Posts Tagged ‘English Civil War’

1:16 pm

The Tyrannicide Brief

I’ve recently finished reading this account of John Cooke, the lawyer who prosecuted the case against Charles I, leading to the King’s execution.

All I really knew about the English Civil War was the description from 1066 and All That of it as an "utterly memorable Struggle between the Cavaliers (Wrong but Wromantic) and the Roundheads (Right and Repulsive)". I had a vague notion that Charles I had been executed for denying Parliament its perogatives, but nothing more specific than that, and I was always a little unclear on how Charles II had managed to restore the monarchy. And while I knew that anti-Catholic sentiment had been strong in England in this era, I never really appreciated just how deep the religious divide had gone between Protestants.

The author, Geoffrey Robertson, tries to make the case that the execution of Charles I was entirely justified, while the execution of John Cooke, his prosecuting attorney, was procedurely flawed and therefore unjustified. However, the flaws he admits to in the case against the King are, to my mind at any rate, at least as serious as the problems in Cooke’s case. I came away from the book holding the opinion that the two executions were equally unjustified.

Nonetheless Robertson does succeed in painting a portrait of an intelligent, courageous and God-fearing man who made admirable efforts to improve the practice of law in Great Britain, and I do recommend it.

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