Thursday 10 March 2016

A Son's Revenge

To accompany our dip into the Stuart era yesterday, Alison Stuart visits the salon to tell us of her own family connections worth a couple of regicides, as well as the execution of a king and the restoration of his heir.


A Son's Revenge

Thank you, chere Madame, for inviting me to be your guest today. Even though my passion is for a period slightly earlier than yours, I hope my subject will still be of interest to your readers… after all vengeance is a universal emotion!

In EXILE’S RETURN (the third and last in my Guardians of the Crown series), Daniel Lovell returns to England in 1659, after eight years as a prisoner and a hunted man. Cromwell is dead and there is the first glimmering of the hope of a restoration of the monarchy. Daniel has one thing on his mind vengeance for the murder of his father.

He visits the exiled Charles II in Bruges… 

“…At the age of eighteen Daniel Lovell had gone into battle beside this man; both carried with them dreams of honour and glory and the rightful avenging of the deaths –– no, murders –– of their fathers. 
…His idea of vengeance at the age of eighteen had been ill-conceived and vague. The naive boy who had donned his father’s armour and taken up his sword had died that day as surely as if a sword had pierced his heart. Eight years of exile had honed his bitterness like a blade and now it sat on his shoulders like a carrion bird, picking at the shreds of his memory. 
… like Daniel himself, the hopeful boy the King had been in 1651 had gone. Exile had aged Charles Stuart beyond his years.” (EXILE’S RETURN by Alison Stuart)

It is perhaps, a tribute to Charles, that his restoration was achieved without bloodshed and that he put much of the anger and bitterness behind him, allowing former foes to sink into retirement or even enjoy favour at court. However there was one group of men for whom there could be no forgiveness… the regicides, the men who had signed the death warrant of Charles I.

death warrant of Charles I
The death warrant of Charles I
I have a couple of family connections with regicides, Sir Michael Livesey  being one (albeit dubious) and William Purefoy being another (a small twiglet on the family tree!). Whether I am indirectly descended from Sir Michael or not, the fate of the regicides has always been of interest to me. 

News of the King's execution (January 31 1649) reached the exiled royal family in exile on February 4. On being told of his father's death, the young prince, Charles (now Charles II), burst into tears and fled from the room. He vowed vengeance on the men who had sent his father to his death. 

After his unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne by force (1650-1), Charles II returned to exile on the continent.
The following years (the Interregnum) were marked by failed plots to assassinate Cromwell (one of which was the subject of Book 2 in the Guardians of the Crown series,  THE KING'S MAN) or to raise the country and restore the monarchy by force of arms. In 1658 Cromwell died, to be succeeded by his son Richard. "Tumbledown Dick", as he was nicknamed, was not the man his father had been and secret negotiations began to restore the monarchy.

Some of the men now treating with the King were the same men who had set their hands to his father's death warrant, but Charles was always a pragmatist and restoration at whatever cost was the endgame.

Before Charles II set foot back in England the round up of the regicides began. The first five men were arrested in Ireland and imprisoned. The capture included the prosecuting lawyer, John Cook (see Geoffrey Robertson's excellent biography of Cook, THE TYRANNICIDE BRIEF). Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw (the judge at Charles' trial), all of whom must have topped the Most Wanted list were already dead. The first arrest on English soil was Cromwell's old comrade and the chief architect of the King's trial, Sir Thomas Harrison.

In order to secure his restoration, Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda in which he promised clemency to those of his father's enemies who swore their fealty within forty days.  There was, of course, an exception. There would be no clemency for those excepted by Parliament. On 9 May 1660 Parliament began to debate the "Bill of General Pardon, Indemnity and Oblivion". Despite assurances of the King's mercy, many of the regicides saw the writing on the wall and fled England. 

A “death list" of seven regicides was agreed to: Harrison, Jones, Barkstead, Lisle, Scot, Holland and Saye. Three days after announcing the seven another five were added - not judges but officials of the court (including Cook) and the king's executioners. However only Harrison, Cook and Jones were in custody, the others had slipped away. By the end of May, a full blown manhunt was on for those regicides still in England. 

By October, the death list comprised thirty-two men (23 judges and 9 officials). The trials began in October 1660. All thirty-two were to be excepted from pardon. A further nineteen living regicides, who had surrendered by the 40-day deadline, were granted exception. At the end of their trials, ten were sentenced to immediate death and were executed in the barbaric manner of the time - hanging drawing and quartering. 

The Commissioners
The Commissioners
As an example to Hugh Peters who waited his turn, John Cook's end was particularly grisly. He was hanged until just conscious, cut down and his genitals cut off and dangled before his eyes. A screw (like a corkscrew) was inserted and twisted to slowly extract his intestines and these were held to the torch while Cook still lived. Normally the victim's suffering would end with the cutting out of his heart but the executioner prolonged Cook's agony until the man expired. The body was then beheaded and cleaved into 4 pieces (lengthways and horizontally) so that the four quarters could be impaled on the city gatehouse.

If the diarist John Evelyn is to be believed, the King himself was present at the executions. Evelyn wrote "I saw not their execution, but met their quarters, mangled and cut and reeking as they were brought from the gallows in baskets on the hurdle."

Those who had predeceased the restoration were not spared. The bodies of Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw were disinterred and hung on the gibbets at Tyburn before being beheaded. 

And all of this before the king's coronation in May 1661. 

Having dealt with the remaining English regicides, Charles unleashed a man hunt for the nineteen regicides who had evaded capture on English soil. Agents were dispatched to America and Europe, organised by a former parliamentarian, Sir George Downing (after whom Downing Street is named). His clerk, Samuel Pepys recorded the extent of Downing's intelligence network. One of Downing's agents was the beautiful female playwright, Aphra Behn who was sent to "turn" her former lover, William Scot into a spy for the King. 

For those surviving regicides now living on the continent or in hiding in America, they lived their lives in constant fear of assassination or kidnap. Only Edmund Ludlow lived to see Charles II's death, dying of natural causes in Switzerland in 1691. Of my own reputed ancestors, Sir Michael Livesey died in the Netherlands in 1665, allegedly at the hands of Downing's agents and Purefoy had died in 1659 (thus avoiding the fate of his compatriots).

If you are interested in reading more on this subject I highly recommend The King’s Revenge by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh.


Alison Stuart
The breath-taking conclusion to Alison Stuart’s English Civil War trilogy introduces a heroine with nothing left to lose and a hero with everything to gain…

England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England. One by one, those once loyal to the crown begin to return ...
Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him. 
Agnes Fletcher's lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she finds herself alone and devastated by the loss. Unwilling to give up, Agnes desperately seeks anyone willing to accompany her on a perilous journey to save the children and return them to her care. She didn't plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell. She didn't plan on falling in love.
Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. When they are finally given the opportunity to seize everything they ever hoped for, will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?

If you would like to hear an excerpt from EXILE’S RETURN professionally read. Click HERE
EXILE’S RETURN is available on AMAZON, KOBO, Ibooks and all reputable ebook stores

Alison Stuart
Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion from history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. A past president of the Romance Writers of Australia, Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories.  Many of her stories have been shortlisted for international awards and BY THE SWORD won the 2008 EPIC Award for Best Historical Romance.  

Her inclination for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

Readers can connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

And don’t forget to enter my Guardians of the Crown contest (Closes 15 March):  click HERE 

Written content of this post copyright © Alison Stuart, 2016.


Alison Stuart said...

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today :-)

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tale!