1649 and the execution of King Charles

CFP: a conference in London, 7 Feb 2009

Call for papers: 1649 and the execution of King Charles

Conference to be held at the Institute of Historical Research Senate House, Malet Street London WC1 Saturday 7 February 2009

30 January 1649 is one of the key dates in the history of British democracy but it is commemorated nowhere in Britain. It was the day when King Charles 1st was beheaded and the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell, the foundation of modern Parliamentary democracy, came into effective being. It was a revolutionary moment and it brought onto the historical stage people, ideas and movements that went well beyond anything that Cromwell and the senior leadership of the New Model Army had in mind.
Brian Manning in his seminal book on 1649 notes that this was a year when popular mobilisations did not happen. There was no popular uprising to mark the Commonwealth, and no popular protest at the execution of the King. There was however an Army revolt at Burford, also celebrating its anniversary this year, which was brutally put down by Cromwell. 1649 was also the year when Cromwell landed in Dublin to initiate brutal episodes in Ireland.

This conference will look at the liberties and democratic practices ushered in by 1649 and at those who wanted to take them further.

Keynote speakers confirmed so far include Geoffrey Robertson (author, The Tyrannicide Brief), Geoff Kennedy (author, Diggers, Levellers and Agrarian Capitalism, forthcoming), John Rees (author, A Rebel's Guide to Milton, forthcoming) and Norah Carlin (author, The Causes of the English Civil War).

Papers will be considered on any aspect of the year and its legacy, but suggested topics that might be addressed include:

i) The origins of the decision to execute: in parliamentary discussions or outside parliament
ii) The relationship between execution and the civil war
iii) Discussion of whether the decision to execute King Charles was justified
iv) The connection between tyrannicide and the republican political movements or theory of the 1640s
v) The demands of the New Model Army, its relationship to parliament, and its part in the decision to execute
vi) The discussion of tyrannicide in Royalists or Parliamentarian literature after 1649
vii) The impact of the execution on movements such as the Levellers or Diggers, or on the religious movements of the time; their discussion of the execution, or its impact on their fortunes after 1649

For further information or to send abstracts of papers (up to 1,000 words) until 31 November 2008 contact the organisers at [mailto]conference2009@londonsocialisthistorians.org[/mailto]. The conference page is [url]http://www.londonsocialisthistorians.org/conference/2009[/url].

(Please note: an earlier draft of this call for papers was circulated earlier with an erroneous email address. We apologise for this.)

John G Walker
London Socialist Historians Group