January 30

1661

Oliver Cromwell is executed post-mortem

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was a leading figure in the revolution that overthrew King Charles I and abolished the British monarchy. Cromwell was a successful general in the Parliamentary armies that defeated royalist forces in the Civil War, distinguishing himself as a cavalry commander at the battles of Marston Moor (1644) and Naseby (1645). He favoured putting Charles on trial and signed the warrant for the king’s execution, thus becoming one of 59 “regicides” marked for vengeance should the monarchists regain the upper hand. After the establishment of the republic known as the Commonwealth, Cromwell led an army against Irish Catholics and Royalists in a campaign of massacre and atrocity that is still resented on the Emerald Isle. From 1653-58 he governed England as Lord Protector before dying of septicaemia.

The Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 meant a reckoning for those who had advocated executing Charles I. Those regicides still living either fled for safety  to the Continent or the American colonies, or were put on trial — most were imprisoned but 9 were given the traitor’s death of being hanged, drawn and quartered. The bodies of three dead regicides — Cromwell, his son-in-law Henry Ireton, and John Bradshaw — were disinterred from Westminster Abbey, mutilated and hanged in chains, after which the dismembered corpses were thrown in a pit. Cromwell’s head was preserved and is buried in a Cambridge college chapel. 

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