The King's Revenge

Read The King's Revenge for Free Online

Book: Read The King's Revenge for Free Online
Authors: Michael Walsh, Don Jordan
Tags: General, History
what Sir Bulstrode had feared:
     an army coup. Deciding to brazen it out, the two grandees explained they were on business at the Court of Chancery and were
     allowed to enter.
    Once inside, Widdrington and Whitelocke were advised by a clerk that despite the army coup developing around them, they should
     take their seats in the Commons. No sooner had they done so than a clerk came up and told them not to sit. The two great office
     bearers rose in confusion. Whitelocke was then invited to talk to the Lords. As he went down the corridor towards the Lords’
     chamber, he came across Colonel Pride, who was directing his men to arrest various members of the Commons and prevent others
     from entering. To his astonishment, Pride broke off from directing the coup to letWhitelocke through. On his way back from the Lords, he was even more amazed when Pride ‘saluted him civilly’. In a strangely
     understated judgment on so momentous an event, Whitelocke noted it was ‘sad to see such things’. 14
    By the end of the day, Whitelocke was one of about two hundred members left in what became known as the ‘Rump’ of the Parliament.
     Colonel Pride’s men arrested 45 MPs and excluded 186 who they thought would not support the trial of the king, or who had
     voted to support the Newport treaty. The next day, another fifty MPs were excluded and three arrested.
    Realising the king’s situation was worsening by the day, close followers once again plotted his escape. Horses were hired
     on which Charles could flee while taking his daily exercise on the beach beside Hurst Castle and a ship was chartered to wait
     at anchor off the coast. The Duke of Lennox urged Charles to seize the moment but the king answered that he had given his
     word and would not break it. 15 On 15 December, the army council decided to move Charles to Windsor. Shortly after, Thomas Harrison arrived to tell Ewer
     the news. Harrison did not meet the king, who remained ignorant of his visit.
    In London, discussions were under way about how to proceed against the king. Cromwell favoured a trial but he was unsure how
     it could be done. The established laws of the land seemed to be an obstacle to putting the king on trial. If the king was
     set above all other men by God, how could other men try the king? Wrestling with this headache, on 18 December he called his
     friend and confidant Colonel Richard Deane – that ‘bold and excellent officer’ 16 – to a meeting with Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke and Sir Thomas Widdrington. We don’t know what advice the lawyers gave, but
     we can deduce by subsequent events that it was not what Cromwell and Deane had hoped for.
    Despite this setback, the army began to move the king to Windsor. The journey would take several days on horseback. The detachment
     of troops together with their prisoner and his depleted entourage setoff for Winchester, where they spent the night before heading across the Downs to Alresford. People gathered along the roadside
     and shouted, ‘God preserve Your Majesty.’
    On the road out of the market town of Alton, the travellers came upon a troop of cavalry lined up along the side of the road.
     The appearance of the handsome and finely dressed commanding officer impressed the king. According to Sir Thomas Herbert,
     the officer was ‘gallantly mounted and armed; a velvet Montero was on his head’. He wore a new buff coat with ‘a crimson silk
     scarf about his waist, richly fringed’. 17 The king asked Herbert the identity of this paragon of fashion. The answer chilled him to the bone. Of all the Roundheads
     and Cromwellians Charles knew, or knew of, this was the one he least wished to meet. This was the man who wished to see him
     dead in order that Christ could rule on earth in his place; this was the person who had called him ‘that man of blood’. It
     was the dandy Puritan himself, Colonel Thomas Harrison.
    And so it was that two of the most fanatical, headstrong and stubborn characters

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