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King Charles I


King Charles I succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, James I. King Charles reigned from 1625 to 1649. His conflicts with Parliament led to the English Civil War. The royalist Cavaliers lost to the Puritan forces, called "Roundheads," and the king was imprisoned. Eventually he was tried for treason, convicted, and beheaded.

The royal family went into exile. The new Commonwealth was ruled by Oliver Cromwell. The monarchy was not restored until 1660, when Charles I's son, Charles II, returned to England at the invitation of Parliament.


Books About Charles I

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Book categories: The King, Family, Court, Fiction, Civil War, Trial & Execution, The Stuarts

The King

Charles I: A Life of Religion, War and Treason by Christopher Hibbert. Recreates the world of Charles I, his court, and family, and traces the events that led to his execution in 1649.

Charles I by Hilaire Belloc. This classic biography is a detailed study of Charles I with all his strengths and weaknesses.

Charles I: The Personal Monarch by Charles Carlton. This biography challenges the conventional view of the king.

The Personal Rule of Charles I by Kevin Sharpe. Analyzes the personality, principles, and policies of the monarch.

The Spanish Match

The Spanish Match: Prince Charles's Journey to Madrid, 1623 edited by Alexander Samson. In 1623 the future King Charles I donned a false wig and, disguised as "Mr Smith," journeyed to Madrid to secure the hand of the king of Spain's daughter. This book explores the failure of his romantic escapade and what it reveals about diplomacy, taste, art, and dress of the period, as well as its consequences for Anglo-Spanish relations.

The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match by Glyn Redworth. About one of the most bizarre episodes in British history -- the struggle of the future King Charles I to win a Spanish princess as his bride.

The King's Image

The Royal Image: Representations of Charles I edited by Thomas N. Corns. Looks at sympathetic and hostile representations of Charles I during his reign and after his execution.

Image of the King: Charles I and Charles II by Richard Ollard is about the public images and self images of these two kings.

Politics, Court, and More

The 1630s: Interdisciplinary Essays on Culture and Politics in the Caroline Era edited by Ian Atherton and Julie Sanders. Essays on the rule of Charles I. Many historians assert it was responsible for putting the country on the road to civil war.

Charles I: A Political Life by Richard Cust. This biography shows that Charles I was not unfit to be a king, but his prejudices and attitudes did much to cause Britain's Civil War.

The King's Pictures by Francis Haskell. The formation and dispersal of the collections of Charles I and his courtiers.

The King's Smuggler: Jane Whorwood, Secret Agent to Charles I by John Fox. Jane Whorwood was one of Charles I's closest confidantes. She spied and smuggled gold for the king, organized escape attempts when he was prisoner, and may have had a brief affair with him.

An Uncounselled King by Peter Donald is about Charles I and the Scottish troubles, 1637-1641.

The King's Wife & Children

A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France by Katie Whitaker. Although their marriage was arranged for political purposes, Charles I and Henrietta Maria fell in love. The king's fears for his wife's safety drove him into a civil war that cost his crown and his head.

Henrietta Maria and the English Civil Wars by Michelle A. White. Biography of the wife of King Charles I.

Henrietta Maria: Piety, Politics and Patronage edited by Erin Griffey. Essays on the queen's role as a patron of arts, her position between the French and English courts, and her sentiments at the outbreak of the English Civil War.

Politicizing Domesticity From Henrietta Maria to Milton's Eve by Laura Lunger Knoppers. About 17th-century marketing of monarchy through domestic images of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell, and Milton's Adam and Eve.

Staging the Old Faith: Queen Henrietta Maria and the Theatre of Caroline England, 1625-42 by Caroline A. Bailey. Queen Henrietta Maria's ground-breaking performances showcased her role as defender of English Catholics.

Henrietta Maria: Charles I's Indomitable Queen by Alison Plowden. Biography of the Spanish princess who married Charles I. At first they didn't get along, but eventually they became devoted to each other. Out of print, but available from Alibris.

Henrietta Maria by Elizabeth Hamilton. Subtitled "Reckless, Sensual and Demanding - the Catholic Queen Who Kept Charles I in Thrall and Cast the English Crown in Jeopardy." Out of print, but available at Alibris.

Charles II's Minette by Bryan Bevan is about Charles I's daughter Princess Henriette-Anne. Available used from Alibris.

Book About Charles II
Books About James II

Queen Henrietta Maria's Court

Women and Culture at the Courts of the Stuart Queens edited by Clare McManus. Literature, theater, patronage, and commissioning in the courts of Anna of Denmark (1603-19) and Henrietta Maria (1625-42).

