Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Trial of King Charles I - In Our Time

In Our Time will be on BBC Radio Four tomorrow with a new program. The latest issue about the trial of King Charles the first will by then be taken out of the feed.

The trial of King Charles is treated as an exceptional novelty at the time. It replaces the sheer coup with regicide to a process in which the leader of the nation is held responsible before the law. This seems like a logical follow-up to the chapter about the Magna Carta, where also the reign of the king is bound to the law. The next step was to bind the King also to values and principles of Justice. Thus Charles could be beheaded for this and set a precedent for the trial of King Louis in the French Revolution up to the War Crime tribunals after WW II.

The interesting thing in the discussion is that Charles saw it otherwise. He was the sovereign, who but God could hold him responsible. It took him by surprise that they were actually going to execute him. And so this trial also has traits of a staged case. In that respect it also sets precedent for the future that followed. Show trials all over.

More In Our Time:
St. Paul,
Whale evolution,
Magna Carta,
BBC's In Our Time - always recommended,
Brave New World.
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