Extract from a report of the trial of Charles I, January 1649
(Catalogue ref: SP 16/517)
This is an extract from an official Parliamentary report of the trial of Charles I.
The main exchanges here are between the king and Lord President Bradshaw. Bradshaw was the man prosecuting the king.
After the Second Civil War many radical (extreme) MPs and army officers wanted to put Charles I on trial for treason (betraying the country). In December 1648 the army and radical MPs effectively took over Parliament. They put the king on trial and executed him in January 1649.
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. However, in November 1648 army commanders decided that Charles must be put on trial. They took over Parliament in an event known as Pride’s Purge. Of those MPs left in Parliament after the purge (clean out), the majority were still not prepared to support the trial or find Charles guilty.
During the trial the king claimed that the court was not legal because there was no court that could put a king on trial. He refused to accept the authority of the court right up to the end.
Charles probably had more sympathy and support in the country at this time than at any other time in his reign. Despite this, he was doomed. Once the army commanders put him on trial, there was no way they would allow him to be found innocent.