An account of Pride’s Purge, 6 December 1648
(By permission of Oxford University Press: Firth (ed.), The Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Army of the Commonwealth of England, 1625-1672, Vol. 1, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894, p. 210)
This is an extract from the memoirs of Edmund Ludlow. Ludlow was an officer in the New Model Army. He was a strict opponent of the king and a supporter of Oliver Cromwell.
Ludlow later turned against Cromwell when Cromwell became Lord Protector (ruler) of Britain in April 1653. Ludlow felt that Cromwell betrayed his principles in order to become ruler.
In September and October 1648, after the Second Civil War, Parliament tried to make a treaty with Charles. However, in November 1648 army commanders decided that Charles must be put on trial instead. As a result, they effectively took over Parliament. This event was known as Pride’s Purge. A purge means a clean out or removal.
Radical (extreme) MPs and army officers wanted to put Charles I on trial for treason (betraying his country) after the Second Civil War. However, most MPs were moderates (taking a middle viewpoint). They wanted to make a treaty with Charles and restore him to power. They were more afraid of the army and radical MPs than they were of Charles returning.
Colonel Pride ‘cleaned out’ Parliament by excluding from Parliament or arresting the MPs who were the harshest critics of the army. The MPs who were left were called the Rump Parliament. Many of them were not supporters of the army either, and were horrified at what the army had done. It was completely illegal.
Many of the MPs who stayed in the Rump remained because they felt they could be of more use arguing for their views in Parliament. They believed that if they left Parliament, that would leave the army completely in charge without any opposition at all.