Killers of the King (Hardcover)

The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I

By Charles Spencer

Bloomsbury Press, 9781620409121, 352pp.

Publication Date: January 20, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/16/2016)
MP3 CD (2/16/2016)
MP3 CD (6/27/2015)

List Price: 30.00*
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On August 18, 1648, with no relief from the siege in sight, the royalist garrison holding Colchester Castle surrendered and Oliver Cromwell's army firmly ended the rule of Charles I of England. To send a clear message to the fallen monarch, the rebels executed four of the senior officers captured at the castle. Yet still, the king refused to accept he had lost the war. As France and other allies mobilized in support of Charles, a tribunal was hastily gathered and a death sentence was passed. On January 30, 1649, the King of England was executed. This is the account of the fifty-nine regicides, the men who signed Charles I's death warrant.

Recounting a little-known corner of British history, Charles Spencer explores what happened when the Restoration arrived. From George Downing, the chief plotter, to Richard Ingoldsby, who claimed he was forced to sign his name by his cousin Oliver Cromwell, and from those who returned to the monarchist cause and betrayed their fellow regicides to those that fled the country in an attempt to escape their punishment, Spencer examines the long-lasting, far-reaching consequences not only for those who signed the warrant, but also for those who were present at the trial and for England itself.

A powerful tale of revenge from the dark heart of England's past, and a unique contribution to seventeenth-century history, Killers of the King tells the incredible story of the men who dared to assassinate a monarch.

About the Author

Charles Spencer was educated at Eton College and obtained his degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a reporter on NBC's Today show from 1986 until 1995, and is the author of four books, including the Sunday Times bestseller Blenheim: The Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, National Book Awards) and Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier.

Praise For Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I

“This is a pacy, well-researched and beautifully written story of intrigue, betrayal and Realpolitik, but above all cold-blooded institutionalized revenge on a massive international scale. No-one will ever see ‘the Merry Monarch' Charles II in the same way again. Little did the regicides guess when they signed Charles I's death warrant that they were effectively also signing their own.” —Andrew Roberts, author of NAPOLEON AND WELLINGTON

“Accomplished and gruesome, this masterful account of the fate of the regicides breaks all barriers in weaving the lives--and the grim fates--of many into a seamless, pacy and riveting read, underpinned by the depth of scholarship for which Charles Spencer is renowned. An exceptional and highly original history book that sheds new light on one of England's bloodiest episodes.” —Alison Weir, author of HENRY VIII: THE KING AND HIS COURT

“Imagine The Odessa File re-shaped to the contours of the 17th century, and you will have some idea of the pleasure to be had in reading Killers Of The King. The virtues of a thriller and of scholarship are potently combined.” —Tom Holland, author of RUBICON: THE LAST YEARS OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC

“Outstanding: a thrilling tale of retribution and bloody sacrifice, unflinching idealism and craven miscreancy. In fluent, measured, often witty prose, Killers of the King brilliantly evokes that febrile time when the hunters became the hunted and vengeance was avenged. Like all the best history books, it succeeds not only in telling a remarkable story, but also in illuminating the entire age.” —Jessie Childs, author of GOD'S TRAITORS: TERROR AND FAITH IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND

“This is a worthwhile examination of an often ignored aspect of English history.” —Booklist

“While many readers already know the story's end, Spencer purposefully builds anticipation over which men suffer excruciating death and which ones literally get away with murder.” —Publishers Weekly

“A gripping account of the aftermath of Britain's revolution, during which both sides fought for justice and Christianity and behaved despicably.” —starred review, Kirkus

“Spencer (Blenheim) has taken a novel approach to the history of the English Civil War (1642-51) and the Restoration that began in 1660. Rather than focusing on battles or court intrigues, Spencer gives the accounts of the regicides: the men who signed the warrant to have Charles I (1600-49) executed. This is an ambitious project as 59 men in total signed the document . . . This account is readable and entertaining . . . Spencer's excellent popular history will appeal to fans of Alison Weir and those interested in British history.” —Library Journal

“The author is a practiced writer with an eye for striking details.” —Wall Street Journal

“This is one of history's great manhunt stories, expertly, briskly told. Spencer is a graceful and particularly evenhanded writer, and he lets these 70 men's stories carry their own weight and speak their own lessons on justice, loyalty and allegiance, and the strange and oftentimes fatal turns they take.” —Dallas Morning News

“Charles Spencer has written a book that is equal parts detective novel, thriller and horror story.” —The Historical Novel Society

“British author and historian Charles Spencer brings to light a riveting, historic tale of powerful revenge, and its centuries-long consequences, surrounding the execution of Charles I.” —New Canaan Advertiser

"Charles Spencer’s Killers of the King tautly brings out the human drama of the regicides in 1649 who executed Charles I." —World Magazine

Coverage from NPR