September 3, 1651 — Cromwell’s forces triumph at Worcester

The final encounter of the English Civil War was a bruising and thorough defeat for King Charles the First and his allies. Although between them, the Royalist forces and their Scottish allies numbered about 16,000, Cromwell’s Parliamentarians had mustered nearly twice as many soldiers, and with such a massive numerical superiority, the outcome was never truly in doubt.

Cromwell took his time in the disposition of his forces, cutting off the King’s escape while wearing down his army. In a battle that lasted only a single day, the Parliamentarians surrounded the Royalists, driving them back within the walls of the city of Worcester, and capturing it shortly after nightfall. Few if any of the Royalists escaped, most being captured at the battle’s end or later that night, but the truly stunning result were the casualty lists: Cromwell lost only 200 of his 31,000, while 3000 Royalists were slain and more than 10,000 captured. The English Civil War was over, and Charles I would not long outlive it, although he did escape for a time.

January 30, 1649 — King Charles I of England is executed

It is the decisive exclamation mark that ends the English Civil War. Never before had an English monarch been deposed, tried and convicted of high treason, and then executed. (To date, no other English monarch has suffered the same fate, either.) The decapitation of Charles the First made plain to the people of England and the courts of Europe that the winds of change were blowing in England.

Charles’ son, Charles II, would eventually be restored to the throne that was his by right of primogeniture, and in the interregnum that followed, England would be variously led by Parliament, by Lord-Protector Oliver Cromwell, and briefly, by Lord-Protector Richard Cromwell (Oliver’s less talented and determined son). The restored king was a damned sight more careful of Parliament, and the gradual decline of the power of the monarchy would only continue from this time onwards.

January 6, 1649 – The Rump Parliament appoints a High Court to try the King

The Rump Parliament was what remained of the British Parliament after Colonel Pride had purged it a month earlier, leaving only those parliamentarians who supported the army.

On January 6, 1649, the Parliament appointed a total of 135 men to constitute a High Court for the trial of King Charles I for tyranny. A quorum was declated to be twenty of these appointees.

The trial of Charles I commenced shortly thereafter, and duly returned the guilty verdict it was intended to.

June 14, 1645 — Cromwell’s forces triumph at Naseby

Cromwell and Fairfax had recruited their New Model Army in the early months of 1645, taking advantage of King Charles I’s hesitation in attacking them to consolidate and train.

At Naseby, on June 14, 1645, the decisive battle of the English Civil War was fought. The Parliamentarian forces, under Cromwell, outnumbered the Royalists by almost two to one, and also commanded a stronger position. As the battle drew on, many of the Royalist soldiers surrendered, while other withdrew in disarray. The King, soundly defeated, fled to Scotland.

1628 – Oliver Cromwell becomes MP for Huntingdon

Considering his later prominence, Oliver Cromwell’s first stint in Parliament was surprising undistinguished. Perhaps his relative youth (he was in his late twenties at the time) caused him to be over-awed by his more senior colleagues, and certainly the dissolution of this Parliament by King Charles I (and the fact that he did not call another until 1640) aside, records exist of only one speech given by Cromwell, and that was poorly received by the chamber.

Cromwell would return to Parliament in 1640, this time for the electorate of Cambridge, in which he would serve for the entire 1640s. He would entirely fail to make the Irish hate him until some time later.

March 27, 1625 — Charles the First becomes King of Britain

Charles the First, destined to end his rein several inches shorter than he began it, was a firm believer in his divinely ordained autocratic rights as King of England, Scotland and Ireland.  (He also claimed to be King of France, although even a claim of King of Calais would have been inaccurate, the English having lost their last French possessions in 1558.)

Charles would spend his entire reign battling his own Parliament, with an increasing lack of success, to maintain what he saw as the right and proper prerogatives of the King.  Reign and battle both would culminate in 1649, when a revolution led by Oliver Cromwell first deposed, then executed King Charles I.