protestant reforms he was met with approval, but Charles’ attempt to impose a High Church liturgy and prayer book were met with rioting. Why do you think the two reforms were reacted to so differently?
Charles was found guilty, and the President of Parliament, John Bradshaw, said the following:

'there is a contract and a bargain made between the King and his people, and your oath is taken: and certainly, Sir, the bond is reciprocal; for as you are the liege lord, so they liege subjects ... This we know now, the one tie, the one bond, is the bond of protection that is due from the sovereign; the other is the bond of subjection that is due from the subject. Sir, if this bond be once broken, farewell sovereignty! ... These things may not be denied, Sir ... Whether you have been, as by your office you ought to be, a protector of England, or the destroyer of England, let all England judge, or all the world, that hath look'd upon it'
Full transcript