Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I” as Want to Read:
Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  940 ratings  ·  141 reviews
On August 18, 1648, with no relief from the siege in sight, the royalist garrison holding Colchester Castle surrendered and Oliver Cromwell’s army firmly ended the rule of Charles I of England. To send a clear message to the fallen monarch, the rebels executed four of the senior officers captured at the castle. Yet still, the king refused to accept he had lost the war. As ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Bloomsbury Press (first published September 11th 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Killers of the King, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Killers of the King

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  940 ratings  ·  141 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I
Sean Barrs
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Charles persisted with his heartening thought: “I go from a corruptible crown to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world”


Thus spoke Charles I just moments before his execution; it’s almost like he recognised the limits of kingship, and that he wasn’t the perfect monarch. Perhaps he understood why people revolted against him, but he was still King: he was going to do things his way. His trial is reported meticulously here, for all his supposed crimes he
On the chilled winter day of January 30th 1649, biting winds blowing off the frozen Thames would have easily sliced through the two shirts beneath his doublet, as Charles I ascended the scaffold erected at Whitehall to offer his final speech to whomever in the crowd could hear it and, to those who sealed his impending fate - his 'king-killers:' "I have forgiven all the world and even those in particular that have been the chief causes of my death...God forgive them," evoking some say, purposeful ...more
There truly were no worse crimes in England’s monarchial history than treason and/or the threat of regicide; especially when this is done in the name of the government and the people. Seventeenth-century England suffered from civil wars, the trial and execution of King Charles I, and the ‘rule’ under Oliver Cromwell as a result of these behaviors. Who were the men single-handedly responsible for this upheaval? What strategies did they take? Charles Spencer portraits the men and events in, “Kille ...more
Andrea Zuvich
A few months ago, I found out about this upcoming release from Charles Spencer. Naturally, given its subject matter, I was excited. I was jumping up and down when I received an advanced copy of “Killers of the King - the Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I”. I’ll be frank, this was the first history book I’ve read by Spencer, even though he has written several best-selling history books, many of which relate to the 17th-century, including a biography of Rupert of the Rhine.

I found this book to be
A very readable and informative book on the aftermath of the execution of King Charles I. The aftermath being in essence the hunt for the people who signed the death warrant, attended court, imprisoned or indeed were believed to have swung the axe (2 men both masked).

The first part of Charles Spencer's account has some background to the sitting king and the events of the English Civil War that lead to his military defeat, capture and imprisonment. Building from this is where many of the regicide
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Spencer (brother of the late Lady Diana Spencer) crafts an historical, almost detective in places, tale about how Charles II sought out, hunted down and killed the remaining regicides who were responsible for the execution of his Father - Charles 1st, during the English Civil War of the 1640's. An impressive book in the sense of the amount of work needed to uncover the fates of the remaining regicides eleven years after Charles 1st was beheaded in 1649, after the Restoration and ascensio ...more
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
To change any portrait of Charles I of England to a saint’s image, simply add a halo. From the removal of centuries it is impossible for anyone in know to separate that portrait from the tragic ending. Charles I always seems about to weep or shake his head in disappointment whereas any portrait of his eldest son, Charles II, always seems about to knock some women over and tup her.

Killers of the King isn’t about Charles I or II, though both men hover over the narra
Eric Ruark
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Excuse me while I gush... I LOVED this book. It touched me on a personal and visceral level that I’m sure only a handful of readers will ever experience. And please excuse this review if it seems more like a blog than a book review.

Many years ago when the earth was young, I received my undergraduate degree in 17th Century British Literature from Washington College, in Chestertown, Maryland. I studied under Dr. Nancy Tatum, a brilliant mind since lost to time and Alzheimer’s. A new edition of Sa
Heidi Murphy
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pre-disposed to love this book as it covers the era I studied in university, this is a beautifully written account of, what is, a dramatic and complex period, meticulously researched with some superb and well-chosen quotes from the various sources. The Civil War, Commonwealth and Restoration eras are complex, and the various factions still polarise opinion today (Cromwell is still loathed and detested by many in Ireland) but Spencer manages to make even this most complicated of periods, an ...more
Emily Ross
This is not a book you can read without knowing about the era and the background of the period. It was incredibly dense and detailed, but not about the details that really mattered. In reading this, I still don't know why this group of men killed Charles I, anything about the Civil Wars or anything about the Restoration.

