Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 1997
After the execution of Charles I in 1649 a series of daring and desperate attempts were made on the lives of agents and ambassadors dispatched to continental Europe by the fledgling republic. This essay explores the evidence relating to these plots, and to the murders of Isaac Dorislaus and Anthony Ascham, in an attempt to show that the royalists responsible were not merely desperadoes seeking revenge for the murder of their king, but the employees and emissaries of prominent exiled courtiers. The complicity of Montrose, Cottington and Hyde in such conspiracy can be both documented and explained, in the context of the struggle for diplomatic recognition and financial assistance in the months of shock, outrage and uncertainty after the regicide. The concerns of diplomacy and high politics which lay behind these plots also helped to determine the reaction of European leaders, as it gradually became clear on whose side fortune smiled in Britain.