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‘SO HARD A TEXT’? IMAGES OF CHARLES I, 1612–1700

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 2000


KEVIN SHARPE
Affiliation:
University of Southampton

Abstract

Historians have tended to discuss the image (in the singular) of the monarch in early modern England. In the case of Charles I, the Eikon basilike, literally ‘the royal image’, presented a picture of the king that claimed to be stable and authoritative. This article argues rather that royal images were the product of multiple influences, and shifted through changing circumstances, rendering all images unstable and open to differing interpretations. Charles, as well as being the son of the Rex Pacificus, inherited the martial expectations associated with the image of his brother; and images of the prince and his early years as king in the 1620s continued alongside the changed representations of personal rule. Though the Eikon for a time seemed to fix Charles's image, its very authority meant that it was, after 1660, even after 1688, appropriated by all – whigs and tories as well as Jacobites. Most importantly, through the 30 January sermons, Charles's memory became a text which all parties needed and sought to claim, a text both shared and contested in the political culture.


Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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‘SO HARD A TEXT’? IMAGES OF CHARLES I, 1612–1700
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