Mad Madge: The Extraordinary Life of Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, the First Woman to Live by Her Pen by Katie Whitaker. A long-time maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria, Margaret married the Duke of Newcastle in 1645. The duchess began publishing her poetry and essays while in exile with the queen, and continued after returning to Britain with the restoration of Charles II.

Lord Minimus: The Extraordinary Life of Britain's Smallest Man by Nick Page. Biography of little person Jeffrey Hudson, who spent 18 years in the household of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Britain's King Charles I. He had a truly extraordinary life -- was captured by pirates twice, killed a man in a duel, and eventually became a slave. Out of print, but available from Alibris.

Novels About Charles I & Henrietta Maria

The Young and Lonely King by Jane Lane. Portrays Charles I as a man masked in misery, from the death of his brother Henry to his disastrous marriage with Henriette Marie.

The Severed Crown by Jane Lane. Novel about the later life of Charles I.

Cavalier Queen by Fiona Mountain. Tells the story of the English Civil Wars through the eyes of Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria.

Loyal in Love by Jean Plaidy. Novel about Henrietta Maria, queen of British king Charles I. Reprint edition. (Previously published under the title Myself My Enemy.)

The Queen's Dwarf: A Novel by Ella March Chase. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is trained to become a spy in the household of King Charles I's 17-year-old bride, Henrietta Maria, but he falls in love with the queen he has been sent to destroy.

Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King by Margaret Campbell Barnes. The tragic story of Charles I, the last absolute monarch of England, during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, and a servant girl who plots his escape. First published in 1956.

English Civil War

Cromwell to Cromwell: Reformation to Civil War by John Schofield. The English reformers of the 1530s, with Thomas Cromwell at their head, believed strongly in kingly rule. Yet just more than 100 years later, the deferential Reformation had become a regicidal revolution.

Britain in Revolution, 1625-1660 by Austin Woolrych. Definitive history of the English Civil War, set in its full historical context from the accession of Charles I to the restoration of Charles II.

Royalists and Royalism During the English Civil Wars edited by Jason McElligott and David L. Smith. Scholarly essays focusing on royalists as pragmatic, moderate men, not so different from those who sided with Parliament and its army.

Cavalier Generals: King Charles I and His Commanders in the English Civil War by John Barratt. Explores the careers and characters of King Charles, Prince Rupert, and lesser-known Royalist officers.

Books About Cromwell and the Commonwealth

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer. The son of Elector Palatine Frederick V, Prince Rupert of the Rhine commanded Royalist forces during the English Civil War. This is the first comprehensive biography of the greatest cavalier of them all.

The Black Legend of Prince Rupert's Dog: Witchcraft and Propaganda During the English Civil War by Mark Stoyle. Boy, a dog belonging to Charles I's nephew Prince Rupert of the Rhine, became a celebrity during the English Civil War. Like his master, Boy was held to possess supernatural powers and frequently portrayed as a devil or a witch.

The King's Trial & Execution

The Last Days of Charles I by Graham Edwards. Recounts the trial, execution, and the king's burial.

A King Condemned: The Trial and Execution of Charles I by C.V. Wedgwood. An acclaimed account of the king's trial and his final days. Previously published as A Coffin for King Charles.

"O Horrable Murder" by Robert B. Partridge. Reconstructs the trial, execution, and burial of King Charles I in vivid detail.

The Regicides and the Execution of Charles I edited by Jason Peacey. Essays with a focus on the relations between the three kingdoms of Britain.

The Cult of King Charles the Martyr by Andrew Lacey. King Charles I was viewed by some as a martyr after his execution in 1649. This is the first study to deal exclusively with the cult, from the king's death until 1859.

The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold by Geoffrey Robertson. About John Cooke, son of a poor farmer, who prosecuted King Charles I. The author believes the king was guilty as charged and his execution was necessary to establish the sovereignty of Parliament.

Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer. In 1649, a tribunal of 135 men unanimously passed a death sentence on King Charles I. When his son Charles II was restored to the throne, he enacted a deadly wave of retribution. This book tells the shocking stories of the men whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision to kill a king.

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Related Topics

King Charles II
King James II
Queen Mary II and King William III
Queen Anne
The Stuart Monarchs
King James I
Britain's Royal History
Scotland's Royal History




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King Charles I by Pauline Gregg
Charles I (official British monarchy site)
The English Civil Wars
Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration of the Monarchy



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