Charles I

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Charles I (1600–1649) was king of England and Scotland from 1625 until his execution on 31 January 1649. The second son of James VI and I, he became heir apparent on the death of his older brother Henry in 1612, and had, with James's favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, effectively taken over the government before the death of his father. His strong views on the royal prerogative, his views on religion, and his attempts to raise money without parliament led towards the English Civil War in which he was defeated. Condemned in a show trial, he was executed in front of Whitehall palace.

Charles, who inspired much (though not uncritical) loyalty in his lifetime, is still a controversial figure. Some see him as a martyr[1] for the cause of the Church of England and monarchy, others as an obstinate man who did not keep his word. Lucy Hutchinson, who was otherwise vituperative about him, acknowledged his private virtues: "King Charles was temperate, chaste and serious; so that the fools and bawds, mimics and catamites of the former court, grew out of fashion; and the nobility and courtiers, who did not quite abandon their debaucheries, yet so reverenced the king as to retire into corners to practise them."[2]


  1. He was listed as such in the Church of England's calendar until 1894. He was restored in the Alternative Service Book (1980) and is retained in Common Worship (2000). Some churches are dedicated to him.
  2. Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. Everyman's Library ed p 67