In January the Scots handed King Charles I over to the English. He had surrendered to the Scots int he hope that they would treat him better than the English and as a strategy for sowing political disharmony amongst his enemies. The Scots sold him to the English for £40,000.
On the 15th March Harlech Castle surrendered after a ten month siege. The constable of the castle had been in post since 1644. His name was William Owen who originated from Shropshire. Harlech itself had always been in the possession of the king. Perhaps because it wasn’t readily accessible to artillery it remained unchallenged until the final months of the civil war. This was probably just as well as Owen’s garrison comprised just fifteen men. Owen took himself off to Scotland and after the Royalist defeat found himself in Nottingham Castle. He was required to pay a fine of £400 before being allowed home. However he wasn’t required to pay one tenth of his income in tax as many other Royalists were required to do.
All that remained was to negotiate a settlement with the King and set up a series of laws for the good governance of the three kingdoms – even though no one could accuse what was happening in Ireland of being peaceful. Generals Ireton and Lambert drafted something called the Heads of Proposals. Essentially England would become Presbyterian, Parliament would have control of the armed forces and Royalists would not be allowed to hold office for five years.
Many army officers and soldiers were unhappy about the fact that Parliament would even consider negotiating with the king. It was one of the causal factors that led to the Putney Debates. The so-called “Grandees” who had negotiated with the king were seen as having failed the Parliamentarian cause. By August five radical cavalry regiments had elected agitators to state their views. One of their demands was for universal male suffrage, i.e. a levelling. The Grandees, Cromwell amongst them, invited the radicals to debate their demands – resulting in the Putney Debates which started on the 28th October and lasted for three days.
Unfortunately Cromwell became alarmed at the extent of the radical ideas expressed so the debaters were ordered back to their regiments. A document was drawn up to replace the one which the Levellers had presented. This did not go down well in the radical regiments. On the 15th November there was almost a mutiny which had to be suppressed before matters got out of hand.
Meanwhile – in June Parliament decided that Christmas was a nasty superstitious sort of event. They also banned Easter and Whitsun. As a result when Christmas came around rather than conforming with the new rules there were riots in Kent which swiftly evolved into the Second English Civil War.
The king had decided that he didn’t like the turn of events, the Levellers’ plan didn’t leave much room for a king and he became convinced that he would be assassinated. So he decided to escape Parliament. There was also the small matter of a constitutional monarchy. On November 11th Charles escaped from Hampton Court in the direction of the New Forest – where he became lost. He had aimed to make for Jersey but ended up on the Isle of Wight where he was recaptured.