In 1649, on this day that the House of Stuart sought to close the book on the Puritan Revolution in Great Britain, King Charles I's republican nemesis Oliver Cromwell (pictured left) was executed in front of the Banqueting House at Whitehall. The poet Andrew Marvell would immortalise the scene ~ "That thence the Republican actor borne the tragic scaffold might adorn: While round the armed bands did clap their bloody hands".
Did Clap Their Bloody HandsYet Charles Stuart had fatally misjudged the mood of the nation. Because Cromwell's submissive dignity on the scaffold would for ever change the character of the conflict. In short, Cromwell had become the martyr, and Charles the bloody tyrant.
"That thence the Republican actor borne the tragic scaffold might adorn: While round the armed bands did clap their bloody hands". ~ Andrew MarvellMilitary defeat in the civil war would force a sharp change in direction for the republican movement. Henceforth the leadership would be passed to the intelligentsia, a Benjamin Franklin, rather than a George Washington would drive the republican movement
That man would be the author John Milton (pictured right) who fiercely criticized the monarchy in The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. Published in 1650, the treatise expressed his support of a republican form of government ~ "If men within themselves would be govern'd by reason, and not generally give up thir understanding to a double tyrannie, of Custom from without, and blind affections within, they would discerne better, what it is to favour and uphold the Tyrant of a Nation".
And so the death of Cromwell would also shape Milton's destiny. Invited to serve as the Lord Protector after the overthrow of Charles I, it would be for Milton to build the platform of today's modern republic, by being the first Head of State to govern the British people by reason.