Last month on the blog, we marked Oak Apple Day and the Restoration of the monarchy, so this month, we thought we’d take a look at the man that, some might say, caused the downfall of the royal family in the first place. Here are some fun facts about Charles I that you might not have learned in your history lessons. Don’t forget, you can find out more about him and the rest of the Stuart Dynasty here

He had a Scottish accent

You might expect anyone with the title of King to be very well spoken with an RP accent, but actually, a great many of them had accents from all over Europe and Charles and the rest of the Stuart clan were no exception. Charles and his father, James, were born in Scotland and so naturally had a Scottish accent. It is said that he was very softly spoken and had a stammer throughout his life.

He was very sickly

Even if he hadn’t been killed for treason, it is unlikely that he would have lived a particularly long time. As a child, he was incredibly sickly and was slower to develop than his siblings. In fact, he was so ill, that his parents left him behind when they moved to London to take the English throne and many believed he wouldn’t survive infancy.

Whatever his malady, it followed him into adulthood, he continued to suffer with weak ankles until his death and he was described as being awkward and clumsy in his movements.

He was the spare who became an heir

Much like a surprising amount of monarchs, Charles was never intended to have the throne. He was the second born son of James I/ VI, but when his older brother Henry died of typhoid at the age of 18, the 12 year old Charles suddenly became heir to the throne.

He was very arty

Contemporaries say that Charles had many interests but was most passionate about the arts – he had one of the largest art collections of any monarch and would often commission additional works for his homes.

He wasn’t a popular king

We all know that his son Charles II was known as the Merry Monarch, but this Charles was not well liked by the people. Many believed him to be arrogant and to be fair, he did let his belief in his Divine Right preside over his life. He was said to forbid anyone but his wife to sit in his presence and many of his policies overlooked the vast majority of the population. Despite this, those that knew him claimed that he was kind, gentle and incredibly shy – so he was clearly a man of contradictions.

He was the first and (so far) only king to be executed for treason

We say the only king because technically Lady Jane Grey was named as monarch before her cousin had her beheaded but for those that discount Lady Jane – Charles is the first and only monarch to be executed for high treason. When the English Civil War ended with his capture, he refused to negotiate with Parliament which led to him being tried and found guilty of high treason.

The trial took place in January 1649 and the public were allowed to attend, though were behind a wooden partition to ensure everyone’s safety. Charles appeared before the appointed judges 4 times and each time, challenged the court’s authority and right to try him.

How fair the trial was can be debated – after all, Thomas Fairfax did only allow those that wanted Charles to answer for his crimes to attend parliament and it was those MPs that ordered the trial. As well as that, 135 people should have been involved in the trial, but only 68 were actually there and the House of Lords refused to get involved. Out of those 68, only 59 signed the death warrant. The execution itself was also public, taking place in front of the Banqueting House. The executioner was hooded to maintain his anonymity and to this day, his identity remains unknown. After the deed was done, Charles’ head was dropped in front of the platform, where members of the public dipped handkerchiefs in his blood and cut off locks of his hair. He was then buried at Windsor.

Want to learn more about Charles I and visit some locations associated with him? Click here.




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