After dissolving Parliament in 1629 to rule entirely on his own, leading to civil war in 1642, Charles I was not a particularly liked monarch, especially by the sizeably Protestant portion of his subjects after he made the decision to marry a Catholic princess. The king’s Royalist forces were defeated and in 1648, he was summoned to a “fixed court” controlled by his political enemies was was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death.
It was a cold Tuesday when the execution was to take place, and Charles asked for two shirts to prevent himself from shivering, a gesture he did not want the crowds to mistake for a sign of fear. At 2 O’clock that afternoon, he said his prayers and an unnamed headsman swung his weapon down onto the block and Charles’ waiting neck. He died with one skilled stroke of the axe and some in the crowd stepped up to dip their handkerchiefs in the king’s blood. Charles was 48 years old.
After his head was put on display for the crowd, it was sewn back onto his body, which was then embalmed and buried in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The monarchy was abolished and Parliamentarian leader Oliver Cromwell assumed control over what would be briefly known as the Commonwealth of England, though this control also extended to Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. In 1660, Charles’ son Charles II took his place as king of the restored monarchy.