The ‘Bankrupt Brewer of Huntingdon’, and Solomon’s Temple: an untold story of the English Civil War, by Tony Gosling
BRISTOL [final revision] 10Aug22 – Certain facts about the origins of the 1642-49 English Civil war have been established by historians and University departments over the centuries. Central are the grievances over Charles’s arbitrary rule and ‘three monopolies’ of church, printing and trade, that so stifled enterprise and free thought.
But what if there were a ‘third factor’, carefully concealed by wealthy merchants who were on the cusp of exploiting the New World? ‘Dark forces’ with a hidden agenda sniffed at by establishment historians then and now, because to raise it might threaten their reputations, their careers? Just such a possibility has in fact been creeping out, ‘given legs’ since WWII, in the works of Christopher Hill, Henry Brailsford, Pauline Gregg, John Robinson, Stephen Knight and Martin Short.
These writers represent two new perspectives on the seventeenth century battle between the feudal and merchant classes in England that was to have enormous repercussions across the world, not least of which was laying the foundations for the acquisition of the biggest empire the world has ever seen.
Brailsford and Hill, writing and researching in the 1950s and 1970s represent the post-war socialist culture finding its feet and reinterpreting social history, much research from original writings being made public for the first time. Their books tease out the social struggles and aspirations of the vast majority of England’s illiterate poor who had no voice yet were seeing their rights to land and livelihood and freedom of worship being corralled as they were made destitute by eviction and rabid anti-Catholicism.
In the 1970s and 80s insiders were saying Freemasonry was becoming less Christian, more sinister. Darker leaders were allegedly creeping in, and whistleblowers began to speak out. These disclosures fell on fertile soil because publishing and broadcasting was in the middle of taboo-breaking couple of decades. Stephen Knight and Martin Short were writing in the 1980s about Freemasonry, complex deceptions and links into all aspects of power, at the highest offices of state and the criminal justice system were exposed.
Before tackling Freemasonry head on, Knight’s 1976 book ‘Jack the Ripper the Final Solution’ suggested prostitutes deaths had been ordered by the royal family after they received blackmail threats. The eldest son of king Edward VII, heir to the throne Prince Albert Victor, had been experimenting with prostitutes as a teenager, given one a child and married her under a pseudonym.
Due to the Masonic nature of the cover-up, Knight became a focus for 1970/80s Masons, disgruntled over more recent injustices within the craft. In 1984 the product of that research ‘The Brotherhood’ was published but Stephen Knight died shortly afterwards in 1985 aged 34. Journalist Martin Short was handed several boxes of unread correspondence Knight had received from readers and published his own, bigger, sequel ‘Inside The Brotherhood, Further Secrets of the Freemasons’ in 1989.
Freemasonry being a re-branding of the banned medieval Knights Templar cult is probably best detailed in John Robinson’s book ‘Born In Blood’ (1989). During the same period of relative press freedom Christian converts from secret black and white witch covens reported identical wording in the oaths of Masonic initiation rituals: promises of secrecy on pain of death, even methods of execution of ‘offenders’.
In his acclaimed 1819 novel, Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott zooms in on this centuries-long struggle between dark forces that hijack the state justice system and military, through religion, to control England for their own private gain, and those that want to live comfortably, of course, but want to see genuine Christian love-thy-neighbour values and social justice prevail.
Between the extinguishing of the Templars in 1312, the eerily similar Garter Knights origin in 1348, and the sixteenth century Reformation, came the too-little studied nor understood Wars of the Roses. A battle for succession between the houses of York and Lancaster it can also be seen as the ultimately fruitless attempt to crush the Lancastrian power of these ever more confident Garter Knights. It was only with the coming of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth that this argument was finally settled in the Garter Knights favour. Sporadic bands of Lancastrian-sponsored brigands that had been roaming a lawless country for nearly a century were apprehended, and the English countryside returned to a reasonably peaceful existence.
Forty years later The Vatican’s inability, or unwillingness, to try accusations of witchcraft had been one of the many reformation grievances. Henry VIII wrenched English Christendom away from Rome in December 1533, over his marriage to Anne Boleyn and the English church began a popularisation and freeing-up of Christian doctrine as the Bible was opened in English. Would the Church of England, as promised, deal more directly with accusations and evidence of witchcraft?
Over the century or so between the reformation and English civil war a spiritual battle had been unleashed, which heated up with the 1611 publication of the King James Bible, to deal with actual divination and actual sorcery, clearly outlawed, which the Vatican had been sweeping under the carpet. The extension of the crown’s judicial powers into what had been church law also provided ‘cover’ for Thomas Cromwell’s hostile takeover of the monasteries. Several abbots to which the crown owed vast sums of money, including Glastonbury’s Richard Whiting, were crudely executed.
