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Commemorating Charles I - King and Martyr?

The way in which the church commemoration of King Charles I's 1649 execution became a potent instrument in the political war of words after the Restoration is examined, and the history of the king's execution and the clergy's promotion of the event are discussed.

Days of fast or thanksgiving were not uncommonly celebrated in the late seventeenth century. To take a number of random examples: Charles II appointed November 13th, l678, as a fast day 'to implore the mercies of God' after the Popish Plot revelations. James II, his brother and successor, chose July 26th, 1685 as a thanksgiving day for his victory over the Duke of Monmouth. In the following reign, other days were set aside for thanksgiving or deliverance. January 31st, 1689 – immediately after the Revolution, but before the coronation of William and Mary – was assigned a thanksgiving day for the Prince of Orange's deliverance of the kingdom 'from Popery and arbitrary power': April 16th, 1696, was the date for giving thanks 'for the preservation of his Majesty ... from conspiracy' (an abortive assassination plot to murder William Ill at Turnham Green); and December 2nd, 1697, that given for the Peace of Ryswick.

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