DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Charles I of England (aged 48)
17th-century monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649)was the monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.
DEATH: Charles’s beheading was scheduled for Tuesday, 30 January 1649. Two of his children remained in England under the control of the Parliamentarians: Elizabeth and Henry. They were permitted to visit him on 29 January, and he bade them a tearful farewell. The following morning, he called for two shirts to prevent the cold weather causing any noticeable shivers that the crowd could have mistaken for fear: “the season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers may imagine proceeds from fear. I would have no such imputation.”
He walked under guard from St James’s Palace, where he had been confined, to the Palace of Whitehall, where an execution scaffold had been erected in front of the Banqueting House. Charles was separated from spectators by large ranks of soldiers, and his last speech reached only those with him on the scaffold. He blamed his fate on his failure to prevent the execution of his loyal servant Strafford: “An unjust sentence that I suffered to take effect, is punished now by an unjust sentence on me.” He declared that he had desired the liberty and freedom of the people as much as any, “but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consists in having government … It is not their having a share in the government; that is nothing appertaining unto them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things.” He continued, “I shall go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be.”
At about 2:00 p.m., Charles put his head on the block after saying a prayer and signalled the executioner when he was ready by stretching out his hands; he was then beheaded with one clean stroke. According to observer Philip Henry, a moan “as I never heard before and desire I may never hear again” rose from the assembled crowd, some of whom then dipped their handkerchiefs in the king’s blood as a memento.