So the reformation cancelled much of the debt the crown and gentry had built up during the Wars of the Roses, and Hundred Years War in France. Like a dream come true there was also much confiscated monastic land and property which could be sold off to raise funds and much of the national debt had simply disappeared with the institutions it was owed to. This is the heady Elizabethan court into which John Dee whispered dreams of empire. He unveiled secrets of vast heathen continents loaded with resources as well as a plans to force England’s rural poor to work in factories. So to ‘rule the waves’ and make the new colonial adventurers very rich.
Under Henry and Elizabeth, John Dee’s secret plan was safe, but after the Catholic-leaning Stuart line took to the throne in 1603, awkward questions began to be asked about foreign policy and the increasing numbers of rural destitute falling victim to enclosure. For all but the gentry Henry had made possession of Coverdale’s newly published English Bible a crime, but James was having none of that. He determined that to thwart fallacious churchmen and for the nation to thrive the common man must have direct access to the scriptures.
Adam Smith said ‘People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends up in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.’ Opposition to the inconvenient concerns of the Church of England and the monarchy was growing. It accelerated rapidly in the 1630s as Charles tried to assert his authority by fining the evictors of the rural poor. Once Charles had dismissed parliament the empire faction of the City of London and merchant classes met secretly at the Providence Island Company and after war broke out the conspiracy was focussed at what became Cromwell’s Army Council and Council of State.
The Empire conspiracy was also becoming free to operate through secret societies where necessary, in a kind of spiritual battle behind the scenes for legislative influence which will benefit them, running up to the power to hire and fire the monarch. Although the restoration was a temporary blow, the Stuarts were probably sounded out and still not considered by the empire builders safe to be ‘in the loop’ so plans were put in place for the 1688 William III coup who, like Henry and Elizabeth before, would put personal gain and national prestige before the welfare of the people. The Jacobites then, who rightly never accepted William and his successors as legitimate, can be compared to the original Christian Socialist Labour party, or today’s anti-capitalist, social justice, protest movements. The Jacobites, however, ran out of steam in 1745 after a great march to attack London by the Highlanders and their allies which, probably wisely, was abandoned in Derby and returned home.
It should not come as a great surprise that formal secret groups, possibly alongside Freemasonry might be lurking behind machinations before, during and after the English Civil War since the idea was prominent in some seventeenth and eighteenth century accounts and illustrations. But this aspect is almost nowhere today, partly because the post-1980s press, and media more generally, has been ever more closed, consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, but also mainstream historians tell us Freemasonry only emerged in England in 1717.
‘Emerged’ is the word, because ‘philanthropist’ Elias Ashmole proudly records his own 1646 initiation into freemasonry at Warrington in his memoirs. So we know ‘the craft’ was active underground from at least the civil war period in England. Was the 1717 deception an attempt to conceal some role Freemasonry’s hidden networks of power had in the overthrow of Charles I, and the later usurping of James Stuart’s throne in 1688 by ‘puritan’ William of Orange?
- 1118 – The Vatican founds the Knights Templar after the First Crusade
- 1154 – The Great Schism as rival pontiffs from the Roman and Orthodox churches split
- 1204 – Brutal sacking of Orthodox Constantinople led by Knights Templar of the Vatican’s Fourth Crusade
- Friday 13th October 1307 – French King Philip the Fair orders arrest of the Templars for denying Christ, homosexuality, worshipping idols plus other blasphemies and heresies.
- 1312 – Templar Order is extinguished by the Vatican and banning decrees issued by European kings. Property is transferred to the Knights Hospitaller, today known as the Knights of Malta. Templars now have to go underground, under false names staying in secret network of ‘safe houses’ known as ‘lodges’.
- 1348 – Order of the Garter is created by Edward III at Woodstock, Oxfordshire with 26 knights. Legend is the motto ‘Shame on anyone who thinks this is evil’, originated when the Countess of Salisbury, dancing with the king, dropped her garter and he gallantly picked it up. However in her 1921 anthropological study of witchcraft Margaret Murray says the garter is a hidden emblem of a witchcraft high priestess, indicating control of a coven of 13, and that the king may have been demonstrating his support for her.1381 – Peasant’s Revolt believed to have been orchestrated by the underground Templars to threaten the boy-King Richard II and regain or destroy property lost seventy years previously when they were extinguished.
