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Why did Britain become a republic?

Case study 1: Death of Charles I - Source 3

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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)

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Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow; 1625-1672

What is this source?

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.


What's the background to this source?

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.


It's worth knowing that...

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.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What did the army do in December 1648, according to this source?
  2. Was this a coup, that is, a military takeover? To help you decide, study some newspapers or news websites to find examples of military coups today.
  3. The author of this source was one of the men involved in the Purge. Do you get the impression that the author felt that they did the right thing?