Killers of the King by Charles Spencer

I decided to read Killers of the King by Charles Spencer when it was mentioned by the author S.G. MacLean as one of the books that she had found interesting when she was doing her research for one of her Seeker books. Luckily I was able to borrow it from the library. I was slightly disappointed when I got my hands on it as I had imagined it to be a sumptuous glossy hardback, but it is a normal format paperback, with just eight pages of photographs/illustrations. No doubt there is a similar hardback edition. However, it’s a really interesting book and is well-written.

There were fifty-nine men who were mad or crazy enough to put their name to King Charles I ‘s death warrant and with the eventual restoration of the monarchy it was open season on them all. Almost half of them had died in the intervening twelve years, but almost immediately the hunt was on for the survivors, with one of them being murdered just three weeks later.

They had had some warning because with the unexpected death of Cromwell who had named his son Richard as his successor, it must have been obvious to everyone who knew Richard that he would never be up to the job. Soon there was talk of bringing Charles II home from his exile, and he was obviously going to punish the regicides. Most of them left the country, but some of them were persuaded to go back home, with promises of mercy, which turned out to be lies.

Charles Spencer decided to write this book because he thought that Charles I was an execrable ruler in his final years. However, I don’t think he came close to being as bad as Cromwell was, and he obviously intended to take over as king himself from the beginning.

“It is striking how many fascinating and notable figures colluded to end his life. They deserve in my view to be remembered with respect for their sacrifices: this book is my tribute to them.”

I think they never wanted a Stuart dynasty in the first place – too Scottish or should I say not English enough,  and  too close to Catholics for their liking. There were just too many greedy men who resented their family not being top dogs, but with Cromwell the whole country suffered. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

You can see a Wiki image of his death warrant here.

4 thoughts on “Killers of the King by Charles Spencer

  1. Was he the grandfather or great-grandfather of the first Duke of Marlborough? Trying to make the dates work.

    Imagine if Mary and Philip had had a son! But Philip would probably have taken him back to safety in Spain once Mary died and the Armada would have been to capture his throne . . . but still unsuccessful (really, he had some nerve).

    • Constance,
      I have no idea! The Churchills come into that somehow, and of course Princess Diana and her brother Charles Spencer were/are also linked to the Spencer Churchills.

      There would have to have been a lot of ‘what ifs’ involved as Mary was never healthy enough to survive a pregnancy never mind give birth to a healthy baby. I think Philip was just doing as he was told, he certainly didn’t spend much time with Mary. I suppose that the pope was involved too.

  2. Have you read Robert Harris’s Act of Oblivion? It’s about two of the regicides who fled to America. I’ll be honest, I found it quite dull and overlong, but it’s got high ratings on Goodreads so plenty of other people have enjoyed it.

    • FictionFan,
      No, I haven’t read anything by Robert Harris, he seems to be a love or hate author and I have no idea which side I would be on, and as I have so many books I do want to read I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to giving him a go. I don’t trust Goodreads ratings!

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