Summary of Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I
On August 18, 1648, with no relief from the siege in sight, the royalist garrison holding Colchester Castle surrendered and Oliver Cromwell’s army firmly ended the rule of Charles I of England. To send a clear message to the fallen monarch, the rebels executed four of the senior officers captured at the castle. Yet still the king refused to accept he had lost the war. As France and other allies mobilized in support of Charles, a tribunal was hastily gathered and a death sentence was passed. On January 30, 1649, the King of England was executed. This is the account of the fifty-nine regicides, the men who signed Charles I’s death warrant.
Recounting a little-known corner of British history, Charles Spencer explores what happened when the Restoration arrived. From George Downing, the chief plotter, to Richard Ingoldsby, who claimed he was forced to sign his name by his cousin Oliver Cromwell, and from those who returned to the monarchist cause and betrayed their fellow regicides to those that fled the country in an attempt to escape their punishment, Spencer examines the long-lasting, far-reaching consequences not only for those who signed the warrant, but also for those who were present at the trial, and for England itself.
A powerful tale of revenge from the dark heart of England’s past, and a unique contribution to seventeenth-century history, Killers of the King tells the incredible story of the men who dared to assassinate a monarch.
Author: Charles Spencer
Review of: Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I
Charles Spencer at does an excellent job of covering Charles I’s trial and execution but the bulk of Killers of the King addresses the best and bloodiest stories of the men that were hunted down (in Britain, Europe and America) who signed his death warrant. There are plenty of letters and first hand testimony which relate to how these men faced their deaths and one cannot helped but be moved by the stoicism and courage of some of them. The behavior of others proves less admirable however.
The author provides a balanced view on the old cause of the Civil War and allows the actions and letters of his subjects to speak for themselves. I particularly enjoyed the portrait of Downing, who is in some ways is the villain of the piece. Downing was cynical, greedy and a survivor. He highlights how, to a certain extent, politicians haven’t really changed over the years.
Killers of the King is a book that can be read by Civil War enthusiasts and also general readers of history and historical biography. A minor criticism would be that the Killers of the King doesn’t get to grips with the character of Charles II in the same way that it does Charles I but otherwise the author should be congratulated for writing such an original and gripping book.