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Why did Britain become a republic?

Case study 1: Death of Charles I - Source 4

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Extract from a report of the trial of Charles I, January 1649

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/517)

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SP16/517; extract from trial of Charles 1, 1649

What is this source?

This is an extract from an official Parliamentary report of the trial of Charles I.


What's the background to this source?

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.


It's worth knowing that...

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.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What was the king accused of?
  2. What was the king’s response?
  3. How did Bradshaw react to the king’s statement?
  4. From this exchange between the king and Bradshaw, do you think there was much chance of the king being found innocent? Explain your answer.
  5. There are many documents on this website that refer to the king. In what ways is the attitude towards the king in this document different from other documents?
  6. Do you think people at the time would have been shocked to hear or read these words?