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Legal history: England & common law tradition: Commonwealth/Protectorate 1649-1660

1649 - 1660 Government records

Contemporary resources & commentary

Law Reports & Court Records

Nominate Reports - coverage - reprinted in ER
Style (Sty) 1646-1655 KB  82 ER

Hardres   (Hardr) 1655-1669 Ex.  145 ER

Nelson    (Nels) 1625-1693 Ch.  21 ER

Dickens   (Dick) 1559-1798 Ch.   21 ER

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Working with the surviving court archives

Trial & execution of a King

For the first time, a ruling monarch was the defendant in formal legal proceedings in a High Court of Justice, set up by the act of a Parliament which felt able to profess to be the supreme power in the land. (For text of this act see Rushworth, Historical Collections v 8, 1379)

The charges were that  he "had a wicked design totally to subvert the ancient and fundamental laws and liberties of this nation", and that he had "levied and maintained a civil war in the land."

Charles I denied the competence of the court, and refused to plead.

After four days, this stance was deemed to be a confession. He was sentenced to death, by beheading.