However, it did give an encyclopaedic knowledge of Cromwell and a few others of the regicides.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Well written and informative on a topic I know very little about.
Jacob Stelling
An interesting account of the events leading up to and after the execution of the Stuart king, Charles I. The vast majority of this book is set following the Restoration of Charles II, and does read like a cat and mouse across Europe of the various regicides who are wanted for treason.

On the whole I found this book to be quite dull - despite being on an interesting topic and being well-written - hence the 3-star rating. This was because the book felt too long and I got bored due to the depth of
Mar 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Not quite as interesting as I'd hoped, this book delivers on its promise, but little more. Essentially I learned everything about the lives of the men who lopped off the king's head and how they were tricked or captured. This is less interesting than I'd hoped for as the men basically went into hiding, then got caught. Each chapter detailed rather similar ends for all the men.

The highlight of the book occurred early on. Charles I was fearful that his execution would be as inept as Mary Queen of
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this book quite interesting. Some history books can be quite dry and boring when trying to just give straight facts. This book gives the story of Charles I and really more his executioners without just straight dates and places. It tells it in a fashion that makes you more interested in the story than many history books I have read. Top job done by Charles Spencer. I will have to look for another of his books.

**I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a revie
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
If you just want the story of what happened to Charles I, and especially to the men who signed his death warrant, it's all here.

My ARC courtesy of Bloomsbury USA/NetGalley - much thanks!
Dan Rufus
Dec 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after reading the excellent 'To Catch a King' also by Charles Spencer. The former book was brilliantly written, giving a nice balance of detail, story and facts around the escape of Charles II from the clutches of Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army.

Upon starting to read this book, I immediately noticed that it was extremely 'detail heavy' with an excessive focus on the complexed politics around the execution of Charles I and the hunt for the Regicides involved.

It was very
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read this book you will become very familiar with the word regicide. For this is the tale of how Charles I, through his blundering and his role in three civil wars, would literally lose his head to Cromwell and henchmen of his ilk. But the monarchy would eventually be restored and Charles II, in a determined and disciplined way, went after those regicides, both far an near, with every intention of treating them as they had treated his father--and worse.

I enjoyed this book on several level
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Having recently read a book on the English Civil Wars, I found Charles Spencer's Killers of the King rather easy to follow and refreshingly focused. Many popular histories are prone to meandering, with author's intended direction becoming unclear amidst an excess of background information. That certainly isn't the case with Spencer's account, which rarely departs from its premise of following the trials and tribulations of the men who consented to the execution of King Charles I. Relatively litt ...more
Christina Rothfusz
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
A fascinating read.

The book follows the execution of Charles I and the men who signed the deceleration and attended the hearings. Each of the Regicides are followed as they deal with the return of Charles's son after the death of Oliver Cromwell.

These men were hunter mercilessly and their executions extremely brutal. The book follows only the decisions to execute the King and does not focus much on the events leading up to he's death and the start of the Civil War - I look forward to reading up
Angus McKeogh
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Fairly interesting read about the Parliament figures who created the New Model Army and ousted the royals in England. How that occurred and what happened to them. Of course, it’s essentially one violent ultra religious bully faction removing a different violent religious bully faction, who believes they were divinely appointed by god (never mind their history of killing and war to conquer), from power. Violent bully factions with ineffable views of “higher powers” and their role in this world su ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A solid examination of the fates of the regicides of the English Civil War, although the second half is far stronger than the first half. While the second half races along following some interesting stories, the first half doesn't seem to know how broad or how deep to delve into the details surrounding the civil war. The end result is a feeling that there is both too much information and too little...a feeling that doesn't smooth out until it reaches the Restoration. ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Riveting—I will ponder it long and spend the next few weeks ready to pounce upon anyone willing to discuss it 😁
Viviane Crystal
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
King Charles I of England has become a tyrant; but this is not the same England that tolerated such mistreatment or such financial extravagance that would pauperize the government coffers. This is the story of how Parliament plans and carries out demise of Charles I. What is fascinating about the pre-trial and trial is that Spencer presents a King who seems innocent (Not!) while Parliament is portrayed as those who willingly or through coercion participate in the accusations of the King who dare ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-world
I should begin by saying that I come to bury Charles I, not to praise him. I think it would be rather difficult to portray the executed King as some sort of enlightened monarch whose reign was just a bowl of cherries in jolly old England. It seems pretty evident that he abused his position and continued to be oblivious to the increasing danger the Parliamentarian forces posed to his rule.

