Following the English civil war (1642-1648), Parliament was faced with the dilemma of whether to return King Charles I to power. Charles however refused to agree to Parliament’s conditions – a Presbyterian national church, parliamentary control of the executive and army, and punishment of Royalist supporters.
While Parliament argued about what to do with the King, Charles was developing an understanding with Scotland, which promised military support for a Royalist uprising in England. When word got out that Charles was planning to invite a foreign army to march against England, Parliament and the English army were furious. Parliament hesitated to take the drastic step of deposing the King; but a faction of the army had adopted a more radical, democratic agenda, and insisted that Charles be deposed and tried for treason. The army marched on Parliament in December 1648. Troops arrested 45 Members of Parliament and kept 146 out of the chamber. Only 75 Members were allowed in, on the understanding that they would act on the army’s command. This Rump Parliament received orders to set up, in the name of the people of England, a High Court of Justice for the Trial of Charles I. The Commissioners found the King guilty of high treason. He was beheaded outside the Palace of Whitehall in January 1649.