18th November 1648. Revolution!
Salus Populi Suprema Lex: ‘The safety of the people is the supreme law’. The maxim of the New Model Army in the English Civil-War ‘Army Remonstrance’, or list of grievances against King Charles I.
Today in 1648 saw the adoption by the General Council of the Army of the Remonstrance, issued under General Fairfax and the Council of Officers, but relying heavily on the driving force of General Henry Ireton.
The intention was now to abandon any treaty negotiations with the King and to bring him to trial as an enemy of the people.
Ireton, though a radical, had been initially in favour of a constitutional monarchy and was involved in negotiations with the King to bring this about with the ‘Heads of Proposals’ in 1647. However he had now become unpopular with his conciliatory attempts, and after marrying Cromwell’s daughter, Bridget, Ireton had become even more convinced of the need to be rid of the King.
Charles didn’t help his cause by escaping from custody at Hampton Court, to the Isle of Wight in 1647, and though eventually incarcerated at Carisbrooke Castle, he made further attempts to escape.
Ireton now saw no point in further negotiation and felt compelled to push his father-in-law Cromwell towards regicide, and was in fact more than any other to be responsible for bringing about the King’s execution.
Parliament by rejecting the Draft of the Army Remonstrance on the 10th November 1648, were still desperately seeking to reach some agreement with the King, at the Treaty of Newport, Isle of Wight, between September and November 1648, after the the defeat of his supporters the Presbyterians and Royalists in the second civil war.
The Army now took matters into its hands. The Treaty of Newport was annulled, the result was ‘Pride’s Purge’ on December 1648, of the Long Parliament, whose power had declined as the Army increased.(1)
Parliament was now purged of those members who weren’t ’Grandees or Independents’, whom the Army supported, as against Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians.
‘Pride’s Purge can be regarded as the only coup d’etat in Britain, leaving in its wake the ‘Rump’ of the Long Parliament, which had sat from 1640.
After the execution of the King in January 1649, Ireton and Cromwell were involved in the conquest of Ireland, where Ireton was to remain as Lord Deputy, until his death on campaign in 1651.
(1) Named after Colonel Thomas Pride of the Parliamentary Army.
Ref: Henry Ireton and the English Revolution, David Farr,Oct 2006, Boydell Press.