(King Charles I), Richard Harris
(Oliver Cromwell) and Robert Morley (Lord Manchester) starred in the movie Oliver Cromwell
and I thought as historical cinema goes it was pretty good and enjoyable. It captured the tension and strategy between Cromwell
and the King nicely. Guinness was superb in his portrayal of the King's wizened demeanor, his domestic frettings and even his royal sounding lisp. According to one historical account I have read Cromwell was to have said to members of the Parliament of the King "I tell you we shall have his head with the crown still on it". The movie rendered it "I shall have this King's head and the crown upon it." Slightly different. Was Cromwell the idealist or the opportunist? That seems to be the historical question mark. So much turns on the so few words and a little emphasis.
The trial of the King is an honest to goodness paradigm shift. Parliament claimed authority to judge and condemn. The king, who believed in the Church based Divine Right of Kings saw only a 'power' though not legitimate. After his condemnation, he stated he knew as much law as any man though he was not a lawyer and "I have a right to be heard" but the Parliamentarians asserted that since he did not recognize Parliament why should they hear his last arguments.
By all accounts the King died nobly paraphrasing something from Saint Paul about moving on from a corruptible crown to an incorruptible crown. One wonders if the events softened Cromwell to the point of being a fairly good ruler during whose government many aspects of modernism were set in place.
It is a tragic and very moving story. Apparently Thomas Carlysle was one of the first modern historians to put together what actually happened in those days of the seventeenth century and he complained about a veritable 'blackout' during those times. He found reams of un-indexed papers stored away in museums from which to work but very little accurate history note taking.
They must have been dark times.