On the 30th January 1649 King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland was executed outside the Banqueting House in London. Shortly after Charles’ failed attempt to arrest the Five Members the English Civil Wars began, but by the end of 1648 the royalists had been defeated. Charles was found guilty of committing high treason and sentenced to death by beheading.

Charles’ trial began on the 1st January 1649, where he was accused of “a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England.” He was also held personally responsible for all the death and destruction caused by the Civil War, which had resulted in an estimated 6% of the entire population losing their lives.

Charles, as a believer in divine right, refused to recognise the authority of the court. However, on the 27th January the sentence was passed. Charles was executed on the 30th January, having requested to wear two shirts as protection from the cold so that the crowd wouldn’t think he was shaking from fear. Six days later, Parliament abolished the monarchy.

On the 30th January 1661, the year after the restoration of the monarchy and exactly twelve years after Charles’ execution, the body of Oliver Cromwell was exhumed from his grave in Westminster Abbey. Cromwell, who was one of the regicides who had signed Charles’ death warrant and went on to become Lord Protector during the Interregnum, was then posthumously executed and his head placed on a spike.

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