The Works of King Charles the Martyr [With Eikon Basilike]


The large folio Second Edition of 1687.


[Eikon Basilike: Translated from the Greek as “The Royal Portrait” or “Portrait of the King”].

Basilika. The Works of King Charles the Martyr: With a Collection of Declarations, Treaties, and other Papers concerning the Differences betwixt His said Majesty and His Two Houses of Parliament. With the History of His Life; as also of His Tryal and Martyrdome. The Second Edition. Printed for Ric. Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in St Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCLXXXVII [1687]. Large folio (37 x c.25 cm), x, 724 pp. (720+4), double-Plate Frontispiece, at left the Royal Arms, at right engraving with central oval portrait of Charles I mounted and held by cherubs on a plinth in a Doric columned classical architectural space by the Dutch engraver A. Hertochs (Hertocks), with English Crowns and Bishop’s Mitres in metopes between the frieze triglyphs below an entablature. Printed with notes in wide margins, woodcut floriated initials opening each section, pp. 204 and 207 listing persons sitting in judgment on the life of Charles I printed in black and red.

Three further double-page Plates: The Parable of Jotham, double-page b/w Plate between pp. 240-241, after the image by Philip Feuitiers (or variously Fruytus, Fruytiers, Fruijtiers or Fruitiers, 1610-1666, of Antwerp, who has recently become recognised as a Flemish painter, miniaturist, altarpiece artist, illuminator and portraitist) engraved by Jacob Neefs of Antwerp (1610-after 1660), a Flemish etcher, engraver and publisher. The 1662 double-page Plate engraved by A. Hertochs of Antwerp after the image by Philip Fruytus depicting Charles I praying, holding a crown of thorns with the ship of state in the background tossed in a tumultuous sea—this Plate is bound between pp. 248-249, before Declarations and Papers [of Charles] concerning the “Differences Betwixt [him] and His Fifth Parliament”, though the Plate, dated 1662, carries an instruction to the Binder (referring to the 1662 First Edition) that it be placed at p. 646, before the Eikon Basilika; and “The Church Catholick: The goodly Cedar of Apostolik & Catholick Episcopacy compared with the modern Shoots & Slips of divided Novelties in the Church”, b/w Plate between pp. 436-437. Rebound, possibly early 20th century or earlier, in dark green buckram, red morocco gilt-ruled title label on spine (“Works of Charles I”). Madan 68, Wing C2076.

Condition: Overall very good for age, binding tight, but with light variable toning to pages (minor to acceptable) and heavier to page edges; small paper loss (10 x 5 mm) not affecting text or images l.l. of double-page frontispiece Plate; intermittent old, small holes not affecting text; occasional minor spotting; some pages with faint water stains and damp marks, mostly at t.c. or l.c.; short tear at inner edge p. 292, and at outer edge pp. 161-162, not affecting text; very small paper loss l.r. p. 189 and u.l. p. 444 not affecting text and occasional paper imperfections.

The major immediate consequences of the English Civil War which began in 1642 were the trial, sentencing and beheading of the 48-year-old King Charles I on 30 January 1649; the exile of his son (who later became Charles II); and the replacement of the English monarchy by the Commonwealth (1649-1653) and then the Protectorate (1653-1659) under Oliver Cromwell. Only days after the execution of Charles I in 1649, a detailed justification of, and apologia for, Charles’s policies and role in the Civil War appeared in print titled Eikon Basilike. It enjoyed immediate success, going through nearly 40 editions in English in the following 12 months. Its pathos made it highly effective as Royalist propaganda, which led many to write furious rejoinders, including the poet John Milton (Eikonoklastes). The Eikon Basilike appeared in substantial editions and also many concealable pocket-size editions, and was translated into Latin, French, German, Dutch and Danish for Continental distribution. Because Parliament suppressed the text, and its printing and sale were therefore illegal, most early editions gave scant details (or none) on the title page about their production. Eikon Basilike was supposedly the King’s spiritual autobiography written just before his execution, but its actual authorship was hotly contested until the end of the 17th century, when John Gauden, Restoration Bishop of Exeter, became generally accepted as the compiler of its text, probably using some of the King’s genuine writings. The title Eikon Basilike was suggested by Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), a Church of England cleric, one of the English language’s great prose writers, who was Chaplain in Ordinary to Charles I. The King reputedly bequeathed his watch and some jewels to Taylor, whose second wife was said to be a natural daughter of Charles I.

Eikon Basilike was significant through its fame and wide popularity in weakening Cromwellian legitimacy. Eikon is printed at pp. 647-720 in the 1687 Second Edition of The Works of King Charles the Martyr, where ink brackets, probably added by the book’s original owner, appear on p. 664 (IX. Upon the lifting and raising Armies against the King), on pp. 701-703 (XXII. Upon His Majesties leaving Oxford, and going to the Scots) and on p. 718, (XXVIII, “Meditations upon Death”: “My chiefest comfort in Death consists in My Peace, which, I trust, is made with God”).

In 1662 the folio First Edition of The Works of King Charles the Martyr appeared. It was edited by the English antiquary William Fulman (1632-1688), who intended to prefix the book with a Life of Charles I but was frustrated by succumbing to smallpox. Richard Royston, bookseller to Charles I and later Charles II and James II, wishing to include the Life in the 1662 edition, then engaged Richard Perrinchiefe (c.1620-1673) who, though using Fulman’s notes, claimed all of the credit. Perrinchiefe also made use of some materials by the royalist politician Silas Titus (1623-1704) who had been involved in the attempted escape of Charles I from Carisbrooke Castle. The diarist Samuel Pepys, who was Secretary to the Navy, “had a great mind” to buy the newly published 1662 First Edition as a gift for his Patron, the Earl of Sandwich, but wrote “I think it will be best to save the money”. Richard Royston himself was not above a little chicanery. He persuaded Charles II of his fidelity and loyalty to the Crown and of the considerable losses he had suffered in the surreptitious and dangerous printing over many years of Eikon and Royalist pamphlets. Charles II in 1660 granted him the monopoly of printing the Works of Charles I. As the privileged royal bookseller, Royston arranged the seizure of another publisher’s books “printed without licence”, but then “purchased the stock as waste paper from the royal kitchen, bound the copies, and sold them. For this he was reprimanded by the Privy Council”. Richard Royston’s daughter Mary married Ric. Chiswell, the publisher of the 1687 Second Edition of The Works of King Charles the Martyr.

“The Life of Charles I”, the highly sympathetic biography completed by the royalist churchman Dr Richard Perrinchiefe, is printed at the beginning of this 1687 Second Edition of The Works of King Charles the Martyr: With a Collection of Declarations, Treaties, and other Papers, on pp. 1-74. Between pp. 75 and 646, the Second Edition collects many papers on Church government, the King’s “Messages for Peace” and his Letters and Speeches, the King’s Speeches and Trial, Declarations and Treaties, A Declaration concerning the Cessation in Ireland, The Treaty at Uxbridge, Messages, Propositions, and Treaties for Peace, etc. Perrinchiefe, who wrote vehemently against those who doubted Charles I as the author of Eikon, also published works dealing with tyranny and “modern usurpers”, and works opposing tolerance of any material change to the established Church of England. He became Prebendary of London in 1667 and was buried in 1673 in Westminster Abbey.