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

By Robert S. Paul | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
THE EXECUTION OF THE KING (December 1648-January 1649)

I

WE now enter upon a chapter of English history which has probably been covered more thoroughly than any other, and we shall deliberately direct our attention away from the tragic figure of the King in order that we may better be able to understand the part played by Cromwell.

Robert Hammond was suspect, and on November 28 he was arrested at Farnham. Ireton and the Levellers agreed at Windsor that a conference on future policy should be called between the chief parties within Parliament and the Army, and Cromwell was summoned from the north.1 The Army entered London on December 1. Three days later the news arrived that the King had been transferred to Hurst Castle, and in the meantime a committee of Levellers and Independents drafted a revised Agreement of the People. Parliament was impotent but unco-operative, and accordingly the officers carried out the "purge" which had been threatened so often previously. Colonel Pride, with the help of Lord Grey of Groby, ejected about forty Presbyterian Members of Parliament, leaving the immediate political horizon clear for the Army's friends at Westminster.2 Cromwell probably arrived in London on the evening of Pride's purge.3

The truncated Parliament promptly obeyed most of the Army's demands. It expelled the eleven members,4 it cancelled

____________________
1
Fairfax to Cromwell, November 28. C.P., II, 62 f.
2
Whitelocke, 359 f.
3
December 6, 1648. "Lieutenant-GeneralCromwell the night after the interruption of the House arrived from Scotland [sic.], and lay at Whitehall, where, and at other places, he declared that he had not been "acquainted with this design; yet since it was done, he was glad of it, and would endeavour to maintain it." Ludlow, Memoirs, I, 211 f. For the Army's Declaration to the Commons, November 30, cf. Whitelocke, 358.
4
Sir John Clot[s]worthy, John Glyn, Col. Edward Harley, Denzil Holles, Sir William Lewis, Col. Walter Long, Major-General Edward Massey, Sir John Maynard, Major-General Poyntz, Sir Philip Stapleton, Sir William Waller.

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