The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who sent Charles I to the Scaffold

By Geoffrey Robertson

Charles I waged civil wars that rate one in ten Englishmen their lives. yet in 1649 parliament was once tough placed to discover a legal professional with the ability and bold to prosecute a King who was once above the legislations: in any case the fellow they briefed used to be the novel barrister, John Cooke.

Cooke used to be a plebeian, son of a bad farmer, yet he had the braveness to carry the King's trial to its dramatic end: the English republic. Cromwell appointed him as a reforming leader Justice in eire, yet in 1660 he was once dragged again to the outdated Bailey, attempted and brutally executed.

John Cooke was once the bravest of barristers, who risked his personal existence to make tyranny against the law. He originated definitely the right to silence, the 'cab rank' rule of advocacy and the obligation to behave free-of-charge for the bad. He performed the 1st trial of a Head of country for waging battle on his personal humans - a forerunner of the prosecutions of Pinochet, Miloševic and Saddam Hussein, and an enduring concept to the fashionable international.

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May it expand to the defence of one’s prerogatives, or certainly one’s nation? The 3rd consultation: Tuesday 23 January today all started ominously for the King: the home of Commons handed a legislations that writs should still not exit less than his identify and royal seal, yet by way of reference basically to the pass judgement on who had issued them. And the wording of felony indictments, which seeing that time immemorial had regularly accused offenders of appearing opposite to ‘the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, His Crown and Dignity’ will be replaced to accuse them, extra rationally, of performing ‘against the Peace, Justice and Council of England’. the good seal had already been altered to take away the King’s logos, and any hint of Scotland: it now featured a map of britain and eire, with the go of St George and the Irish harp. The flip-side had an engraving via Thomas Simon of the home of Commons in consultation, and the proud legend (suggested by way of Henry Marten, and further to the coinage) ‘In the 1st yr of freedom, by way of God’s blessing restored’. This was once the 1st signal that Charles couldn't basically be got rid of, yet that he will not be changed. None the fewer, he will be given one final likelihood to co-operate. The Lord President used to be urged to make one ultimate try to have the King understand the courtroom, and this try out was once to be prompted through the prosecutor’s request to continue to judgment if he didn't provide a plea. If the King remained contumacious, then the clerk used to be to place the cost to him for the final time. but when the King agreed to make solution, he will be given a replica of the indictment and allowed an adjournment till Wednesday at 1 p. m. another way, that will be the time whilst the court docket may continue to judgment and sentence. it truly is little ask yourself that the King seemed depression and distracted while he used to be introduced into Westminster corridor. Cooke was once prepared this time, to convey the King to the crunch: he leapt to his toes to make the speech which was once later to hold him:27 My Lord, to place an finish to this nice hold up of justice, I shall now humbly circulate your Lordship for quick judgement opposed to him. i'd press your Lordships, simply because in line with the recognized ideas of the legislation of the land, if a prisoner shall stand mute or contumacious and shall no longer installed an efficient plea – accountable or no longer in charge – to the cost opposed to him wherein he may well come to a good trial, that operates as an implicit confession – it can be taken seasoned confesso. the home of Commons has declared that the cost is right – and its fact, my Lord, is as transparent as crystal and as transparent because the sunlight that shines at midday day. but when your Lordship and the courtroom isn't happy approximately that, then at the humans of England’s behalf, i've got a number of witnesses to provide. And for this reason I do humbly pray – and but it's not lots I who pray, however the blameless blood that has been shed, the cry whereof is particularly nice for justice and judgement – that quickly judgement be mentioned opposed to the prisoner on the bar, based on justice. As speeches cross by means of prosecuting assistance in treason trials, this used to be remarkably missing in venom: evaluate Coke opposed to Ralegh or St John opposed to Strafford.

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