Charles I waged civil wars that cost one in ten Englishmen their lives. But in 1649 parliament was hard put to find a lawyer with the skill and daring to prosecute a King who was above the law - in the end the man they briefed was theradical barrister, John Cooke.
Cooke was a plebeian, son of a poor Leicestershire farmer. His puritan conscience, political vision and love of civil liberty gave him the courage to bring the King's trial to its dramatic conclusion: the English republic. Cromwell appointed him as a reforming Chief Justice in Ireland, but in 1660 he was dragged back to the Old Bailey, tried and brutally executed.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, the internationally renowned human rights lawyer, provides a vivid new reading of the tumultuous Civil War years, exposing long-hidden truths: that the King was guilty as charged; that his execution was necessary to establish the sovereignty of Parliament; that the regicide trials were rigged and their victims should be
seen as national heroes.
John Cooke was the bravest of barristers, who risked his own life to make tyranny a crime. He originated the right to silence, the'cab rank' rule of advocacy and the duty to act free-of-charge for the poor. He conducted the first trial of a Head of State for waging war on his own people - a forerunner of the prosecutions of Pinochet, Milosevic and Saddam
Hussein, and a lasting inspiration to the modern world.