Charles II's brutal revenge

On 17 October in 1660 four men were hung drawn and quartered in front of a large crowd at Charing Cross, in London. 

The four were Thomas Scott, Gregory Clements, Colonel Adrian Scrope and Colonel John Jones, and they were prominent Parliamentarians suffering the revenge of Charles II (pictured), the returning King of England. 

Charles had been in exile since his father, Charles I, was beheaded in 1649, save for an aborted attempt to regain the throne when he led an army from Scotland and was defeated by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

At this stage Cromwell was Lord Protector of England, a position he held until his death in 1658, when his son Richard took over. 

Richard Cromwell was unable to manage Parliament and he resigned his role in 1659, with Charles Fleetwood and John Lambert taking the lead in Government. 

This was unpopular with many and George Monck, governor of Scotland under the Cromwells, took an army south to face Fleetwood and Lambert. Their resistance melted away and Monck marched into London unopposed. 

Many were calling for a return to the traditional governing structure of a monarch and parliament, and Charles II seized the opportunity to make promises that would make his return even more appealing. 

In 1660 Parliament ruled that Charles II had been the rightful monarch since his father's death 11 years before, effectively wiping out the experiment of republicanism in England.

Charles came home and many more Royalists, exiles from the English Civil Wars such as Prince Rupert, returned to great reward. 

To heal the pain of the past two decades the new King issued an Act that pardoned all past treason against the crown. This applied to all but the 59 commissioners who had signed his father's death warrant. 

Just over half of these regicides were still alive, but they were hunted down and most were put on trial.

Twelve were condemned to death, with the brutal, barbaric and humiliating punishments delivered to Scott, Clements, Scrope and Jones on 17 October 1660 typical of their end. 

Those who who had died before Charles II's return didn't escape punishment. The bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and Judge John Bradshaw were exhumed and hanged in chains. 

Charles II's revenge was complete. 

Want to know more? To delve into the complexities of the English Civil Wars you can join our small group tours from Oxford and Bath.

Charles II tried to promote religious tolerance during his reign, but on his deathbed power was handed to his brother James who went on to impose his Catholic beliefs, to the alarm of Protestants across England. Dutchman William III, who was married to Charles II's niece Mary, was invited by several prominent nobles take the thrown from James. We tell the story of the Williamite Jacobite conflicts through tours in Ireland, where William quelled James' attempts to return, and in the Scottish Highlands, where the clans led the Jacobite Risings against the British Government. 

Picture credit: Kvasir79/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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