“I Die, I Take It, For Maintaining the Fifth Commandment”: Patriarchy and the Last Dying Speeches of Royalists and Regicides

Sara Siona Régnier-McKellar

Abstract


In January 1649, King Charles I was tried and found guilty of high treason and condemned to be “put to death, by the severing of his Head from his Body.” At ten in the morning on the day of his execution he was accompanied to the scaffold by a regiment on foot, “colours flying, drums beating.” After having addressed the crowd in an uncharacteristically eloquent manner the King lifted his eyes and hands towards the sky, placed his head on the executioner’s block and gave the sign that he was ready to die. With one swift blow the executioner decapitated the King and held up his head for the crowd to see. Philip Henry, then a boy of seventeen, remembered that there came from the crowd “such a groan as I never heard before, and desire I may never hear again.”

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