- 1411 – Foundation of London’s Guildhall, bringing medieval guilds together, leading to increased insularity and profiteering through shared monopolistic practices. Guilds had been getting more formalised and secretive over the previous 200 years or so with oaths of initiation to protect the secrets of their craft. Livery Companies began to dominate the political and economic life of the City of London through monopolistic practices and controlling apprenticeships. In the 21st Century there remain 84 City companies, the ‘Great Twelve’ Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Merchant-Taylors, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners, Clothworkers and 72 minor companies.1446 – Rosslyn Chapel is built in Midlothian, Southeast of ex-Templar Port Edinburgh by Sir William St Clair. Architecture hints at Templar influences and pillars depict plants only known in the Americas, which weren’t supposed to have been discovered until fifty years afterwards.1455-1487 – Wars of the Roses dynastic battles over thirty years tied up with England losing control of French territories with sides symbolised by the white Lancastrian and red Yorkshire five-pointed roses, sometimes depicted as white within red as the Tudor Rose. Because the five-petalled rose is a form of hexagram some have suggested that it represents the merging of Lancastrian and Yorkist covens. Wars culminate both dynastically, in the 1486 marriage of Henry VII to Elisabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, and militarily in the 1487 Battle of Bosworth where Henry Tudor’s Yorkist rival Richard III is killed.1489 – Depopulation Act ‘Against Pulling Down Of Towns’ under Henry VII1492-97 – So-called discovery of South America and Caribbean by Christopher Columbus who sailed from Palos de la Frontera in Spain and North America by John Cabot sailing out of Bristol. There is much evidence that the ancient Phoenicians traded across the Atlantic, that some Europeans were aware of the ‘New World’ and that these voyages may have simply made public what elites already knew, to prepare Europeans for coming centuries of colonisation.1509- 1547 – Reign of King Henry VIII1515 – Royal Proclamation ‘Against Engrossing Of Farms’ under Henry VIII1516 – Depopulation Act1516, 1518 and 1519 – Royal Anti-Enclosure Commissions
1534 – Sheep Farming Restraining Act
1535 – Translator of much of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles into English William Tyndale, is executed in Hapsburg Holland by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Concurrently, in Antwerp and working almost exclusively with Luther and Tyndall’s texts, Miles Coverdale publishes the first complete Bible in English.
1536 – Two Depopulation Acts
1536 – 1541 – The English Reformation is beginning in earnest with an attack on the commercial operations of the church. Dissolution of the Monasteries by Oliver Cromwell’s great-great grandfather and Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell – 900 religious business institutions are ‘nationalised’ and sold off. 12,000 in religious orders are sacked as the debt the crown owes to the great monastic institutions, tens of billions of pounds in 2020 money, is cancelled. With Luther and Calvin’s wider ‘Reformation’ comes a tacit encouragement of Freemason lodges, as secret ‘speak-easies’ until emerging officially into public view 180 years or so later. The new ‘protestant’ religion is taking on a distinctly bourgeois, mercantile flavour.
1542 – Henry VIII passes England’s first capital Witchcraft Act removing jurisdiction from the Vatican’s church courts to the crown courts and assizes.
1543-1547 – ‘Act for the Advancement of the True Religion’ in force, making it a crime for the ‘lower sort’ to possess, read or study the Bible in English. It stated that, ‘no women nor artificers, journeymen, serving men of the degree of yeomen or under husbandmen nor labourers’, could read the Bible, ‘privately or openly’.
1545 – Henry VIII signs Usury Act into law permitting interest up to 10% on loans, thereby breaking the medieval Catholic church’s ban on usury. This act was revoked in 1552, but re-enacted under Elizabeth, in 1571. Subsequent Parliaments reduced that rate: to 8% in 1624, to 6% in 1651 and to 5% in 1713. More bourgeois, mercantile changes under the cloak of ‘Protestantism’.
1547-1553 – Reign of King Edward VI
1549, Jul-Aug – Kett’s Rebellion in Norfolk over enclosure. East Anglia ruled for seven weeks from under an oak tree by Robert Kett and 16,000 peasants. Enclosers locked up in Norwich jail for ‘stealing the land’. King Edward VI’s army is twice turned back by the rebels, is then reinforced and defeats them.
1552 and 1555 Depopulation Acts
1553-1558 – Reign of Queen Mary I
1558-1603 – Reign of Queen Elizabeth I
1563 – Depopulation Act repeals all four 1526, 1552 and 1555 Acts as ineffective. Acknowledged or not, this was probably because the administration of all previous acts and commissions since 1489 were in the hands of the landed classes who were profiting personally from enclosure.
1563 – Post-Reformation ‘Witchcraft Act’, passed in Scotland, makes witchcraft, or consulting with witches, a capital crime.
1563 – Elizabeth I’s Witchcraft Act reduces penalties for witchcraft except it remains a capital offence for those proven also to have caused harm.
