Killers of the King. The men who dared to execute Charles I.
January, 1649. After seven years of fighting in the bloodiest war in Britain’s history, Parliament had overpowered King Charles I and now faced a problem: what to do with a defeated king, a king who refused to surrender?
Parliamentarians resolved to do the unthinkable, to disregard the Divine Right of Kings and hold Charles I to account for the appalling suffering and slaughter endured by his people. A tribunal of 135 men was hastily gathered in London, and although Charles refused to acknowledge the power of his subjects to try him, the death sentence was unanimously passed. On an icy winter’s day on a scaffold outside Whitehall, in an event unique in English history, the King of England was executed.
Bestselling historian Charles Spencer explores this violent clash of ideals through the individuals whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision.
- 339 pages
Charles I’s gold-mounted pearl earring (around 1620), and his golf toothpick (around 1600) can be seen in our current exhibition Unseen Treasures.
This large pearl hung from King Charles I’s ear when he was executed in 1649. He left it to his daughter, the mother of King William III, who in turn gave it to the 1st Duke of Portland. A note in the handwriting of Queen Mary II reads: ’This pearle was taken out of ye king my grandfather’s eare after he was beheaded and given ye Princess Royall.’
The gold toothpick was given to Colonel Matthew Thomlinson, the Parliamentarian Guard, on the night of the King’s execution. ‘That very night before his death [the King] was pleased to give me a legacy, which was a gold toothpicker and case, that he kept in his pocket.’ It was bought by the 6th Duke of Portland in 1925