Baroque and Rococo


Baroque and Rococo Art Map

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Anthony van Dyck


Anthony van Dyck

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born March 22, 1599, Antwerp
died Dec. 9, 1641, London

Van Dyck also spelled Vandyke , Flemish Anthonie Van Dyck , Anthonie also spelled Antonie , or Anton after Rubens, the most prominent Flemish painter of the 17th century. A prolific painter of portraits of European aristocracy, he also executed many works on religious and mythological subjects and was a fine draftsman and etcher. Appointed court painter by Charles I of England in 1632, he was knighted the same year.

Background and early years

Van Dyck was the seventh of 12 children of Frans van Dyck, a well-to-do silk merchant. At the age of 10, he was apprenticed to Hendrik van Balen, a successful Antwerp painter, and he must soon have come under the influence of Rubens, who after 1608 assumed undisputed leadership of art in Antwerp.

Van Dyck's first surviving work, the portrait of a man, is dated 1613; a self-portrait could not have been done much later. In the figural compositions of the first eight years of his career, he obviously emulated Rubens' melodramatic style, though, instead of using Rubens' technique of enamel-like glazes, he painted directly and with a rather coarse texture. His colour scale is darker and warmer than Rubens'; his lights and shades are more abrupt; and his figures are more angular in their gestures and less harmoniously proportioned. He exaggerated the expression of his figures, from the fierce fanaticism or feverish ecstasy of saints and the brutality of executioners to the voluptuous smiles of satyrs and the drunken stupor of Silenus, companion to Dionysus, the god of wine.

The Belgian patricians and their wives that he painted duringhis early years generally are rendered in bust or knee length;their hands hold gloves or other articles or fall idly over the back or armrest of a chair. His earliest portraits had neutral backgrounds, but under Rubens' influence he introduced props such as columns to enrich the setting. With consummate skill he rendered details of costume and decor. His portraits, always convincing as likenesses, show the models as calm and dignified. Their expressions are guardedrather than warm.

Van Dyck was precocious. When only 18, he acted as family representative in a lawsuit; before he was 19, his father declared him legally of age. In February 1618 he was inscribed as master in the Antwerp guild. It is uncertain when he entered the studio of Rubens, but on July 17, 1620, a correspondent of Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, reported that “Van Dyck is still staying with Rubens and his works begin to be appreciated as much as those of his master.” In March 1620 Rubens used the assistance of “Van Dyck and some other disciples.” In view of Van Dyck's fully developed personal style in these years, however, it is probably more accurate to call him Rubens' collaborator rather than his pupil.

Although the relationship between Rubens and Van Dyck became strained after 1630, there is no evidence that Rubens tried to hamper the career of the young rival. He probably helped him with recommendations on his first trip to England (November 1620 to February 1621), where Rubens' admirer the Earl of Arundel was also Van Dyck's protector.


Career in Antwerp and Italy

Apparently unwilling to remain at the court of King James I, despite an annual salary of £100, Van Dyck returned to Antwerp and in October 1621 set out for Italy. There, too, Rubens' recommendations paved his way. His first goal was Genoa, where he was immediately patronized by the same group of aristocratic families for whom Rubens had been active 14 years earlier.

Genoa remained Van Dyck's headquarters, but he is known to have visited Rome, Venice, Padua, Mantua, Milan, and Turin. In 1624 he visited Palermo, where he painted the Spanish viceroy Emanuel Philibert of Savoy. Although everywhere employed with commissions, Van Dyck used the opportunity of his Italian years to study the works of the great Italian painters. A sketchbook in the British Museum testifies to his attraction to the Venetian masters, above all, Titian. He made many rapid sketches of their compositions, occasionally adding notes about colour and spontaneous words of praise. The few figural compositions of Van Dyck's years in Italy betray a trend toward colouristic and expressive refinement under the influence of the Venetian school. Recollections of Rubens and of Bolognese masters may be seen in his most accomplished religious work done in Italy, the “Madonna of the Rosary.” The Italian portraits, many in full length, stress grandeur and aristocratic refinement. There, he also did his first equestrian portraits. While in earlier portraits the sitters generally look at the beholder, now they often are turned away as if concerned with weightier matters. Some of his Genovese ladies, portrayed in glitter and silk, have a condescending look. In July 1627 Van Dyck was again in Antwerp, where he remained until 1632. The frequent absence of Rubens between 1626, when he entered the diplomatic service, and 1630 on foreign missions may have induced many patrons to turn to Van Dyck. He received numerous commissions for altarpieces and for portraits, which forced him to employ assistants. During this period Van Dyck also began to make small monochrome portraits in oil and drawings in chalk of princes, soldiers, scholars, art patrons, and, especially, of fellow artists, with the view of having them engraved and published. At least 15 of these portraits were etched by Van Dyck himself. The others were engraved. The series, popularly known as Van Dyck's Iconography, was first published in 1645–46.

