The Execution of Charles I
>> note 1
Tuesday, 30 January 1649.
About ten in the morning the King was brought
from St. James's walking on foot through
the Park, with a regiment of foot part before
and part behind him, with colors flying,
drums beating, his private guard of partizans
>> note 2 with
some of his gentlemen before and some behind
bareheaded, Dr. Juxon next behind him,
and Colonel Thomlinson (who had the charge
of him) talking with the King bareheaded,
from the Park up the stairs into the gallery
[in Whitehall], and so into the cabinet
chamber where he used to lie, where he
continued his devotion, refusing to dine
(having before taken the Sacrament), only
about an hour before he came forth he drank
a glass of claret wine and ate a piece
of bread about twelve at noon.
From thence he was accompanied by Dr. Juxon,
Colonel Thomlinson, and other officers formerly
appointed to attend him, and the private
guard of partizans and musketeers on each
side, through the Banqueting House, adjoining
to which the Scaffold was erected between
Whitehall Gate and the gate leading into
the gallery from St. James's.
The Scaffold was hung round with black and
the floor covered with black, and the Ax
and Block laid in the middle of the Scaffold.
There were divers companies of foot and troops
of horse placed on the one side of the Scaffold
towards King Street and on the other side
towards Charing Cross, and the multitudes
of people that came to be spectators [were]
The King being come upon the Scaffold looked
very earnestly on the Block and asked Colonel
Hacker if there were no higher, and then
spake thus, directing his speech chiefly
to Colonel Thomlinson.
King: I shall be very little heard
of anybody here, I shall therefore speak
a word unto you here. Indeed I could hold
my peace very well, if I did not think that
holding my peace would make some men think
that I did submit to the guilt as well as
to the punishment. But I think it is my duty
to God first, and to my country, for to clear
myself both as an honest man, a good king,
and a good Christian.
I shall begin first with my innocency. In
truth, I think it not very needful for me
to insist long upon this, for all the world
knows that I never did begin a war with the
two houses of Parliament. And I call God
to witness — to whom I must shortly
make an account — that I never did
intend for to encroach upon their privileges.
They began upon me: it is the Militia they
began upon. They confessed that the Militia
was mine, but they thought it fit to have
it from me. And to be short, if anybody will
look to the dates of commissions — of
their commissions and mine — and likewise
to the declarations, will see clearly that
they began these enormous troubles, not I.
So that as [to] the guilt of these enormous
crimes that are laid against me, I hope in
God that God will clear me of it. I will
not; I'm in charity. God forbid that
I should lay it upon the two Houses of Parliament.
There is no necessity of [doing so] either.
I hope they are free of this guilt, for I
do believe that ill instruments
>> note 3 between
them and me have been the chief cause of all this bloodshed, so that by way
of speaking, s I find myself clear of all this bloodshed, so that by way
of speaking, as I find myself clear of this, I hope and pray God that they
may too. Yet for all this, God forbid that I should be so ill a Christian
as not to say that God's judgments are just upon me. Many times he does
pay justice by an unjust sentence; that is ordinary. I will only say this,
that an unjust sentence
>> note 4 that
I suffered for to take effect, is punished now by an unjust sentence upon
me. that is, so far as I have said, to show you that I am an innocent man.
Now for to show you that I am a good Christian.
I hope there is (pointing to Dr. Juxon)
a good man that will bear me witness that
I have forgiven all the world and even those
in particular that have been the chief causers
of my death. Who they are, God knows; I do
not desire to know. I pray God forgive them.
But this is not all — my charity must
go further. I wish that they may repent,
for indeed they have committed a great sin
in that particular. I pray God with St. Stephen
that this be not laid to their charge — nay
not only so, but that they may take the right
way to the peace of the kingdom, for my charity
commands me not only to forgive particular
men, but my charity commands me to endeavor
to the last gasp the peace of the kingdom.
So, sirs, I do wish with all my soul, and
I do hope there is some here (turning
to some gentlemen that wrote) will carry
it further, that they may endeavor the peace
of the kingdom.
Now, sirs, I must show you both how you
are out of the way and [I] will put you in
the way. First you are out of the way, for
certainly all the way you have ever had yet — as
I could find by anything — is in the
way of conquest. Certainly this is an ill
way. For conquest, sirs, in my opinion is
never just, except there be a good just cause,
either for matter of wrong or just title.
