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This article investigates the development of the use of texts and images in commemorating the regicide of Charles I, from private commemoration among Royalists during the Republic, to its official institution after the Restoration. The article will argue that the Office gave official sanction to an image of the virtuous suffering king which had been in existence even before his execution. The Office also presented a particular view of the king's moral character, the causes of the Civil War and the Restoration which was to become the accepted account expounded in commemorative sermons for the next 150 years. Drawing on Old Testament themes, the Office also aimed to point a political moral used by successive governments, namely that attacks on the established order incurred divine punishment.
'I look upon the 30th day of January to be the most proper in all the year to preach up loyalty, and to preach down rebellion.' (1) So said Samuel Rolle, chaplain-in-ordinary, in a sermon preached on 30 January 1678, one of many such sermons preached between 1649 and the present day on the subject of the regicide of Charles I. (2) For at least 150 years after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, 30 January was observed in parish churches and cathedrals, school and college chapels, in private and in public as a day of fasting and prayer in memory of the execution of Charles I outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall on a freezing morning in 1649. Yet whilst the context and political theology of the sermons has been discussed, very little work has been done on the Office out of which the sermons arose. (3) This paper discusses the background to the Office for the regicide, the way it grew out of Royalist observance of the day during the Republic and the political theology of the Office itself.
The work of Kevin Sharpe and others has alerted us to the importance of textuality, the politics of reading and theories of reader-response in our study of the early modern period, and the Office for Charles the Martyr is a promising area for the application of this method. (4) The Office not only sought to control contemporary interpretations of the Civil Wars and regicide, it also presented an image of Charles as a text to be read, reflected upon and emulated by the people. An elegy produced almost as the axe fell says of Charles that 'No strain'd hypurboles adorne thy herse, / Thyself art both a monument and verse. (5) The presentation of Charles as a text to be read also emphasises the literary nature of the cult. Almost from the beginning of the Long Parliament Charles was obliged to present and justify himself to the nation in print, and the printed and spoken word was to be the primary medium of the cult, whether elegy, sermon, the Office or the Eikon basilike itself. (6) Significantly, the attempts to arouse interest in healing relics of the king during the Republic did not succeed. In this text-based cult the Office becomes doubly important, not just because the imagery and typology contained therein carried the authority implicit in its being the liturgy of the Church of England, but because it became yet another context within which the 'text' of Charles the Martyr could be annually re-presented.
That this process predates the Restoration is demonstrated by the fact that in January 1662 Nathaniel Hardy, vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, was invited for a second time to preach the fast day sermon before the House of Commons under the terms of the statute and royal proclamation of the previous January, establishing 30 January as a day of fasting and prayer in memory of the regicide. The choice of Hardy as preacher is revealing because he had begun his clerical career as a Presbyterian. In 1645, whilst present at Uxbridge during the parliamentary negotiations with Charles, Hardy had come under the influence of the Anglican apologist Henry Hammond, who persuaded him of the orthodoxy of episcopacy; Hardy soon afterwards declared himself an Anglican. (7) However, given the fluidity of allegiance in those days, he continued to minister to a Presbyterian congregation in London and maintained contacts with his former Presbyterian colleagues; the Dictionary of national biography records that he attended the mee tings of a Presbyterian classis until 1651. (8)
Anthony Wood says that during the 1650s Hardy instituted a monthly 'loyal lecture' at which a collection was taken to assist Anglican and Presbyterian clergy who had fallen on hard times. Wood also mentions that Hardy observed 30 January as a fast day during the Republic, a fact attested to by Hardy himself, who, in his 1662 sermon, recalls how, during the Republic
at the yearly returne, either upon or near the day, I adventured to become a remembrancer, to God of vengeance, to the people of penitence, for that bloudy fact, a fact indeed, which though it is not to be mentioned without abhorrency, yet cannot be forgotten without stupidity.
I have now lived to see an yearly fast enjoyned upon that doleful day, to be kept throughout all generations; and by your favour ... had the honour to be one of your servants in that solemne work this last anniversary. (9)
Although the 30 January Office was not annexed to the Book of Common Prayer until the summer of 1662, as Hardy's testimony reveals, Anglicans and Presbyterians had already been honouring the memory of Charles on or near the day through the 1650s. In 1649 Ralph Josselin -- by no means an enthusiastic Royalist -- confessed to his diary that he was 'much troubled with the blacke providence of putting the King to death; my teares were not restrained at the passages about his death, the Lord in mercy lay it not as sinne to the charge of the Kingdome', and in November 1649 Thomas Fuller called for 'an anniversary of mourning' to mark each 30 January. (10) To facilitate such anniversaries, forms of prayer were already available which could be adapted for the purpose, from John Cosin's A collection of private devotions of 1627, to the form used by the exiled chapel royal each Tuesday -- the day of the regicide - to pray for the safety and restoration of Charles II. (11) Others, based on forms of prayer drawn up for u se in the Royalist armies, were also available. These included Duppa's Private forms of prayer, fit for these sad times, published in 1645, to say nothing of the prayers and meditations available in the Eikon basilike and The princely pelican composed by Charles himself.
In Madrid in January 1650 Edward Hyde recorded his thoughts on the first anniversary of the regicide, concluding that England was being punished for her sins in losing so excellent a king and praying for the health, safety and restoration of Charles II. (12) Henry Vaughan continued the theme of repentance in three devotional manuals published in the 1650s which combined traditional Anglican piety with poetic meditations on the ruin of the Church and the desolation of God's people. He notes that these are particularly useful at a time when 'the people are fallen under the harrows and saws of impertinent and ignorant preachers, who think all religion is a sermon and all sermons ought to be libels against truth and old governors' (13). Part of Vaughan's intention in these manuals was to prepare his readers to follow in the footsteps of King Charles and the early Christian martyrs. Towards the end of the Republic John Huit or Hewitt published Prayers of intercession for their use who mourn in secret, for the publ ick calamities of the nation: with an anniversary prayer for the 30th of January: very necessary and useful in private families as well as in congregation. (14) Whilst these devotional manuals and works of apologetic may be entirely representative of contemporary Anglican devotion and theological practice, they are distinguished by the cutting …