The tendencies first manifested in works done in Italy carry over into the five years Van Dyck now spent in Antwerp. He and his patrons appear to have realized that his talent was suited better to themes involving tender emotion than to themes of violent action. The happiest works of that period show the Virgin as the affectionate mother with the infant Jesus in her arms or as the Mater Dolorosa in lamentation scenes; equally appealing are pictures showing saints in religious transport. In memory of his father, Van Dyck in 1629 painted the crucified Christ with St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena, one of his noblest works and a prime example of the spiritual intensity fostered by the Counter-Reformation. Some of Van Dyck's most enchanting stories from mythology or fable were done during these years. His manner of painting was now quite economical. The pigments were put on thinly, in delicate combinations of blue, gray, pink, ochre, and sienna. The emphasis is on mellowness, in colour and tone. Although he continued to give an almost sensuous appeal to textures, such as silk, hair, and human skin, his paintings became increasingly cooland artificial. In this period, bust- and half-length figures were again in the majority, as they had been during his first years in Antwerp. Among his models were many members of the great princely houses of Europe, but some of the finest pictures are of collectors and art patrons, as well as scholars, churchmen, and a great many Antwerp artists. To this group should be added portraits done during his visit to the Continent in 1634–35, among them one of the Abbé Scaglia, the skillful diplomat, for whom Van Dyck also painted one of his last religious pictures, a lamentation (Antwerp). In these portraits a new predilection for rhetorical poses is noticeable. With agile hands, some figures seem to address an audience, in keeping with a Baroque taste in portraiture.

Last years in England

After a brief trip to Holland in February 1632, Van Dyck again went to England, where he became highly successful. King Charles I appointed him “principalle Paynter in ordinary of their Majesties” and knighted him. He gave him a golden chain and settled upon him an annual salary of £200 sterling. Yet, in March 1634 Van Dyck returned once again to Antwerp, ostensibly to settle matters connected with his family estate but probably also to establish contacts with the new Spanish governor expected in the fall of that year. The Antwerp guild of artists appointed him “honorary dean,” a title that had been bestowed before only on Rubens. In 1635 Van Dyck was again in England, after about a year's absence.

He lived in Black friars in London, outside the jurisdiction of the local guild, where Charles I liked to visit him. During the summer Van Dyck was given a place in Eltham Castle, Kent. His work now consisted almost exclusively of painting portraits, and they are his most popular.

The visual image of English society prior to the revolution of 1648 has forever been shaped by Van Dyck. Charles I himself was frequently portrayed by the master and nowhere perhaps more revealingly than in a beautiful canvas in Paris in which he appears “as he would have wished to live in history: a figure of matchless elegance, of unquestioned authority and high culture, the patron of the arts, and the upholder of the divine right of kings” (E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, 1950). A portrait showing three views of the King was made to serve for a bust to be made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; the sculpture perished, however, in 1697.

As in his Italian portraits, full-length renderings prevail, but his English patrons seem more rigid and, as a rule, more prosaic than their Latin counterparts. An unusual feature, reflecting a literary vogue, is allegorical attributes and mythological disguises. Ladies often are pictured with roses or holding a hand under water running from an urn. Portraying himself with a sunflower, Van Dyck expresses emblematically his devotion to the King.

Van Dyck's gift for combining formality and casualness shows up particularly well in portrait commissions involving groups of people. To his last decade belong a little-known picture of of the family of John, count of Nassau-Siegen, and the largest of all his extant paintings (more than 19 feet [580centimetres] wide), of the family of Philip Herbert, earl of Pembroke. In his several versions of the children of Charles I,among other pictures, he gives to his models all their youthful innocence no matter how gravely dignified their pose.

Van Dyck organized his portrait painting in an efficient manner designed also to increase his prestige. He gave hourly appointments to his sitters, leaving the execution of accessories to his assistants. While the King paid slowly and at times was even forced to reduce the artist's demands, Van Dyck derived a comfortable income from his many portraits. His life matched in luxury that of his clients. In 1639 he married Mary Ruthven, by whom he had one daughter.

He must have realized, however, that the political fortunes of the Stuart monarchy were declining. He had failed in an ambitious plan to decorate the Banqueting House at Whitehall with a “Procession of the Knights of the Garter” in tapestry, and in September 1640 he again left England, induced possibly by the hope of taking the place of Rubens, who had died in May. In nervous haste he went from Antwerp to Paris, thence back to London, and again to Paris. At the end of November 1641 he returned to London, sick and having failed in his projects. He died shortly thereafter and was buried in St. Paul's.


