To Catch a King

One of the things that makes Charles II fascinating to me is the idea of the uncrowned King in exile, as he was after the execution of his father in 1649. The exile itself seems to have consisted of long, frustrating tracts of time spent in the, often begrudging, charity of others punctuated by moments of high drama and intrigue. It is clear that both of these aspects of the period strongly influenced the future King Charles and quite frankly make for marvellous stories.

Various aborted plans were made for Charles to return to his realm and raise further rebellion during the exile, but the only one that came to any real degree of fruition occurred in 1650/1651. Charles sailed to Scotland and into the hands of the Scottish Covenanters, after a humiliating period in their ‘care’, Charles was crowned King of Scotland at the Cathedral of Scone on 1 January 1651. At the head of a Scottish army Charles marched into Nothern England and on 5th August was proclaimed King at Penrith, a small market town. The subsequent march south failed to gain any significant English recruits and culminated in Charles fighting and losing the battle of Worcester. After Worcester Charles made his escape, which is a story worth the telling, and one that I suspect I will return to in later posts. In the meantime here is a vivid demonstration of the drama inherent in the story, the nation’s Parliament tries to smoke out the would be King:

King on the run

King on the Run

Wing (2nd ed., 1994) / E2194 Thomason / 669.f.16[25] Steele, I, 2952. /


By the Parliament. A PROCLAMATION FOR THE Discovery and Apprehending of CHARLS STUART, and other Traytors his Adherents and Abettors.

WHereas CHARLS STUART Son to the late Tyrant, with divers of the English and Scotish Nation, have lately in a Trayterous and Hostile maner with an Army invaded this Nation, which by the Blessing of God upon the Forces of this Commonwealth have been defeated, and many of the chief Actors therein slain and taken prisoners; but the said Charls Stuart is escaped: For the speedy Apprehending of such a Malicious and Dangerous Traytor to the Peace of this Commonwealth, The Parliament doth straightly Charge and Command all Officers, as well Civil as Military, and all other the good People of this Nation, That they make diligent Search and Enquiry for the said Charls Stuart, and his Abettors and Adherents in this Invasion, and use their best Endeavors for the Discovery and Arresting the Bodies of them and every of them; and being apprehended, to bring or cause to be brought forthwith and without delay, in safe Custody before the Parliament or Councel of State, to be proceeded with and ordered as Iustice shall require; And if any person shall knowingly Conceal the said Charls Stuart, or any his Abettors or Adherents, or shall not Reveal the Places of their Abode or Being, if it be in their power so to do, The Parliament doth Declare, That they will hold them as partakers and Abettors of their Trayterous and Wicked Practices and Designs: And the Parliament doth further Publish and Declare, That whosoever shall apprehend the person of the said Charls Stuart, and shall bring or cause him to be brought to the Parliament or Councel of State, shall have given and bestowed on him or them as a Reward for such Service, the sum of One thousand pounds; And all Officers, Civil and Military, are required to be aiding and assisting unto such person and persons therein. Given at Westminster this Tenth day of September, One thousand six hundred fifty one.

Wednesday the Tenth of September. 1651.

ORdered by the Parliament, That this Proclamation be forthwith Printed and Published.
Hen: Scobell, Cleric. Parliamenti.


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