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Charles I: The Personal Monarch, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition
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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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Worth reading if you are interested in a thorough understanding of the civil wars. Very interesting to read. I recommend this book highly.Published 11 months ago by Dina
While the book itself seems to be very good, the consistent typographical and formatting issues in the kindle version make it almost impossible to read! Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by Brooke nico