Henry Marten

Henry Marten

Henry Marten, the son of a lawyer, was born in Oxford in 1602. Educated at Oxford University he was elected to the House of Commons where he represented Berkshire. A Puritan, he was a strong opponent of Charles I. During the Civil War Martin served as a commander in the Parliamentary army.

Marten was a staunch republican and in 1643 he advocated the destruction of the royal family. As a result he was expelled from the House of Commons for three years.

After the overthrow of the monarchy Marten served on the High Court of Justice and signed the king's death warrant in 1649. During the Commonwealth Marten was increasingly critical of Oliver Cromwell and opposed the dissolution of the House of Commons. Marten, who argued that Cromwell was undermining the establishment of a republic, was forced into retirement in 1653.

On 3rd September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died. Parliament and the leaders of the army now began arguing amongst themselves about how England should be ruled. General George Monck, the officer in charge of the English army based in Scotland, decided to take action, and in 1660 he marched his army to London.

When Monck arrived he reinstated the House of Lords and the Parliament of 1640. Royalists were now in control of Parliament. Monk now contacted Charles II, who was living in Holland. Charles agreed that if he was made king he would pardon all members of the parliamentary army and would continue with the Commonwealth's policy of religious toleration. Charles also accepted that he would share power with Parliament and would not rule as an 'absolute' monarch as his father had tried to do in the 1630s.

This information was passed to Parliament and it was eventually agreed to abolish the Commonwealth and bring back the monarchy. In August 1660, Charles II and Parliament agreed to pass the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. This resulted in the granting of a free pardon to anyone who had supported the Commonwealth government. However, the king retained the right to punish those people who had participated in the trial and execution of Charles I.

A special court was appointed and in October 1660 those Regicides who were still alive and living in Britain were brought to trial. Ten were found guilty and were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Marten was also found guilty and was imprisoned in Chepstow Castle where he died on 9th September 1680.

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