Cromwell and the Execution of Charles I
Oliver Cromwell was at heart no republican; but he believed that God manifested His will through the triumphs or misfortunes that He awarded to those engaged in “great businesses”. Charles Ogilvie writes how Charles's continued misjudgments revealed that, if the world were to be made safe for the “Godly,” the King must be executed.
Cromwell was responsible for the execution of the King. A mere handful, possibly not more than a few hundred people, were really determined to put the King to death. Without Cromwell’s active support they would have been powerless. But he was almost a majority in himself, and once his mind was made up that the King must die, Charles’s fate was sealed.
Cromwell was in no sense a republican. He cared little for forms of government. But it is certain that for long, probably up to the outbreak of the second civil war, he would have preferred a return to the ancient order, Kings, Lords, and Commons, provided that the world could be made safe for the “Godly.” He had carried on protracted negotiations with Charles after the first civil war, and had respected and Carisbrooke, from an eighteenth-century print: it was Charles’s arrest in the Isle of Wight that apparently caused Cromwell “to begin to make up his mind about the King’s future” even admired him.
He was, moreover, naturally a kind man, with strong affections and neither bloodthirsty nor revengeful despite the awful massacres at Drogheda and Wexford, which he regarded as having been planned by God. He was also a shrewd observer. By 1648 the bulk of the nation was Royalist; many of those who had fought against Charles reverted to their old allegiance once he was a prisoner and unable to do them further harm.