Title: Eikon Basilike [in Greek]. The Pourtraicture...
Publisher: London, Printed By R. Norton for Richard Royston, Bookseller to His Most Sacred Majesty
Publication Date: 1681
Book Condition: Good
, 256 printed pages. Eikon Basilike printed in Greek on title page. Frontispiece engraving of King Charles 1 at prayer, and at page 220 a portrait of King Charles ii, then The Prince of Wales. A3 is a dedication leaf to King Charles ii by Richard Royston. The printed page number for page 186 has been misprinted and reads 860. William Lloyd's 1748 ownership signature on title page and that of his father, perhaps, doodled over. Some mild darkening to extreme margins of pages. 18.5 x 12 cm. contemporary full calf. Spine in compartments, ruled in gilt and with gilt date of publication at the foot. Both boards slightly bowed. Label for title missing. Lower corner, upper hinges and top of spine worn away in small part. Covers with blind ruled borders, deeply patinated. While Charles I, the monarch executed by parliament in 1648/9, has traditionally been identified as the author of Eikon Basilike, this has been disputed since John Gauden, Bishop of Worcester, emerged as a probable ghostwriter in the 1690s. It is now thought to have been a collaboration between Gauden and the king. The book reviews the course of the civil wars from the calling of the Long Parliament in 1640 to Charles's imprisonment at Carisbrooke Castle in 1647, and defends the king's policies. As well as being a political memoir it also uses the language of spiritual autobiography, presenting Charles as the defender of both Church and State. 'Eikon Basilike' means 'portrait of the king'. The portrayal of Charles in the text as a moderate, peace-loving ruler transformed opinion of his execution so that it came to be viewed by many as an act of martyrdom. The frontispiece of the book, designed by William Marshall, helped establish this image of Charles as a saint and martyr: the king grasps a crown of thorns whilst his royal crown lies at his feet, discarded in favour of the heavenly crown of glory upon which he fixes his gaze. Despite the government's attempts to suppress the words of the king they had just executed, Eikon Basilike became an immediate best-seller, and was to become one of the most influential books of the seventeenth century. The first edition was in print on the day of Charles's execution, and in 1649 alone thirty-five editions were published in England, with a further twenty-five issued elsewhere in Europe. Its popularity and its scriptural qualities, along with its anticipation of the return of the Stuart monarchy in Charles's advice to his son, helped to bring about support for the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. The penultimate chapter of Eikon Basilike is addressed from Charles I to the Prince of Wales, the future Charles II. He is exhorted to consider the welfare of his subjects; to be steadfast in his religion; not to dislike Parliament, despite its current 'insolencies'; and to defer to his mother, Henrietta Maria. The chapter concludes: 'if God will have disloyalty perfected by My destruction; let My memory ever, with My name, live in you…. Farewell, till We meet, if not on Earth, yet in Heaven.' The importance of Eikon Basilike and its imagery in heralding the Restoration is uncontested. ESTC : English Short Title Catalogue Citation Number ESTC R204383. Madan : Madan, F.F., 1950. A New bibliography of the Eikon Basilike of King Charles the First …, London Madan 66. Bookseller Inventory # 4244