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The intellectual history of a martyrdom
Jeffrey Collins

On the day of Charles I’s execution, a work destined to be known as the ‘King’s Book’, the Eikon Basilike , appeared on the London streets. As an effort at persuasive interpretation, the Eikon succeeded on an unheard-of scale. As is well known, the work purported to be a self- apologia composed by Charles during the 1640s and culminating with his final captivity. The Eikon struck the reading public with velocity and volume. In 1649 alone it went through at least thirty-nine English language printings, seven Dutch, six French, four Latin, one German and

in Revolutionising politics
Culture and conflict in England, 1620–60

Twelve friends of the late Mark Kishlansky reconsider the meanings of England’s mid-seventeenth-century revolution. Their essays range widely: from shipboard to urban conflicts; from court sermons to local finances; from debates over hairstyles to debates over the meanings of regicide; from courtrooms to pamphlet wars; and from religious rights to human rights. Taken together, these essays indicate how we might improve our understanding of a turbulent epoch in political history by approaching it more modestly and quietly than historians of recent decades have often done.

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Marvell’s Horatian Ode, print culture, and literary history
Joad Raymond

the Parliament’s. The struggle to control the king’s image in 1649–50, between Eikon Basilike and its detractors, provides a nuanced ideological context for Marvell’s imagery. Eikon Basilike, an exculpatory narrative of the king’s reign, interspersed with his prayers, written in first person and purporting to be by the king himself, was the centrepiece for the cult of Charles the martyr. The text began as notes the king had written during his imprisonment, which were turned into a narrative by John Gauden, then perhaps partly revised by the king. Long before Marvell

in Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell
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Rachel Willie

alternative narratives of their actions within the public realm. This establishes a complex discourse between self-perception, other-perception and the lack of control an individual has over the perception of their identity once they have been made public. This sense of the deprivatisation of individuals within the public realm is emphasised in the publication of Eikon Basilike (1649). This text was published soon after the execution of Charles I, and was presented to its reading public as the private reflections of a suffering king who is martyred for the sake of his

in Staging the revolution
Orchestrating English polemics in Paris and The Hague, 1645–8
Thomas Cogswell

discussions of Westminster politics became interconnected and why Nicholas was so eager to get the Gazette to publish a tract ‘for the better vindication of his Majestie in forreigne partes’. 3 We have long known how royalists issued the Latin, Dutch and French editions of Eikon Basilike and how the new republic produced Milton’s 1650 Defensio pro Populo Anglicano for a continental audience. Yet, as we are beginning to appreciate, both sides in the British conflict also used less lofty polemics to reach readers across the Channel. For example, Helmer Helmers

in Revolutionising politics
Charles Olson, Susan Howe, Redell Olsen
Will Montgomery

can be read in concretely political terms, as a querying of a social authority that is gendered as male. One example, among many, of Howe’s attempts to unpick this ‘Corruptible first figure’33 is her 1989 work A Bibliography of the King’s Book, or Eikon Basilike. The poem cites and develops Pierre Macherey’s contention that the discourse of fiction is: ‘sealed and interminably completed or endlessly beginning again, diffuse and dense, coiled about an absent center which it can neither conceal nor reveal’.34 Howe’s fundamental conceit in the poem is to re

in Contemporary Olson
Andrew McRae and John West

struggles is provided by the months and years after the execution of Charles I, as his supporters and opponents contested the legitimacy of his death. The regicides arguably thought too little about how to handle the aftermath of the execution, while the lack of censorship gave licence to the Royalists. As a result, their tenacious efforts to position him as a godly martyr – in texts such as the hugely successful Eikon Basilike (1649), probably written by John Gauden but presented as the words of Charles himself – ­unquestionably contributed to the failures of the

in Literature of the Stuart successions
John Milton on the failure of the Ulster plantation
Nicholas McDowell

treacherous guests to thir best friends and entertainers’ ( CPW , iii. 333–4). Milton was concerned that Presbyterian tyrants would invade from Scotland and Ireland to make a conquest of England (‘a Countrey better than thir own’). The real anxiety, however, was that the English would invite tyranny upon themselves, as they had done repeatedly in their history, and that God would consequently punish them as an apostate people. Here a connection can be made to Milton’s disillusionment with the rapturous popular reception in England of the Eikon Basilike (February 1649

in The plantation of Ulster
Open Access (free)
Milton, Harrington and the Williamite monarchy, 1698–1714
Justin Champion

the request to the printer John Darby) to provide a prefatory biography that shaped the way the prose was read.39 Toland’s approach to biography was both narrative and thematic. The Life made Milton’s writings relevant to the political concerns of the 1690s. Milton the apologist for regicide, the critic of the Eikon Basilike, and the putative founder of the Calves-Head club was an unambiguous and radical figure. Translations and editions of separate items from Milton’s work were one means by which radical Whig polemicists attempted to rebut de jure divino Jacobite

in Republican learning
The polity of the British episcopal churches, 1603–62
Benjamin M. Guyer

central importance. The most widely disseminated statement of Charles’s support for episcopacy was found in his posthumously published Eikon basilike, a collection of final prayers, meditations and political and ecclesiastical apologiae. With at least thirty-nine editions published domestically in 1649, and 27 Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic with a further twenty editions translated into various European languages, it is estimated that the Eikon was ‘the most successful book of the century’.72 Excerpts from Charles’s religious writings first

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66