Pride's Purge, 'the Rump' and regicide

After Charles I's surrender the Army and the Presbyterians spent many fruitless months trying to negotiate a settlement with him. At the same time he was encouraging uprisings in England and Wales and an invasion from Scotland.

The Army repressed this series of royalist insurgencies in 1648 in the second Civil War, but afterwards its leaders demanded an end to negotiations with Charles, whom they considered a "man of blood" responsible for waging war on his own people.

Pride's Purge

On 6 December 1648 Colonel Thomas Pride and his soldiers stood outside the entrance to St Stephen's Chapel and, as the Commons convened that morning, arrested 45 Members and excluded a further 186 whom the Army thought were unlikely to support its goal of punishing the King.

After this military coup a further 86 Members left in protest. Pride's Purge left a 'Rump' (as it came to be called) of barely 200 Members. Among these, a determined clique unilaterally forced through an 'Act' on 6 January 1649, establishing a court to try Charles I for high treason - ignoring the negative vote a few days before of the small number of peers still sitting in the Lords.

Regicide!

During the trial in Westminster Hall Charles I disputed the authority of the court and refused to enter a plea. Regardless of the widespread opposition to the trial, a verdict of guilty was pushed through. The death warrant was signed by only 57 of the 159 commissioners of the high court originally established by the Rump, and on 30 January 1649 King Charles I was beheaded outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall.

England becomes a Republic

In March the Rump passed Acts abolishing the monarchy and the House of Lords and in May it passed another Act declaring "the people of England" a "Commonwealth and Free State by the Supreme Authority of this Nation, the Representatives of the People in Parliament ... and that without any King or House of Lords". The parliamentary trinity of King, Lords and Commons had been broken and now the Rump declared full sovereignty over the country.

Also within Living Heritage

External link

Find out how to visit the Banqueting House on the Historic Royal Palaces website

Did you know?

Charles I allegedly wore two shirts on the morning of his beheading. He was concerned that in the cold January weather he would start to shiver, which would be interpreted by his enemies as fear.

Biographies

You can access biographies of

Charles I
Thomas Pride

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.