King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649

By Esmé Wingfield-Stratford | Go to book overview

22
THE TRAP SHUTS

THE tragedies of history seldom run their course with the dramatic economy of conscious art. It is a temptation that must be resisted to speak of Charles as having consciously set before himself, until the last weeks when death stared him visibly in the face, the necessity of his own martyrdom. That the supreme sacrifice might be demanded of him he was well aware; but that it was not to be evaded in any circumstances without treason to his soul and his cause was as yet no more obvious to him than, according to the Quo vadis legend, it had been to the Apostle Peter. In so far as we may judge of the workings of so complex and reserved a mentality, it would seem that whenever the idea of flight was mooted, a certain subconscious back-pull came into play that deprived his efforts of just that all-outness which makes the difference between success and failure in a delicately poised enterprise.

Thus when Berkeley returned from his mission to Windsor and found the King full of thanks and commendation to him for that urgent warning he had sent, he could only ask him why, if His Majesty had so approved of his advice, he had taken no steps to act upon it. But the King insisted that it would be time enough to think of that after these critical negotiations with the Scots had gone through. His loyal gentlemen, who were far more concerned for his life than he was himself, knew how fine he was cutting it, but they could only possess their souls in patience, and see that all was in readiness for the attempt when he gave the word. The Queen, co-operating from her side of the Channel, had caused a vessel to be dispatched that lay ready in Southampton Water, and a small craft was waiting to ferry him over the Solent. The way was still open.

At last the Engagement with the Scots was concluded, and it had plainly become a case of now or never. For the King had had to return his answer to the Commissioners of Parliament who had presented him with that ultimatum of the Four Bills. He must have known that his refusal to sign would, in however courteous terms it was framed, precipitate an open breach with Parliament, and that they would be certain to proceed to measures that would put escape out of the question.

-244-

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King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • I - The Clinch 1
  • I - The Court at Oxford 3
  • 3 - Newark and Cheriton 7
  • 4 - A Desperate Situation 11
  • 5 - Adieu! 16
  • 6 - The King's Strategy 19
  • 7 - A Night March 21
  • 8 - Rupert's Flank March Through Lancashire 25
  • 9 - The Relief of York and Cropredy Bridge 30
  • 10 - Marston Moor--The Challenge 33
  • II - Marston Moor--The Decision 36
  • 12 - The Escape of the Queen 50
  • 14 - Second Newbury and the Cavalier Recovery 54
  • 15 - Artist as General 58
  • II - Defeat 71
  • I - Tertium Quid 73
  • 3 - "Three Things I Will Not Part With" 76
  • 4 - The Liquidation of the Primate 81
  • 5 - A Foredoomed Negotiation 88
  • 6 - An Irish Imbroglio 92
  • 9 - Prelude to Naseby 97
  • 10 - Naseby 102
  • 12 - The King's Cabinet Rifled 112
  • 13 - The King Takes His Stand 116
  • 15 - Meeting and Reconciliation 124
  • 16 - Last Days at Oxford 130
  • 17 - Hobson's Choice 141
  • III - Captivity 149
  • I - Confidence Trick 151
  • 2 - Third Degree at Newcastle 155
  • 4 - "Barbarously Baited" 159
  • 5 - Foreshadowing Martyrdom 162
  • 6 - A King for Cash 168
  • 7 - Holdenby Backwater 171
  • 8 - The Mutiny of the New Model 173
  • 9 - The Commission of Cornet Joyce 178
  • 10 - The King at Newmarket 189
  • 15 - The Fall of London 203
  • 16 - Cromwell on the Turn 208
  • 17 - A Darkening Prospect 219
  • 18 - Escape from Prison 224
  • 21 - The Engagement with the Scots 232
  • 22 - The Trap Shuts 244
  • 24 - Escape Barred 247
  • 26 - Jane Whorwood 256
  • IV - Martyrdom 285
  • I - The Train is Laid 287
  • 3 - Hurst Castle and Pride's Purge 295
  • 4 - Journey to Windsor 299
  • 6 - Conspiracy to Murder 301
  • 7 - High Court of Justice 308
  • 8 - By What Authority? 313
  • 13 - Cromwell Takes Charge 344
  • 14 - Preparation for Death 348
  • 16 - "Cruel Necessity" 354
  • Appendices 369
  • Index 381
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