Saturday, April 17, 2010

Charles I. Etching by A.H. Payne after the painting by Van Dyk. London: J.Haggen, [n.d.]

This most unfortunate monarch was the second son of James I of England (James VI of Scotland), and grandson of the beheaded Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1603, when his father rode off with the rest of his family to claim the English throne, Charles was left behind in Scotland. He had a pronounced stammer and was physically weak, short of stature, quiet, self-contained and serious-minded. His elder brother, Henry, was all that Charles was not: handsome, popular, athletic, outgoing, and quick-witted. When Charles was twelve, Henry died of a fever. Charles, always concerned with duty, began a self-imposed regimen to overcome his disabilities. He took up running to strengthen his legs, marksmanship for co-ordination, and speech-training to overcome his stammer.

When he became Prince of Wales at sixteen, he was required to spend more time at court. Temperate in his habits, he abhorred all debauchery, and found his father’s court stridently boorish where frequent drunkenness, food fights, rough, lewd joking, and vulgarity were the norm. Where his older brother, Henry, had balanced deflection with light participation, Charles was exhausted and angered in this atmosphere.

LC27 1.1

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