1577 – John Dee privately publishes his clandestine vision for the ascendancy of a projected British Empire, advised by Christopher Hatton and Robert Dudley, for Elizabeth I in ‘General and Rare Memorials Pertayning to the Perfect Arte of Navigation’. Though part of Dee’s plan, Elizabeth claims privateers Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Hawkins are not working for the crown. [FFI see articles by Alex Grover, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich]
Dec 1577-Sept 1580 – ‘Unofficial’ privateer Francis Drake sails off in The Pelican to plunder Spanish vessels off South America. Being too nervous to return Drake decides to round Cape Horn, renames his ship The Golden Hind and sails up the West coast of the Americas. As the first Englishman to then circumnavigates the world he returns home to a hero’s welcome with so much Spanish gold he pays of the national debt for Elizabeth and receives a knighthood
1581-1795 – Calvinist ‘Dutch Republic’, where Catholics are persecuted. It is to play a major role in providing finance and military expertise to Cromwell during the English civil war. Following the 1660 restoration of Charles II the Dutch republic resumes harrying England’s Catholic kings with the 1665 Monmouth rebellion and much better funded 1688 ‘Glorious revolution’ which finally deposes the Stuart line and imposes a violently anti-Catholic regime.
1590-92 – North Berwick witch trials in which Agnes Sampson, Geillis Duncan and schoolmaster Dr John Fian were accused of being members of a coven at St Andrews’ Auld Kirk. Around 100 people were accused including Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell and other gentry. It’s unclear how many the juries found guilty or were executed.
1593 – Two final Depopulation Acts passed
1597 – James VI of Scotland publishes his ‘Daemonologie’ purporting to detail practices and enable identification of witches.
1600 – Incorporation of the East India Company which began controlling trade for empire in Bengal, India and the far east.
1603, 24 March – James I ascends to the throne of England having been James VI of Scotland for 36 years, uniting the two monarchies and reigning until 1625.
1604 – James I passes a stricter Witchcraft Act reversing Elizabeth I’s leniency. It is enforced by self-styled ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins.
1604-1607 active enclosure revolts in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire, culminating in 1607 in armed revolt under a leader with the pseudonym ‘Captain Pouch’. Forty or fifty rebels out of a rag-tag-army of about a thousand peasants are shot dead at Newton by a ‘body of mounted gentlemen with their servants’, while several others are hanged and quartered.
1605, 05 November – Gunpowder plot orchestrated by Lord Salisbury to test James I and justify persecution of Catholics
1607 – the term ‘Leveller’ is heard for the first time as organised anti-enclosure gangs emerge and ‘riots’ spread around the counties of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
1607 – 1636 the governments of James I and Charles I set themselves against John Dee’s covert empire-building by pursuing an active anti-enclosure policy.
1611 – Publication of King James’ Authorised Version of The Bible, commissioned in 1604 and still recognised as one of the most accurate..
1612, 18-19 August – Pendle witch trials culminating in nine hangings for Maleficium (causing injury by divination) of some self-confessed coven-members on 20th August.
1620 – Voyage of The Mayflower from Plymouth to Cape Cod setting up the first official North American colony.
1625, 27 March – Charles I ascends the British throne on death of James I and reigns until he is executed in 1649.
1626 June – Parliament impeaches Charles I’s friend and adviser George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham so Charles quickly dissolves Parliament.
1629-1640 – ‘Eleven years Tyranny’ as Charles I attempts to rule without Parliament
1629-1640 – The Providence Island Company, with John Pym MP as treasurer, becomes the organisational base for mercantile Puritan opposition to the king and his attempts to rule without parliament. Supposedly set up to open trade with Spanish in Latin America the company becomes a centre for domestic legal, political and military opposition to Charles I. Located 150 miles east of Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast Providence island is ostensibly a model Puritan colony but is used by English Privateers as a base from which to attack Spanish shipping. The Phoenicians (2500-500BC) had also used offshore islands to manage trade and as a base to operate against territories they wished to control.
1630 – Justices of five midland counties are ordered to remove all enclosures made in the previous two years
1632, 1635 and 1636 – Three Royal Anti-Enclosure Commissions levy huge compositions, or fines, on those who have enclosed land in contravention of Depopulation Acts. Charles I levies total of £50,000 ‘compositions’, or fines, as a penalty for depopulation and evictions from 1633 to 1638, some of which are retrospective. Equivalent in 2020 of around £2.2 billion.
1635 – Supposedly converted to Christianity Portuguese-Jewish merchant Antonio Fernandez Carvajal moves to London’s Leadenhall Street as the first endenizened, or naturalised, English Jew for nearly 200 years. His ships trade to the East and West Indies, Brazil, and Levant in gunpowder, wine, hides, pictures, cochineal and corn. Plus he has lucrative government contracts to supply the army with corn and an additional £100,000 annual turnover of silver. Carvajal also brings with him a vast intelligence network of paid informers, of use to any army.
