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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: July 2009

10 - ‘A No-King, or a New’. Royalists and the succession, 1648–1649


In the autumn and winter of 1648–9 Charles I came as close as he would ever come to negotiating a peace with the rebellious Westminster Parliament. As usual, his willingness to talk peace was just one element in a strategy of war. Militarily, the king's best-laid plans once again lay in ruins, strewn across the northern counties of England with the remnants of the Scots army of the Engagement. But with a fleet of warships still at his son's disposal, and an alliance with the Irish confederates still a possibility, the king's hopes were little diminished. Politically, his prospects remained good, and in order to take advantage of the differences within the parliamentarian coalition he agreed to sit down with his adversaries. Believing that he could negotiate without in fact committing himself to anything, the king apparently abandoned power, authority and even his principles. His objective was to dupe his opponents, either into allowing him to return to his capital to conclude the deal, or else to permit him sufficient personal freedom to engineer an escape. But unaware of his calculations, or else unconvinced of their wisdom, some of the king's closest supporters found the seemingly imminent prospect of a peace without honour or security hard to reconcile with the best interests of either the crown, the church, the House of Stuart, or indeed themselves.

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