Execution of King Charles I—January 30, 1649
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” —Psalm 2:2-4
King Charles Guilty of Treason
n January 30, 1649 King Charles I walked to the executioner’s block to face capital punishment for high treason. This unprecedented action against an English Monarch set in motion Oliver Cromwell’s ascendance to power as Lord Protector, occasioned freedom of worship in Great Britain for all Protestants, and set the stage for a period known as “The Restoration” of the monarchy upon the return to power of the Stuart dynasty.
The Death Warrant of Charles I, Signed by 59 Commissioners
Above the Law
King Charles had come to power in 1625, upon the death of his father King James I. Both monarchs held to a view of “the divine right of kings” to make the laws and raise taxes without consent of Parliament. They considered themselves, in fact, above the law and tried to rule by their own instincts as God’s vice-regents. They also sought autocratic control of the Church through politically appointed bishops and archbishops in a nation that was at once majority Puritan (and in Scotland, Presbyterian) and reliant on Parliament for protection of historic liberties. Charles did not possess the subtlety of his father, nor his common sense. Married to a Catholic princess and favorable to his high church appointees like William Laud, Charles offended many of the nobility and the more reformed of the churchmen.