1635 – Charles imposes Ship Money tax to finance the Royal Navy on inland towns and cities which had previously levied only on ports.
13 April – 5 May 1640 – ‘Short Parliament’ summoned by Charles I which insisted on grievances against the king being addressed before voting him any money. Charles then promptly dissolved it.
November 1640 – December 1648 – ‘Long Parliament’ elected. Earl of Strafford (d. May 1641), Cottington, Sir John Finch (escaped to Holland) and Archbishop Laud (d. 1645), who have been running the country for the king, are impeached and either executed or escaped into exile until the restoration.
November 1641 – Parliament states its demands that the king strictly purge the church of England of all ‘Roman Catholic tenancies’ in the ‘Grand Remonstrance’ drafted by Puritan John Pym.
On 4th January 1642 king Charles attempts to arrest the ‘five members’ John Pym, John Hampden, Arthur Hesilrige, Denzil Holles and William Strode for treason. Charles had first gone to the House of Lords demanding they arrest the MPs for him. After a short debate the Lords refused and so Charles and his accompanying guard of soldiers had to go into the Commons themselves to make the arrests. Charles utters the opening line of the English Civil War, “All the birds are flown” and humiliated, leaves London. We now know the five members were already safely hidden in the City of London, which had probably been tipped off by a spy at court.
10 June 1642 – Charles I is forced to leave London for Oxford, establishing his rule in other parts of the country with a virtual line of his support running roughly from Southampton up to Hull. Roughly 1/3 of MPs and the majority of Lords support the king.
22nd August 1642 – Charles raises his standard at Nottingham hoping loyal aristocracy will support him against Parliament. Later in the month Parliament orders al theatres closed.
23rd October 1642 – Battle of Edge Hill between Banbury and Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire proves indecisive with around 15,000 troops on each side.
20 September 1643 – First Battle of Newbury in Berkshire again proves indecisive as the King tries and fails to stop Essex returning to London from Gloucester.
2nd July 1644 – Battle of Marston Moor is a decisive Parliamentary victory near York. Prince Rupert, for the King, took on Cromwell and Fairfax with Edward Manchester in command of the parliamentary army. Confusion reigned on both sides that day but Manchester grabbed the initiative, routing the royalist army inflicting crippling losses, with 4,000 of Charles’ fighting men killed and 1,500 captured. Manchester’s decisive performance as a general that day led to conflict with Cromwell later that year over the conduct of the war. Manchester was dismissed, eventually opposing the trial of Charles I from sidelines.
February 1645: Sums of money which prove to be decisive are spent over the winter refashioning the parliamentary army for what proved to be the decisive 1645 fighting season. Parliament’s New Model Army of 20,000 soldiers is better equipped, disciplined and trained.
14 June 1645 – Battle of Naseby, South of Market Harborough, is the final decisive defeat of the English Civil War. Charles I joined Prince Rupert to command 7,500 cavaliers, who faced around 14,000 New Model Army Roundheads led by Cromwell and Fairfax. 5,000 royalist soldiers are captured leaving Charles’ forces in the midlands decimated and the cities of Leicester, Chester and Winchester all saw the writing on the wall, surrendering to parliament.
10th July 1645 Langport in Somerset saw the Royalists’ final strategic military defeat. Soldiers of Charles’ supporters in the South West were defeated by Fairfax and his well-organised, City of London resourced, army. Bristol merchants had been independent royalists, and remained so until the following September when, under siege, they surrendered England’s second city to the roundheads. So furious was Cromwell with Bristol for holding an independent line against his merchant forces, he had his engineers level the city’s historic castle with explosives after the war.
July 1645: Leveller pamphleteer Lt. Col. John Lilburne is arrested
Elizabeth Lilburne women’s petition to parliament
1646 – in his memoirs Elias Ashmole records his initiation into freemasonry at Warrington sixty years before Freemasonry is supposed to exist in England
12 November 1646 – Charles I loses the battle of Newark and is taken into custody by the Scottish army
January 1647 – Scots deliver Charles over to parliament for the sum of £100,000
June 1647 – trouble at’ mill – Cromwell settles with army agitators
June and July 1647 – letters pass between Oliver Cromwell and Amsterdam’s Mulheim Synagogue financier Ebenezer Pratt about Jews being readmitted to England in exchange for his financial support and advice.