And then if you go beyond it, the first quarrel
that you have to it, that makes it unjust
at the end that was just at the first. But
if it be only a matter of conquest, then
it is a great robbery; as a pirate said to
Alexander the Great that he was a great robber,
he [the pirate] was but a petty robber. And
so, sirs, I do think the way that you are
in is much out of the way. Now, sirs, for
to put you in the way. Believe it, you will
never do right, nor God will never prosper
you, until you give God His due, the King
his due — that is, my successors — and
the people their due. I am as much for them
as any of you. You must give God his due
by regulating rightly His Church (according
to His Scripture) which is now out of order.
For to set you in a way particularly, now
I cannot; but only this: a national synod
freely called, freely debating among themselves,
must settle this, when that every opinion
is freely and clearly heard. For the King,
indeed I will not — (then turning
to a gentleman that touched the Ax he said, "Hurt
not the Ax that may hurt me," meaning
if he did blunt the edge) — for
the King, the laws of the land will clearly
instruct you in that. Therefore, because
it concerns my own particular, I only give
you a touch of it. For the people — and
truly I desire their liberty and freedom
as much as anybody whomsoever — but
I must tell you that their liberty and their
freedom consists in having of government
those laws by which their life and their
goods may be most their own. It is not for
having a share in government, sirs; that
is nothing pertaining to them. A subject
and a sovereign are clean different things.
And therefore until they do that — I
mean, that you do put the people in that
liberty as I say — certainly they will
never enjoy themselves. Sirs, it was for
this that now I am come here. If I would
have given way to an arbitrary way for to
have all laws changed according to the power
of the sword, I need not have come here.
And therefore I tell you — and I pray
God it be not laid to your charge — that
I am the martyr of the people.
In truth, sirs, I shall not hold you much
longer, for I will only say this to you,
that in truth I could have desired some little
time longer because that I would have put
this that I have said in a little more order
and a little better digested than I have
done. And therefore I hope you will excuse
me. I have delivered my conscience. I pray
God that you do take those courses that are
best for the good of the kingdom and your
Dr. Juxon: Will Your Majesty, though
it may be very well known Your Majesty's
affections to religion, yet it may be expected
that you should say somewhat for the world's
King: I thank you very heartily,
my lord, for that I had almost forgotten
it. In truth, sirs, my conscience in religion,
I think is very well known to all the world.
And therefore I declare before you all that
I die a Christian according to the profession
of the Church of England as I found it left
me by my father. And this honest man (pointing
to Dr. Juxon) I think will witness it.
Then turning to the officers, the King
said: Sirs, excuse me for this same.
I have a good cause, and I have a gracious
God. I will say no more.
Then turning to Colonel Hacker, he said:
Take care they do not put me to pain. And,
sir, this, and it please you —
But then a gentleman coming near the
Ax, the King said: Take heed of the
Ax, pray take heed of the Ax!
Then the King speaking to the Executioner
said: I shall say but very short prayers,
and when I thrust out my hands . . .
Then the King called to Dr. Juxon for his
nightcap, and having put it on, he said to
the Executioner, "Does my hair trouble
you?" who desired him to put it all
under his cap, which the King did accordingly
by help of the Executioner and the Bishop.
Then the King turning to Dr. Juxon said:
I have a good cause, and a gracious God on
Dr. Juxon: There is but one stage
more. This stage is turbulent and troublesome.
It is a short one. But you may consider it
will soon carry you a very great way — it
will carry you from Earth to Heaven, and
there you shall find a great deal of cordial
joy and comfort.
King: I go from a corruptible to
an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance
can be, no disturbance in the world.
Dr. Juxon: You are exchanged from
a temporal to an eternal crown — a
The King then said to the Executioner, "Is
my hair well?" Then the King took off
his cloak and his George,
>> note 5 giving
his George to Dr. Juxon, saying, "Remember" (it
is thought for to give it to the Prince).
The King put off his doublet, and being
in his waistcoat put his cloak on again,
then looking upon the Block said to the
Executioner, "You must set it fast."
Executioner: It is fast, sir.
The King: It might have been a little
Executioner: It can be no higher,
The King: When I put out my hands
this way (stretching them out), then . . .
After that, having said two or three words
(as he stood) to himself with hands and eyes
lifted up, immediately stooping down laid
his neck upon the Block, and then the Executioner
again putting his hair under his cap, the
King said (thinking he had been going to
strike), "Stay for the sign!"
Executioner: Yes I will, and it please
And after a very little pause, the King
stretching forth his hands, the Executioner
at one blow severed his head from his body.
Then when the King's head was cut off,
the Executioner held it up and showed it
to the spectators.
And his body was put in a coffin covered
with black velvet for that purpose, and conveyed
into his lodgings there. And from thence
it was carried to his house at St. James's,
where his body was put in a coffin of lead
laid there to be seen by the people.