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By John Worthen



Henry Marten - soldier, member of parliament, organiser of the trial of Charles I and signatory of the King's death warrant - is today a neglected figure of the seventeenth-century. Yet at the fulcrum of English history during the turbulent years of the civil war, the protectorate and the restoration, his life is both extraordinary and emblematic. Imprisoned in the Tower of London and tried at the Old Bailey, Marten is found guilty of High Treason only to be held captive for years on the equivalent of death row. It was only many years later that his letters to his mistress Mary Ward were stolen and published in an attempt to destroy his reputation. Witty, clever, loving, sardonic and never despairing, the letters offer a rare and extraordinary insight into the everyday life of a man in the Tower of London awaiting a sentence of death. The attempt to expose him as immoral instead revealed a tender and brave man. In John Worthen's revelatory biography, Marten emerges from the shadows as a brilliantly clever, lively-minded man, free of fundamentalist zeal so common in many of his republican contemporaries. Marten never abandoned his beliefs in equality, in a representative parliament under a constitution (which he had helped to write) without a monarch or a House of Lords and in that way be seen as a very modern man.

ISBN: 9781913368357


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