11 November 1647 – Charles is deliberately allowed to escape from Hampton Court for pro-Cromwell dramatic effect and makes his way to the Isle Of Wight, from where he plans to escape to France. IoW governor Colonel Robert Hammond is not so sympathetic as Charles had hoped and he is re-imprisoned in Carisbrooke castle.
August 1648 King Charles I is taken prisoner.
- September 1648 – In his pamphlet ‘Les Francs-Maçons Écrasés’ (1774) French Catholic priest Abbé Larudan alleges Cromwell, realising his own life will be forfeit if negotiations for peace with Charles proceed, forms a witchcraft cell to push through the execution Charles, under Masonic guise. The inauguration takes place at a location in King’s Street, St. James, London over two evening meetings four days apart. Named as present are Oliver Cromwell, his son-in-law Henry Ireton, Algernon Sidney, a Mr. Newell, Martin Wildeman, James Harrington (colonel of the London trained bands), George Monck Parliamentary commander-in-chief Thomas Fairfax along with many others. The ‘holy spirit’ is said to have visited Cromwell during the intervening days to affirm god’s support for him and his group. The ostensible aim is the rebuilding of ‘proper Christian order’ and once they have been inducted at their second meeting a painting of Solomon’s ruined Temple is presented to initiates in a neighbouring room, illustrating the ‘task in hand’. A master, two wardens, a secretary and speaker are all appointed as this newly formed cult’s officers which consists of all factions in Parliament, church and army. It proceeds to spy on MPs to assess their views on negotiation with or trial of Charles I in preparation for Pride’s purge three months later. So, did Cromwell ‘do a deal with the devil’? Exactly a decade later Cromwell is dead. Rumours survive about Cromwell ‘selling his soul to the devil’ at the 1651 battle of Worcester.20 November 1648 – Cromwell’s son-in-law Henry Ireton’s Remonstrance is presented to Parliament calling for the trial of Charles I for treason.2 December 1648 Charles I is held in Hurst CastleOn 1st December, the House of Commons resists Ireton’s calls to proceed to try the king, voting by 129 to 83, a majority of 46 votes, to accept the King’s terms for his restoration to power.The following day the New Model Army occupies London and arrests 41 MPs who had most actively supported the king, hoping that this will send a clear message to the others, if just a few of those remaining who support the king change their mind no further action by the army will be necessary.6 December 1648 – The Rump Parliament is created with Pride’s Purge. Acting on orders from Cromwell’s son-in-law General Henry Ireton, and apparently unknown to army chief General Fairfax, Colonel Thomas Pride surrounds parliament with troops and ‘purges’ Parliament of a further 140 or so MPs who had voted for the negotiated settlement with Charles. This leaves only 71 out of the originally elected 489 MPs still sitting, the so-called ‘Rump Parliament’. Around two hundred of the Long Parliament’s original MPs are now in prison and around the same number in fear of the army, afraid to speak out. Ninety MPs, the majority of those who voted the previous day to negotiate with the king, are purged from parliament along with 45 who resisted arrest detained for several days. Those considered most dangerous to Cromwell’s cause. Sir William Waller, Sir John Clotworthy and Lionel Copley are imprisoned in the tower without charge for many years. Denzil Holles, Colonel Massey and Major-General Browne escape to the continent.4th January 1649 a motion is but before parliament proposing the king be tried for treason. Only 46 of the Rump’s 71 MPs turn up to vote and 26 vote in favour, a majority of six is enough. The following day the Lords vote overwhelmingly against the same motion, but the vote is set aside by the then government, Cromwell’s Council of State. General Henry Ireton’s demand that Charles be put on trial is now voted through. In public Oliver Cromwell said he had his doubts about the purges and at the end of December he tells the House of Commons “the providence of God hath cast this upon us”. Once the decision had been made Cromwell “threw himself into it with the vigour he always showed when his mind was made up, when God had spoken”.
