Fresh from its victory, the New Model pushed over the Border, while the peasants of Ayrshire and the west rose in the "Whiggamore raid" (notable as the first event in which we find the name "Whig," which is possibly the same as our "Whey," and conveys a taunt against the "sour-milk ' faces of the fanatical Ayrshiremen), and, marching upon Edinburgh, dispersed the royalist party and again installed Argyle in power.
Argyle welcomed Cromwell as a deliverer, but the victorious general had hardly entered Edinburgh when he was recalled by pressing news from the south. The temper with which the Parliament had met the royalist revolt was, as we have seen, widely different from that of the army. It had recalled the eleven members, and had passed the Ordinance against heresy. At the moment of the victory at Preston the Lords were discussing charges of treason against Cromwell, while commissioners were again sent to the Isle of Wight, in spite of the resistance of the Independents, to conclude peace with the King. Royalists and Presbyterians alike pressed Charles to grasp the easy terms which were now offered him. But his hopes from Scotland had only broken down to give place to hopes of a new war with the aid of an army from Ireland; and the negotiators saw forty days wasted in useless chicanery. "Nothing," Charles wrote to his friends, " is changed in my designs." But the surrender of Colchester to Fairfax in August, and Cromwell's convention with Argyle, had now set free the army, and petitions from its regiments at once demanded "justice on the King." A fresh "Remonstrance" from the Council of Officers called for the election of a new Parliament; for electoral reform; for the recognition of the supremacy of the Houses " in all things; "for the change of kingship, should it be retained, into a magistracy elected by the Parliament, and without veto on its proceedings.
Above all, they demanded " that the capital and grand author of our troubles, by whose commissions, commands, and procurements, and in whose behalf and for whose interest only, of will and power, all our wars and troubles have been, with all the miseries attending them, may be specially brought to justice for the treason, blood, and mischief he is therein guilty of." The demand drove the Houses to despair. Their reply was to accept the King's concessions, unimportant as they were, as a basis of peace. The step was accepted by the soldiers as a defiance: Charles was again seized by a troop of horse, and carried off to Hurst Castle, while a letter from Fairfax announced the march of his army upon London. "We shall know now," said Vane, as the troops took their post round the Houses of Parliament, "who is on the side of the King, and who on the side of the people." But the terror of the army proved weaker among the members than the agonized loyalty which strove to save the monarchy and the Church, and a large majority in both Houses still voted for the acceptance of the terms which Charles had offered. The next morning saw Colonel Pride at the door of the House of Commons with a list of forty members of the majority in his hands.
The Council of Officers had resolved to exclude them, and as each member made his appearance he was arrested, and put in confinement. " By what right do you act?" a member asked. "By the right of the sword," Hugh Peters is said to have replied. The House was still resolute, but on the following morning forty more members were excluded, and the rest gave way. The sword had fallen; and the two great powers which had waged this bitter conflict, the Parliament and the Monarchy, suddenly disappeared. The expulsion of one hundred and forty members, in a word of the majority of the existing House, reduced the Commons to a name. The remnant who remained to co-operate with the army were no longer representative of the will of the country; in the coarse imagery of popular speech they were but the "rump" of a Parliament. While the House of Commons dwindled to a sham, the House of Lords passed away altogether. The effect of "Pride's Purge" was seen in a resolution of the Rump for the trial of Charles and the nomination of a Court of one hundred and fifty Commissioners to conduct it, with John Bradshaw, a lawyer of eminence, at their head.
The rejection of this Ordinance by the few peers who remained brought about a fresh resolution from members who remained in the Lower House, " that the People are, under God, the original of all just power; that the Commons of England in Parliament assembled - being chosen by, and representing, the People - have the supreme power in this nation; and that whatsoever is enacted and declared for law by the Commons in Parliament assembled hath the force of a law, and all the people of this nation are concluded thereby, although the consent and concurrence of the King or House of Peers be not had thereunto".
Charles appeared before Bradshaw's Court only to deny its competence and to refuse to plead; but thirty-two witnesses were examined to satisfy the consciences of his judges, and it was not till the fifth day of the trial that he was condemned to death as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and enemy of his country. The popular excitement vented itself in cries of "Justice," or "God save your Majesty," as the trial went on, but all save the loud outcries of the soldiers was hushed as Charles passed to receive his doom. The dignity which he had failed to preserve in his long jangling with Bradshaw and the judges returned at the call of death. Whatever had been the faults and follies of his life, "he nothing common did nor mean, upon that memorable scene." Two masked executioners awaited the King as he mounted the scaffold, which had been erected outside one of the windows of the Banqueting House at Whitehall; the streets and roofs were thronged with spectators, and a strong body of soldiers stood drawn up beneath.
His head fell at the first blow, and as the executioner lifted it to the sight of all a groan of pity and horror burst from the silent crowd.