January 30th – On this day in 1649, having bid a heartbreaking goodbye to his young children, Charles I was executed for treason outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall (see also January 28th blog posting here).
It was a freezing cold day, so he put on an extra shirt, that no-one might see him shiver, and think him scared (“the season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers may imagine proceeds from fear [and] I would have no such imputation”).
Eventually, after what must have been a harrowing wait, at 2pm, he delivered an almost inaudible address to the crowd, and at the end proclaimed “I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world”. He then made a silent prayer, laid his head upon the block, and had it stricken from his body. Whereupon, according to an eye-witness account, a “great groan” went up from those watching. The usually ubiquitous John Evelyn was pointedly not among them, writing in his diary: “The Villanie of the Rebells proceeding now so far as to Trie, Condemne, & Murder our excellent King … struck me with such horror that I kept the day of his Martyrdom a fast, & would not be present, at that execrable wickednesse … ”.
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