The Headsmans Block

*Done for the backstage writing contest. I know it isn't the typical entry but whatever. It seemed a good idea at the time. *

Charles the first. Born 19th November, 1600. The man who was responsible for two civil wars, and thousands of deaths. But even he must face the end. Even he must feel fear. Even he must be humbled.

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1. The Headsmans Block

30th January, 1649

Charles stepped forward, into the harsh, weak sunlight. The fierce, morning chill was warded off by two thick woolen shirts, so as no observer could mistake a shiver of cold for fear. As he watched the rooftops of London in the pale light, he thought of how it had all began.

 

 

January, 1642.

Charles strode through Parliament, accompanied by the overbearing might of four hundred soldiers, all armed to the teeth.

"William Lenthall. I would request of you the locations of five members of the House of Commons. They are under arrest for treason."

"Under whose authority?," Lenthall replied stonily,

"I am the king. I do not need anyone's authority to arrest traitors. Now tell me where they are."

"I will not. Not until it has been approved of by the Parliament.

Charles slammed his fist down onto the table between them and brought his face close to Lenthalls.

"Would you defy your King, Lenthall? Your master?"

"I serve only the Parliament. No one else."

 

July, 1642.

"Portsmouth has joined our cause, Sir."

"Good," Charles replied. "That gives us more men, and a foothold in that area. How goes the fight for Kingston-upon-Hull?"

"Well Sir. The last report said they had almost driven them out."

"That will give us more arms. Send them reinforcements to protect it when they take it - else the Roundheads will simply take it back."

"Yes, Sir. Right away Sir." Candlelight flickered in the dark stone room, casting irregular shadows into deep corners. As the door slammed shut, Charles sank into a chair with his head in his hands. Too many towns and cities had allied themselves with the Roundheads. The war had barely begun and they were already losing. There was a sharp rap on the door and he stood up, assuming a strong and confident position.

"Enter."

 

September, 1642.

"Your Majesty. We just recieved word that Parliament have raised and army. They march on Nottingham as we speak."

"Well then. It appears we are ready to begin this war in earnest. Send an extra battilion of men to defend Nottingham. Tell them to pick up extra troops on the way."

"Yes Sir."

"I want reinforcements in the surrounding areas..." As he gave out orders, the occupants of the room left, one by one, until it was just him. He sighed deeply, trying to assess his situation. Nottingham would be taken. The full report had shown the Roundheads were too close, and their numbers too great. It was a lost cause. But he had sent the men anyway, because if it became common knowledge that Parliament was marching on Nottingham and he was doing nothing about it, there would be an uproar. Someone knocked on the door, and Charles did his best to look confident.

"Enter."

 

November, 1642.

"Sir. We have recieved reports that an army of some number has assembled on Turnham Green, Sir."

"How many?"

"The reports say around twenty four thousand, Sir."

"Twenty four thousand! Our force barely numbers at ten thousand. Pull back. Retreat to Oxford, we can reinforce there."

"But Sir, that will leave us open to-"

"I said pull back! I will not allow our men to be slaughtered as I stand watch! Pull. Them. Back. Now."

"Yes Sir."

As the door shut, he collapsed into his chair, silently bemoaning his predicament. Barely a year ago everything had been going as planned, but now, enemy forces surrounded him, forcing him to choose between a rock and a hard place. The retreat from Turnham did indeed open the forces up to flanking, but that destruction was only a possibility. If they attacked... At the most, his force numbered at ten thousand. And even in the unlikely circumstance that they won, the enemy force was made almost up of civilians, so any move against them would make him more unpopular. Retreating was the only real option. Someone thudded at the door. Without even removing his head from his hands, he replied,

"Enter."

 

December, 1648.

 

"It's over, Charles. You've started and lost two wars, been responsible for the deaths of thousands, and even your own side has abandoned you. We find you guilty of high treason as a tyrant, a traitor, a murderer and a public enemy. We sentence you to death by execution."

Charles bowed his head in silence.

"So be it."

 

January, 1649.

 

Charles stepped the headsmens block and spoke:

"I go from a corruptible, to an incorruptible Crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the World." He lay silently down on the headsmans block. His life flashed before his eyes: playing in his childhood, his brothers funeral, his coronation, and he thought to himself:

'I go now to God.'

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