A short story based on fact, showing the awful consequences of deceit
A fascinating time in English history, is when the sole power lay in the hands of the king until the rebellion, when the ‘Roundhead’ army formed by Oliver Cromwell defeated the Royalist army. The king was kept under house arrest at Carisbrooke Castle, and Cromwell retired, returning to his home in Norfolk, and leaving the country to be run by a newly formed parliament. But nothing had really changed, as that parliament was slowly and surely coerced by the king.
So Cromwell returned and re-formed the roundhead army, and eliminated parliament.
Imagine King Charles 1st, is playing with his three children on the lawn of Carisbrooke Castle, when Oliver Cromwell is announced as arriving.
King Charles 1st put his hand to his face to ensure that he could not see through the silken scarf that his children had tied across it. With arms outstretched he slowly walked around the lawn at Carisbrooke listening to their suppressed giggles as they avoided him in this game of Blind Man’s Buff. With a smile of sheer happiness on his face, with his head to one side, he listens for the rustle of their clothes in order to be able to seize them
He does not see his equerry Sir Edward, approaching him from the house within the castle, where the whole royal family have been detained. It was that worthy gentleman who was seized by the king, who on removing the cover from his eyes, said in surprise, “Why it’s you Sir Edward, you are supposed to run,” Sir Edward replied, “Cromwell is here to see you sire.”
The smile went from the king’s face, as he closed his eyes and appeared to sway slightly. He murmured, “Could this be the day we have feared for so long Sir Edward,” holding on to the arm that had been offered. “No your majesty, he has documents which he wants you to agree to, and then to sign, “Upon pain of death I suppose if I refuse,“ Sir Edward looked kindly upon the kings face, seeing the look of fear, as if the axe was about to fall.
The children gather round the king, asking him to resume the game, and he looked at them sadly, touching each ones hair in turn, “No children you must play by yourself. I’m afraid I have other games to play.”
He slowly walked to the house accompanied by Sir Edward, where on the forecourt several men are waiting. In the forefront is a tall man, strongly built, who is obviously Cromwell. The king nods to them all, but none react by bowing or even returning the nod. The king steps onto the first porch step, so that he can be at the same level as Cromwell, and would liked to have gone one further, so that he could look down on the man, but that would have been too obvious.
Cromwell passed Sir Edward a document, but spoke to the king, “These are our terms sir,” Sir Edward replied, “Have parliament approved this document?” Cromwell said, “Parliament no longer represents the people” at which the king interrupted ”Do you claim to represent the people sir?”
Cromwell replied ”I represent the army my lord, and we are the heart of the people. I have 50,000 men under my command, and we have no need of a parliament who are prepared to throw away all that we have fought for.” Tight-lipped, the king said, “So you would now negotiate with the king.“ Cromwell, equally tight-lipped replied, “It is the duty of parliament to negotiate on behalf of the people, but they have betrayed that right.”
Charles seemed to rise in stature, and appeared to be trying to control his anger, saying, “So under your scheme of things, you would do away with your king.”
Cromwell, after a pause, during which time he shook his head in disbelief, said, “Never my lord, England without a king is unthinkable, but we need a king who is there by the love of the people. A man of honour, who can guarantee their liberties, and over-see government without having direct control over it’s every-day affairs.”
The king looking surprised said, “You take me unawares sir, I had no idea that you felt as you do. I had been led to believe that you merely wanted my head. Yes Mr Cromwell, I will study your document, and let you know my decision as to whether I can accept your terms.”
Cromwell nodded his head, saying, “I will take leave of you then sir.” Smiling at the king and feeling that the visit had been a success, he turns and followed by his retinue walks towards the castle gates.
The king, his fear now gone completely, looked at Sir Edward, saying “There goes a very cunning fellow. I have no intention of reading his document. If I prevaricate long enough, my cousin the king of France will send an army to help me, I have sent him messages, and I know they are gathering.”
Sir Edward was shocked at the king’s deceit, and tried to convince him that Cromwell was genuine, in safeguarding the future of monarchy.
When Charles was executed later for inviting in a foreign power, one of the witnesses against him was Sir Edward, his equerry, who had become so disillusioned with the foolish deceit of the king.