The Trial of Charles I

A Documentary History

David Lagomarsino, ed.; Charles T. Wood, ed.

On January 6, 1649, the House of Commons passed an act for “the Trying and Judging of Charles Stuart, King of England.” By month’s end, the King’s judges had found him “guilty of High Treason and of the murders, rapines, burnings, spoils, desolations, damage, and mischief to this nation” committed during the recently concluded Civil War. The sentence, ordering his execution “by severing of his head from his body,” was carried out in full public view on January 30.

How and why a King–God’s annointed–could be executed for treason are questions that underscore the profound changes that politics and political thought were undergoing at this time. To provide a window into this pivotal period, accounts of the trial and execution taken from contemporary newspapers, pamphlets, and official records, are collected here and edited for modern readers. This compilation of eyewitness accounts has been arranged to sketch a dramatic day-by-day narrative of that fateful month, introducing the important issues in a way that brings readers close to the making of these great events. The speeches at the trial make especially vivid the clash between two contrasting theories of government–that of a divine monarchy in which a king is deemed essential to the true liberty of his people, and that of a commonwealth in which sovereignty rests with the people and is exercised by its representatives.

Paper: $17.95 | E-book: $15.99
ISBN-13: 9780874514995
Pages: 167 | Size: 5.75 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: November 1, 1989

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  • Provides students of English history as well as interested general readers with a vibrant and detailed day-by-day account of the trial of an anointed king, a trial that served effectively to mark the transition from one era of political thought to another


About the Author

David Lagomarsino

Trained at Harvard University in the U.S. and Cambridge University in England, Professor Lagomarsino’s field is early modern Europe with particular emphasis on Spain. Besides courses on early modern Europe and on Spain’s “Golden Age,” he teaches a research seminar on 16th-17th century Europe, a first-year seminar on the European conflict that culminated in the launching of the Spanish Armada, and he collaborates in History 3. His own research concentrates on …

Charles T. Wood

Charles Wood was born Oct. 29, 1933 in St. Paul, Minnesota. While a student at St. Paul Academy, he met Susan Danielson, a Minneapolis native who later became his wife. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1955, after which he worked as an investment banker for his father’s firm, Harold E. Wood and Company, in St. Paul. He then returned to Harvard, where he received master’s and Ph.D. degrees in history (in 1957 and 1962 respectively). He taught at Harvard from 1961-64, then joined …


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