- 20 January 1649 – a court is convened in Westminster Hall and Charles I is charged with “waging war on Parliament.” It was claimed that he was responsible for “all the murders, burnings, damages and mischiefs to the nation” in the English Civil War. The jury included remaining members of Parliament, army officers and large landowners. Some of the 135 jurors did not turn up for the trial. For example. General Thomas Fairfax, the leader of the Parliamentary Army, did not appear. When his name was called, his masked wife, Lady Anne Fairfax, shouted out, “He has more wit than to be here,” and was whisked out of the public gallery before she could be arrested. After the court had been sworn in Charles demanded to know by what authority he had been brought to trial. President of the court John Bradshaw replied ‘In the name of Parliament assembled and all the good people of England’. Lady Fairfax who had quietly returned sprang up again ‘It is a lie! Not a half – nay, not a quarter of the people of England’ and she was once more spirited away.30 January 1649 – Outside the old Palace of Whitehall Charles I is executed. Immediately afterwards, to the consternation of the regicides, his memoir ‘Eikon Basiliske’ (Portrait of the King, his sacred majesty’s solitude and sufferings) is published. Sold amongst the silent crowds, and after more than twenty editions, it went on to become one of England’s all time bestsellers. England is now a military dictatorship run by Cromwell and his Council Of State’ appointees.1649-1660 – Elected by The Rump Parliament after the House of Lords has been abolished the Council of State assumes virtually sole executive powers during the interregnum.Wednesday 28th March 1649 – Early morning arrest of Leveller pamphleteers John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Richard Overton and Thomas Prince – Cromwell launches ‘project fear’ on the Council Of State ‘…if you do not break them they will break you, yea, and bring all the guilt of the blood and treasure shed and spent in this kingdom upon your heads and shoulders…’ – proposes all four prisoners are committed to the tower and wins by one vote. From the king’s execution to Charles II’s 1660 restoration Cromwell’s Council of State runs the country as a military dictatorship with various purged, ineffective parliaments.1 and 18 April 1649 – two separate 10,000 signature Petitions for Levellers’ release23 April 1649 – Women’s 10,000 signature petition to Parliament served, demanding release of the four Leveller captives and an end to arbitrary rule which is bringing famine to the land
- 1 May 1649 – The Agreement of the People published – Leveller manifesto
- May 1649 – Wages unpaid and refusing to fight in Ireland, hundreds of parliamentary Leveller soldiers sack their officers at Burford, Oxfordshire. Cromwell arrests them in a midnight raid and next day three soldiers are executed for mutiny. Commemorated in Burford at the annual ‘Levellers Day’ with music, speeches, and a march from the parish church where soldiers and their horses were imprisoned.
- 1650-1720 – the ‘golden age’ of piracy. The British secret state’s sponsorship of pirates is denied, just as Elizabeth denied she’d supported privateers Drake, Raleigh etc. The Royal Navy ‘state within a state’ works hard to fulfil John Dee’s vision for Britain’s dominance of the high seas as the empire is established
- 3 September 1651- Battle of Worcester – final battle of the English Civil war with Charles II leading a Scottish army. Parliamentarian soldiers outnumber Royalists roughly 2:1 – Royalist casualties of c. 3,000 are roughly five times that of the Parliamentary army and 10,000 royalist soldiers are captured – a resounding defeat for Charles II
- 3 September – Wednesday 15 October 1651 – Charles II goes ‘on the run’ for an exciting six weeks days after losing the battle of Worcester. Disguised as an ostler he heads down the West side of England to Charmouth in Dorset where Captain Limbry fails to smuggle him to France. Charles eventually makes it across the channel from Shoreham, Sussex in Captain Tattersall’s coal freighter ‘The Surprise’ with his adventure being recorded in ‘The Flight Of The King’ by Allan Fea.(1908). Charles then resides in Paris, near Charles I’s exiled queen consort Henrietta Maria, later moving his court to Cologne.
- 4th July to 12 December 1653 – ‘Barebones Parliament’ of 140 Cromwell appointees replaces the Rump Parliament who are ejected by Cromwell’s soldiers.
- 16th December 1653 – 25 May 1659 – ‘The Protectorate’. After Barebones is dissolved the ‘Instrument of Government’ creates the office of Lord Protector for Cromwell who chairs the Council Of State now as sole military rulers.
- March 1655 – Uprising in Wiltshire against Cromwell’s military rule led by Colonel John Penruddock who led his followers into Salisbury and declared Charles II king. The rebellion was crushed, its leaders executed and English military rule suppressing all gatherings and pastimes was formalised into 11 districts each run by a major-general for the next two years.
- December 14, 1655 – After much lobbying by founder of Holland’s first Hebrew printing press Menasseh Ben Israel, Jews are allowed back into England for the first time since they were expelled in 1290.
- 25 may 1657 – Humble Petition and Advice offers Cromwell the title of King which he rejects.
- 3 September 1658 – Cromwell dies aged 59.
- 14 April – 29 December 1660 – Convention Parliament elected.
- 1660 – Restoration of Charles II to the English throne after his exile in France and the death of Oliver Cromwell – known as a time of great literary and cultural freedom: comedies by Dryden, Wycherley, Ertheridge, Sedley, Buckhurst etc, after previous grim decade of puritan rule.
- June-July 1685 – Exiled after the 1683 Rye House Plot, James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, launched the Protestant Monmouth Rebellion on 11th June 1685 landing with at Lyme Regis in a failed attempt to depose James II. On 6th July Battle of Sedgemoor near Bridgwater, Somerset, finishes off this rather insufficient attempt by Protestants to cut off the Catholic Stuart line.
