The Lord Protector: Religion and Politics in the Life of Oliver Cromwell

By Robert S. Paul | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
CARISBROOKE TO THE OUTBREAK OF THE SECOND CIVIL WAR

I

ON October 22, 1647, the Scottish Commissioners, Loudoun, Lauderdale and Lanark had delivered a written covenant to Charles that if he escaped the Scots would give him every aid in the recovery of his throne.1 Charles, however, had given his word not to attempt to escape, and until he had freed himself from that obligation he would do nothing. He evaded the difficulty by a characteristic manœuvre, which left his enemies, if anything, more convinced of his faithlessness than if he had simply broken parole.2 It is a curious commentary on Charles that had he been either more honest or less honest he would have probably escaped with both his life and his throne. On October 31 Whalley increased the guard over the King and on November 1 Berkeley, Ashburnham and most of the royalist courtiers were ordered away from Hampton Court.

The King can hardly be blamed for wishing to escape, and plans were hurriedly pushed forward during the first few days of November. Ashburnham counselled Charles to throw himself boldly on the goodwill of the Presbyterians within the city, for in the event of a popular royalist rising there, the Scottish army would march south in its support. The King, however, refused either to go to London or to escape to France and it was finally decided that the probable destination should be the Isle of Wight, where Colonel Robert Hammond--who was known to have royalist sympathies--was the newly appointed Parliamentary

____________________
1
G.C.W., IV, 1.
2
Ashburnham, had given his parole that the King would not attempt to escape, and had indicated to Whalley that Charles's word was pledged with his. On the King's orders Ashburnham now withdrew his parole on the grounds that the increasing Scottish influence at Court made him unable to guarantee the King's actions. Charles interpreted this as freeing himself from all obligations, and when asked to renew parole refused to do so.

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