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Charles I: The Personal Monarch, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415125659
ISBN-10: 0415125650
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Editorial Reviews


"This is by far the best modern biography of Charles I and will be welcomed both by general readers and by specialists...a strikingly individual contribution to our understanding of the personality of this King." -- British Book News --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 423 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (September 24, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415125650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415125659
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,302,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book after a trip to England, trying to figure out how Charles had so mismanaged his relationship with the House of Commons that he became the only British King to literally be killed by it. This book takes you on an amazing journey. Charles disguises himself and slips out of England, going to Madrid to check out a potential bride in Spanish Royalty. It doesn't work out, and soon after he marries Henrietta Maria of France. She speaks French, and is Catholic. He, of course, is the great defender of the Church of England. Yet they grow to love each other. But in these Puritan times, there are many who are anti-Catholic, and who think that Charles will make the island nation Catholic. The Scots want him to make it Presbyterian.
His fights with the House of Commons lead to the English Civil War, which the Royalists lose. But when the radicals in Parliament can't get what they want; approval of a court (with no legal footing) to try and then execute Charles, they do something that seems unthinkable today: they kick out everyone who voted against them. Now the fix is in, yet the judges summoned by Commons to participate, refuse. Still, as the drama builds, that does not stop those intent on killing the king. Amazing Charles handles his last months of life with great dignity, once turning his back to his advisors so they will not see his tears fall. The day before his beheading, he is allowed to see his children, in scene that is emotional for any parent to read. What happened in London in a bleak January in 1649, and all the events leading up to it, create a story that should be read by everyone in the United States and Great Britain.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a good overall account of the life and times of Charles I, coupled with insightful bits on the psychology behind some of the king's actions as he went through a series of blunders that led him to eventually lose his head. I recommend the book to gain an understanding of the events of the times, and of the Stuart era that was such a revolutionary period in English history.
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Format: Paperback
Published more than thirty years ago, with a second edition in 1995. Few recent biographies of Charles, so this is still relevant.

Well researched and well written. The author uses psychology and psychoanalysis to understand his subject, but he avoids jargon. He is first and foremost a historian. This is a historical biography.

For a long time now interpretations of this period have rejected explanations in terms of class and ideology. Charles I is no longer driftwood on the tide of progress or revolution. Rather he counted – unfortunately for his memory, he counted in a negative way. Carlton also puts the King in the frame.

He does not imply destiny, however. Charles I had choices to make and options to consider. Unfortunately he was bequeathed from early life a character that predisposed him to choose the “wrong” path.

Carlton recognizes the crucial context here – “the psychological climate in which monarchs grew up and ruled made it hard for them to compromise”. Less villain that tragic hero.

By the end of his life he had lost most of his powers as King. As a man he emerged as a much more sympathetic person – this is clear from the account of his trial and subsequent execution. The last two years, when he was effectively a prisoner, were a period of “tremendous personal development”. Abruptly terminated, of course!!

The problem– as really with all biographies – is that insufficient play is given to other characters and still less to broader developments in society and economy. This is especially so of the Civil War itself – the radicalization of the rebels, the power of the army, the immense social dislocation of 1642-5 – none get here the attention they would receive in a broader account.
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