- 5th November 1688 – William of Orange lands at Torbay with 14,000 soldiers and 5,000 horses. Coup d’état or ‘Glorious Revolution’ follows as James II is forced into exile in Ireland while Protestant, William III, ‘King Billy’ takes the English throne. This also begins the Catholic ‘Jacobite’ movement committed to restoring the Stuart line. Jacobite areas tend to be Scotland, Northern England and the South-West, the old royalist regions of the English Civil War.
- 1707 – Great Britain comes into being after the passage of the Treaty of Union with Scotland.
- 27 August 1715 – Jacobite rising by the ‘Old Pretender’ James Edward Stuart, son of deposed King James II, to regain the crown of England, Scotland and Ireland. On 14th November his army surrendered at Preston and the rebellion was over.
- 1717 – Official establishment of Freemasonry in London, a religious cult which has similar initiation rituals to witchcraft and had been operating for around a century.
- 1737 – Andrew Ramsay reveals the 33 degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, so named because no decree had ever been issued by Scottish Monarchs banning the Knights Templar.
- 1745 – Bonnie Prince Charlie leads abortive Jacobite rebel march on London
- 1951 – The Fraudulent Mediums Act makes witchcraft legal in Britain for the first time since 1542.
In his 1826 novel ‘Woodstock’ Sir Walter Scott recounts, ‘the bankrupt brewer of Huntingdon’, and other contemporary cavalier quips about Oliver Cromwell’s obscure pre-war life. The aggressive, failed manager mysteriously given a new role as an MP.
It should be clear by now that Charles was not simply dealing with an organised faction of merchants who wished to see the nation run more efficiently. No, behind these various plots was a conscious choice to sidestep Christianity, the moral code that had been keeping them in their place. As the joyless, pecuniary policies of the pseudo-Christian Puritans also implies. In taking on parliament and the City of London was Charles confronting John Dee’s well-organised criminal conspiracy? Dark forces at play with nothing less than the world as their prize?
Is it this stepping into the spiritual that makes so many historians baulk at addressing the wickedness of overthrowing the monarchy in the seventeenth century, to replace it with a system of glorious rule by Cromwell’s council of state? Where a secret cabal gets to hire and fire those on the panel and there is limited free speech. In 1649 Burford even parliamentary soldiers thought Cromwell might be worse than the king.
However wicked a king might be, and Henry VIII was one of the most despotic rulers since Herod, every once in a while the feudal system throws up a good sort. It did with Charles and there was nothing the oligarchy, organised crime, could do to unseat him except character assassination followed by kangaroo court and execution.
Reading list – in order of personal preference
Old Rowley, The Private Life Of Charles II by Dennis Wheatley (1933) – affectionate roller coaster ride through young Charles survival and resurgence after the war including easy to follow up detail on the cultural thrill of the restoration
The Levellers And The English Revolution by Henry H. Brailsford (1961) – takes us through the formation and attempted destruction of Cromwell’s key Leveller opponents, along with their offshoots. Though Brailsford is an internationalist he shows deep understanding for the spiritual and moral factions on both sides of the war
Edmund Ludlow And The English Civil War edited by Jane Shuter (1994) – fascinating account of a Parliamentary commander who finds himself slowly losing faith in the cause for which he has been fighting
Born In Blood, The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry by John J. Robinson (1989) – Extraordinary historical exploration of the previously hidden origins of eighteenth century Freemasonry in ancient and medieval secret societies.
The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill (1972) – Detailed analysis of seventeenth century counter-culture centred around the protestant reformation and agricultural reforms being imposed on England and the cataclysmic Civil War which followed.
The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray (1921) – A study of the underground persistence of secret Canaanite and Phoenician religious cults under the surface of gentile modern European society.
Who we are
The Land Is Ours was set up in 1995 by writer George Monbiot with the aim to echo in the UK land rights campaigns across the developing world, notably Brazil’s landless movement (MST). Also to take up the cause through non-violent direct action of forgotten Diggers, Chartists and Land Leaguers on our own islands. You can find us online at www.tlio.org.uk and join the Diggers list, set up in Easter 1999 when we occupied St George’s Hill, Surrey for two weeks on the Diggers’ 350th anniversary, by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Land is a free gift to mankind so should never be considered private property like other things. ‘True Leveller’ Gerrard Winstanley said ‘The Earth is a Common Treasury for All, Without Respect of Persons’. Winstanley died a Quaker and the Bible puts it thus: The land is not to be sold permanently, for the Earth is mine, sayeth The Lord God, and you are but my tenants. Leviticus 25:25.