Wednesday, 30 January 2013

"For myth changes while custom remains constant;" - the posthumous hanging of Oliver Cromwell et al.


“Jan. 30th was kept as a very solemn day of fasting and prayer. This morning the carcases of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw (which the day before had been brought from the Red Lion Inn, Holborn), were drawn upon a sledge to Tyburn, and then taken out of their coffins, and in their shrouds hanged by the neck, until the going down of the sun. They were then cut down, their heads taken off, and their bodies buried in a grave made under the gallows. The coffin in which was the body of Cromwell was a very rich thing, very full of gilded hinges and nails.” (Thomas Rugg(e), "Diurnal")

30 January 1661, 352 years ago and 8 months after the return of Charles II, the body of Oliver Cromwell was exhumed and ritually hanged on the anniversary of King Charles I's execution.






Cromwell's taken-off head, together with those of Bradshaw and Ireton, were spit on 20 foot stakes and placed above Westminster Hall until a storm brought it down in 1685. After that, the history of the head becomes somewhat confused - if it wasn't messed up in 1661 already, Samuel Pepys hands down a rumour that Cromwell's disinterred body actually belonged to one of the English monarchs - and several of them cropped up during the next centuries. One of them, supposed to be the original, was put to rest as late as 1960.

More on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cromwell%27s_head