In the summer of 1642 civil war
broke out in England under the reign of Charles I.
On 30 January 1649 Charles I, who
was king of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625-1649 was
publicly beheaded at Whitehall London, being the first and only English monarch to be lawfully executed. Charles I had been tried for treason and his death warrant had been signed by three persons which included Oliver Cromwell.
The trial and execution of
Charles I was one of the most controversial events in history.
be tried by 135 Judges but only 68 turned up for the trial. No
wanted to be
the Chief Judge for the trial and eventually the position was allocated
Bradshaw who was a lawyer. John Bradshaw knew that putting the
treason was not popular and fearing for his own life he made a special
which had metal inside it to protect his head against any attack.
At the trial Charles I refused to
defend himself or to take off his own hat which was an insult to the
Court was packed with soldiers and when the judgment of the Court was
Charles I then tried to defend himself but was told his chance to do so
gone and he was bundled out of the court room and executed three days
On the day of the execution the
sentence was delayed till the afternoon as the man who was allocated to
the King refused to do so for fear of
future reprisals. Eventually an executioner and an
and paid 100 pounds on the condition that they wore masks to hide their
At his execution Charles I worn a
heavy tunic/waistcoat as he did not want to let the crowd see if he
prior to his execution. The tunic with its blood stains still
found in the Museum of London and is shown below:
The execution was attended by the
Royal surgeon who subsequently sewed the King’s head back on to his
to his secret burial in Windsor Castle without any religious service.
After the execution Charle’s
family, including his eldest son who also was
named Charles fled to Europe, where they sought and obtained
On 6 February 1649 the monarchy
was formally abolished by Act of Parliament and what became known as a
of State was set up with Oliver Cromwell as its first chairman.
Thus the Commonwealth of
England, Ireland and Scotland came about as a result of the Civil War
execution of Charles I.
King Charles 1 had been his own
worst enemy. He was self-righteous, arrogant and unscrupulous and
decisions since ascending the throne in 1625 on the death of his father
I. During his reign he alienated both his subjects and his
a series of events that ultimately lead to the Civil wars, his own
abolition of the English monarchy for more than a decade.
His marriage to a Roman-Catholic
French Princess Henrietta in 1625 did not please his Protestant
subjects and in
1637 he totally misgauged the sentiments of his Scottish subjects when
attempted to impose an Anglican form of worship on the predominantly
Presbyterian population in Scotland.
Charles I produced many wonderful
coins during his reign including the Gold triple unite from 1642-1646
coins stand in marked contrast to the coinage of the Commonwealth
Towards the end of the reign of
Charles 1 some coinage commenced to change in certain parts of England,
the disruption of the Civil War, when the now famous siege coins of
came into production from 1645 onwards.
The coinage struck during the
Commonwealth period was totally different from previous coins, in that
inscriptions written in English rather than Latin which was considered
too close a connection to the Pope. Further English was the
In addition there was now no
monarch to place on the coins and the St.George’s cross and Irish harp
place of the royal arms.
The new coins had common designs
for all denominations, from the gold twenty shillings down to the
with a simplified version for the tiny half penny. The first
1649 and up until 1657 the mint mark was the sun which was replaced by
anchor on coins from 1658 to 1660.
The coins bore the inscriptions
“The Commonwealth of England” on one side with the date and “God with
the other side.
The mint mark was altered from
the sun in 1658 following the death of Oliver Cromwell to an anchor
remained on the coins until 1660.
Oliver Cromwell played a major
part in the formation of the Commonwealth. Cromwell was born in
attended Cambridge University but had to leave the following year, due
death of his father. In 1628 Cromwell was elected a Member of
during the civil war he was appointed a lieutenant general in the New
Army which fought against the Royalists.
During the Commonwealth period
there was some advancement in the production of coins when the
Blondeau was summoned to London to produce certain machine made trial
coins in 1651,
which had either milled edges or inscribed edges with Blondeau’s name
Truth and Peace”. The purpose of this development was to try and
being clipped and to reduce counterfeiting.
“Truth and Peace” [olive branch] Petrvs
Blondaeus Inventor Fecit [palm branch]
The Cromwell Crown produced in
1658 mainly has a die flaw in the drapery on the obverse due to a crack
occurring in the obverse die. These coins have an inscribed edge.
Blondeau pattern miller silver shilling 1651 with milled edge
1658 Oliver Cromwell crown with obverse die crack
RESTORATION OF THE MONARCHY:
About one year later Charles II
returned to England and the monarchy was restored.
Meanwhile the coins of the
Commonwealth were allowed to circulate but on 7 September 1661 it was
proclaimed that such coinage would cease to be current from the end of
1661 after which they had to be taken to the Mint to be exchanged for
quantity of lawful money.
Many reprisals were carried out
by Charles II for his father’s execution and on 30 January 1661, Oliver
Cromwell’s body was dug up and was symbolically executed, before being
again at Tyburn, as was the body of John Bradshaw. Nine persons
living and associated with the execution were hung, drawn and
were given life imprisonment or simply excluded from office for life.
Coinage reverted to the
traditional coins of the monarchy with the king’s head on the obverse.
Charles II died in February 1685
and although he had at least twelve illegitimate children, his wife
children and accordingly the monarchy passed to his brother James II.
The coinage of Charles II from
1663 onwards were made by the presses of Blondeau with milled edges
superseded the ancient hand hammering process.
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