In addition, the barbaric cruelty with which Charles I's executioners were treated during the English Restor
Justin Daniel
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Have you ever gotten 100 pages into a book and realized that you hate it, but since you’re so far in, you have to finish?

That was this book in a nutshell for me. I am no anglophile, and the title of the book is so much more appealing that the contents.

Let me try to see if I can draw some conclusions about this book:

England in the early 1600’s was a complex machine. By the 1640’s, there was a parliament but it acted as an advisory council and had little real power. The English have always had spa
The book begins with a dry and hard to follow narrative. Once the fates of the "Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I" are finally told, the book is better organized and more interesting.

The first part is on capture trial and execution of Charles I. Unfortunately, there is little context since the reasons for the Civil War are not given. On p. 127 the narrative abruptly switches to the aftermath of Charles I's execution. You don't really know if Charles II is even involved in justice/retribution un
Anthony Nelson
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'd probably rate this at a 3.5 if that were an option because it is lacking some context around the political situation, in particular why support for the return of the monarchy was so high, but as an account of the trial of Charles I and the eventual fate of the men who signed off on his death its tremendously detailed and a gripping narrative. It isn't for the faint of heart, however- it contains all the grisly details of what happens during a drawing and quartering that you never wanted to k ...more
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: english, non-fic, owned
Definitely more readable than a dry history textbook, but the footnotes and aim at historical accuracy take away from the smooth reading experience of a historical novel. If you're interested in the period, this is a very accessible book. But the nature of the topic does reduce it to count-down list, x regicides dead, y to go. Midway it gets a bit tedious; regicide 24/59 has his genitals chopped of and disembowled, next, regicide 25/59 has his genitals chopped and is disembowled, regicide 26/59. ...more
Carolyn Harris
Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared To Execute Charles I is an engaging and suspenseful history of the fate of Charles I’s judges and executioners. When it came to his treatment of the men responsible for his father’s death, Charles II was far from a “merry monarch.” Instead, he began his reign in 1660 with a bloody reckoning for the events of the English Civil Wars that culminated in the death of Charles I. The reprisals lasted for twenty-five years, finally ending in 1685, when Dame Alice L ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
It wasn't exactly what I expected although I appreciate that the research has been done really extensively here. It is probably a book for someone who has more knowledge and more focus on the period/ subject. It coincided with my reading of 'Love and Louis XIV' by Antonia Fraser and for some stupid reason I thought these two would have some topics in common. I was quite wrong. In fact the topics of these works couldn't be further apart (duuuh! it's what it says on the tin) and so was the style. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire
  • The Norman Conquest
  • She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
  • Black and British: A Forgotten History
  • The White King: Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr
  • A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain
  • Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I
  • Queens of the Conquest: England’s Medieval Queens
  • The Wars of the Roses
  • The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors
  • Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring
  • Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class
  • Troy
  • The Last and the First
  • The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones
  • A Novel to Die For (Deanna Devlin #2)
  • The World's Most Dangerous Geek: And More True Hacking Stories
  • Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
124 likes · 29 comments
“Some were Levellers, an egalitarian movement that flowered briefly in the late 1640s. Strikingly modern in their aims, the Levellers wanted religious tolerance, manhood suffrage (the vote for all men), regular and accountable parliaments, and popular sovereignty, whereby those in power placed the public good ahead of their self-interest. Charles’s example of kingship, insisting on privileges, assumptions and abuses rooted in the Middle Ages, was a lightning rod for their hatred.” 1 likes
More quotes…