England: 1660: horrible killing of republican lawyer John Cooke


This video from the USA says about itself: ‘Excerpt from the historical monologue “400 Years of English History” presented by artist/historian George S. Stuart as part of an exhibit of his Historical Figures at the Ventura County Museum of Art and History in Ventura California.’

Book review by Phil Shannon:

The courage to condemn a king

The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who sent Charles I to the Scaffold

By Geoffrey Robertson

Vintage Books, 2006
429 pages, $35 (pb)

“You shall be hung by the neck”, declaimed the gleeful judge in 1660, “and being alive shall be cut down, and your privy members to be cut off, your entrails to be taken out of your body and (you living) the same to be burnt before your eyes, and your head to be cut off, your body to be divided into four quarters to be disposed of at the pleasure of the King’s Majesty”.

John Cooke, son of a poor farmer who rose to become the solicitor-general of England during its republican days (1649-1660) and who prosecuted King Charles I in 1649 for war crimes, was to have a death, the grisliness of which would deter others from questioning the rule of monarchs.

In The Tyrannicide Brief, Geoffrey Robertson expertly hangs out the dirty legal linen of the “trial” of Cooke, “one of English history’s most shameful episodes, white-washed by lawyers and ignored by historians”, who prefer to dismiss Cooke as a “Puritan fanatic” and a “dodgy lawyer” prepared to do the dirty work of regicide (the execution of Charles I in the English Revolution).

These caricatures of Cooke are so at odds with reality, says Robertson, and so politically poisoned, that a defence of this brave and principled barrister is long (three and a half centuries) overdue.

Debates during 17th century English revolution: here. Like the Putney debates in 1644: here.

The Levellers: here.

On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire, England. They were the leaders of 300 men who belonged to the movement known as the Levellers. They had decided to fight against Cromwell who they considered was betraying the ideals of what the “Civil War”, i.e. the English Revolution, had been about: here.

Thomas Hobbes: here. And here.

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27 thoughts on “England: 1660: horrible killing of republican lawyer John Cooke

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