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Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 6, 2014
Pride’s Purge

Pride’s Purge

December 6, 1648: Pride’s Purge takes place. Colonel Thomas Pride of the New Model Army removed all of those who did not support the Grandees from the Long Parliament during the Second English Civil War. It remains the only military coup d’état in English history. King Charles I was being held at Carisbrooke Castle and the first stage of the Civil War was over. The Long Parliament had issued demands for the future government and sent representatives to negotiate with the King over the terms of the Treaty of Newport. The leaders of the New Model Army had been unsuccessful in negotiations in 1647 after the First Civil War ended in 1646. The King had played different factions of Parliament against each other and even managed to escape. This led to the Second Civil War.

By the time the King was recaptured, most of Parliament realized the king could not be trusted. Negotiations and votes followed and on December 5, 1648, the House of Commons voted to accept the King’s answers. Colonel Pride’s Regiment of Foot took up position on the stairs leading to chambers and Nathanial Rich’s Regiment of Horse provided backup. As Members of Parliament arrived, they were checked against a list provided by Lord Grey of Groby. This list identified those who should be arrested. The military kept control of the entrances until December 12, when they had purged the Parliament and arrested 45 MPs. It is unknown how many were meant to be arrested. There were 507 seats, 18 of them empty. Many MPs stayed away as they heard of the arrests.

After the purge was completed, just over 200 members sat in what came to be called the Rump Parliament. Of the smaller number, 86 absented themselves voluntarily. After formally dissenting from the decision to accept the King’s proposals, 83 were permitted back in. Seventy-one members had been supporters of the army before the purge began. After the arrests, the MPs were taken and held with the first men released on December 12 and more released on December 20. Of the 45 arrested, 25 were freed before Christmas. On January 4, 1649, an Ordinance was passed to try the King for treason. The House of Lords rejected it but the House of Commons passed it unilaterally. The King was beheaded on January 30 and the House of Lords was abolished on February 6.

With the King dead, the monarchy itself was abolished on February 7 and a Council of State was established on February 14. Between the purge and the King’s execution, only about 70 men attended the House of Commons and the House of Lords rarely had even a dozen members sitting. The Purge was reversed on February 21, 1660 when the surviving barred members were restored to the Long Parliament and they proclaimed Charles II King which restored the monarchy. There is no direct proof that Cromwell was the mastermind behind the Purge, but he did immediately make his way to London and there is speculation he may have had a hand in the planning of the Purge itself.

A military coup needs a sacrifice and courage that you can’t find in an army without morale. – Jalal Talabani

There is a frustration too, that at moments when there’s not a coup, when there are not people in the streets, that the country disappears from people’s consciousness. – Edwidge Danticat

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. – Niccolo Machiavelli

We revolutionaries acknowledge the right to revolution when we see that the situation is no longer tolerable, that it has become a frozen. Then we have the right to overthrow it. – Ernst Toller

Also on this day: Encyclopædia Britannica – In 1768, the first edition of the encyclopedia is released.
Under My Thumb – In 1969, a rock concert ends in murder.
Blood in the Water – In 1956, the Melbourne Olympics became violent.
Boom – In 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour.

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3 Responses

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  1. hairballexpress said, on December 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Such interesting history! What was the difference between the House of Lords and the House of Commons? (Functions)?? (Inquiring KATS want to know)! 💚

    • patriciahysell said, on December 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      The House of Lords is aristocracy. The House of Commons is, well, the hoi paloi, the common man, the lower crust, as it were.


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