Tim Blanning’s magnificent The Pursuit Of Glory: Europe 1648 – 1815 (Penguin, 2008) isn’t often far from my side. I’ve just been re-reading the account of the execution of Charles I.
One thing that gets me on-side with Charles right away is that one of his first acts on being informed that Parliament had voted (by a majority of one, 361-360) was to summon a servant to fetch him David Hume’s History of England. Anyone who turns to Hume in a time of crisis can’t be all bad.
I also like that he thoroughly outwitted the Parliamentary dullards at his trial. When the charges against him were read out, his only response was to “laugh derisively”.
He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene.
When the axe fell, there rose from the assembled crowd “such a groan as I never heard before, and I desire I may never hear again”, one observer wrote.
There’s an interesting fact about Charles’ execution that I – for obscure reasons of my own – have shuffled into the form of a lateral-thinking puzzle for you to enjoy. When he walked to the block on January 30, 1649, Charles was wearing two shirts. Why?