immediately after the breakdown of the Uxbridge negotiations, of sending the heir to the throne away from Oxford to the fortified port of Bristol, where the lad was to have his own court and council, with the ablest of all the ministers, Hyde, as chief adviser. As the King confided--presumably to Hyde himself, who records it--he came to this resolution "that the enemy might not upon any success find us together, which, he said, would be ruin to them both; whereas though he should fall into their hands while his son was at liberty, they would not dare to do him harm". It is plain from this that Charles had begun to envisage his own capture as an imminent possibility, and that he was under no illusions about his own person being sacrosanct in that event. For the men who had just imbrued their hands in the blood of the Primate were not likely to stop short of regicide if and when it suited their convenience. But with the heir to the throne out of their clutches, the effect of liquidating its occupant would not be to destroy the King, who by law never dies, but merely to dissolve the otherwise Perpetual Parliament according to the then immemorial practice of the Constitution.
Charles little realized the nature of the men with whom, in such a case, he would have to deal, if he expected them to have a greater regard for the law than for the person of the sovereign. Nevertheless he had taken the surest way of rendering even their success in the long run sterile.
THE NEW MODEL TAKES THE FIELD
THE Cavalier staff, now under Rupert's vigorous command, found itself faced with an almost hopeless problem in devising its plans for the new campaign. It had less than ever a fixed point round which to manœuvre; the loss not only of Reading but of Abingdon had made a fatal breach in the outer defences of Oxford, and an attempt to surprise Abingdon had resulted in a bloody repulse and the loss of one of the ablest officers in the King's service, Colonel Gage. For the King to stop in Oxford would be to risk being shut up in it; for him to leave it would mean that at any moment he might have to hurry back to its relief.