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Why did Britain become a republic?

Case study 1: Death of Charles I - Source 5

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Reaction from the King of France to the execution of Charles I, 1649

(Catalogue ref: SP 116/292)

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SP116/292; reaction from the French King, 1649

What is this source?

This is part of a declaration apparently by King Louis XIII of France, reacting to the death of Charles I. This seems to be a printer’s error because Louis XIII died in 1643, a number of years before Charles’ execution. However the new King of France, Louis XIV, was only 10 years old in 1649 and government continued under the regency of his mother Queen Anne. This might help explain the confusion in this printed pamphlet of the young king’s statement.


What's the background to this source?

In December 1648 the army and radical (extreme) MPs effectively took over Parliament. They put Charles I on trial and executed him in January 1649.


It's worth knowing that...

Charles probably had more sympathy and support in the country at this time than at any other time in his reign. Putting a king to death was a deeply shocking thing to do. The execution was held in public outside Charles’s own hall at Westminster. When he died, the crowd groaned.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. How does this source describe Charles’s behaviour?
  2. What words does this source use to describe Charles’s enemies and their behaviour?
  3. What did the court accuse the king of?
  4. According to Louis, who were kings answerable to?
  5. Charles I was Louis XIV’s great-uncle so Louis had reason to be appalled by what happened. Do you think ordinary people at the time would have been shocked at the death of the king?