Van Dyck was a handsome man, but his features lacked strength, and he was rather short. Although socially ambitious, he remained devoted to the members of his family and on cordial terms with fellow artists. His manners were suave and ingratiating. According to legend, he inclined to licentiousness and extravagance, but the evidence is inconclusive. Whatever the faults of his character, he certainly was never idle. Only by combining facility of execution with great industry could a man who died at the age of 42 have painted a body of work as large as his. Five hundred of his portraits, apart from many copies from his own hand, are extant.

Van Dyck's influence was pervasive and lasting. Many of the younger Flemish painters owe more to him than to Rubens. Dutch and German portraitists, especially those active in London, among them Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller, continued his manner, as did several native Englishmen. The style of the great 18th-century English portrait painters, especially that of Thomas Gainsborough, was deeply indebted to Van Dyck, and Spanish painters, who appear to have known Van Dyck's works mainly from engravings, imitated and occasionally even copied the religious compositions of the Flemish artist.

The enduring fame of Van Dyck rests on his portraits. Whether he painted the patricians and artists of Antwerp, the nobles of Genoa, or the court of Charles I, Van Dyck succeeded in idealizing his models without sacrificing any of their individuality. He adopted patterns of portraiture that had been formulated before, chiefly by Hans Holbein, Antonio Moro, Titian, and Rubens, but he invented innumerable variations, never losing sight of the fundamental necessity to retain an impeccable formality no matter how exact the likeness. His reputation was always high, but, whereas formerly the works of his last period were most admired, those of his youth and of his Genovese period have been favoured in the 20th century for their freshness and spontaneity. The interest of scholars and collectors has also turned increasingly toward works neglected before, such as the artist's oil sketches and his many drawings and watercolours, including some of his sensitive studies of landscapes.

Julius S. Held



Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of the Painter Cornelis de Wae

c. 1627
Oil on canvas
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp


This Flemish artist travelled widely, painting the rich and powerful, from Genoese bankers to the Stuart royal family. His successive posts as court painter to the Archduchess Isabella in Brussels and to Charles I in London did not limit his range of subjects. He painted portraits with an extraordinary, realistic elegance, and with psychological depth



Antonu van Dyck
Emperor Charles V

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Anthony van Dyck



Anthony van Dyck

Charles I of England, Hunting



Soon after his graduation as master of St. Luke's painters' guild in Antwerp (1618), Anthony van Dyck, who had worked independently since 1615 when barely more than a youth, started work on a number of important paintings in the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens, who was twenty-two years his senior. Rubens's influence on the style of the younger artist is unmistakable, and this was as good an entry as any to the world of society portraiture, both at home and abroad. Van Dyck specialised in portraiture from very early on. An important early work is the double portrait, actually a pair, of a Genucse senator and his wife, probably executed in 1622 during a visit to Italy. It is an early example of the monumental style used by van Dyck to emphasise the power, dignity and rank of his artistocratic patrons, a style which, in spite of the artist's attention to the individual psychology expressed in each face, bestowed upon his sitters a demure sense of reserve, further intensified by painting them against a background of palatial architecture.

Antonu van Dyck
The Genoese Senator
oil on canvas
Gemaldegalerie, Berlin

Antonu van Dyck
The Genoese Senator's Wife
oil on canvas
Gemaldegalerie, Berlin

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) ran his own studio from the age of 17. His fame soon spread beyond the Flemish borders. His work was much in demand abroad. He became painter to the English court in 1620/21. In October 1621 he travelled to Italy with letters of introduction from Rubens, whose workshop he had entered in 1617. Van Dyck's portraits of Genuese nobility were modelled on standards set by Rubens's own portraits of noblemen. Rubens had emphasised the dignity and rank of his patrician patrons, commanding the spectator's respect by viewing the sitter from slightly below.


In 1632 van Dyck went to London, where he became painter to Charles I.

Here he remained until his death in 1641, except for a two-year visit to Brussels (1634/35). As "principalle Paynter in Ordinary to their Majesties at St. James" from 1633 onwards, and with an annual income of two hundred pounds per annum, he now had the necessary freedom and routine to develop his own style. While remaining within the bounds of conventional decorum, his elegant portraits non-ethless allowed the sitter to appear more relaxed.
This is well illustrated by a portrait of Charles I (now in the Louvre)168 which, during the eighteenth century, entered the collection of Countess Dubarry, who had insisted, rather too boldly as it turned out, that she was an heir to the Stuarts. Unlike many of van Dyck's official portraits of the English king - often modelled on paintings like Titian's Emperor Charles V after the Battle of Miihlberg, or Rubens's equestrian portraits such as the Duke of Lerma, which show the ruler from below in order to emphasise his sublime grandeur and regal majesty - Charles I is portrayed here almost as a private gentleman, without the insignia or pomp of royalty. A closer look, however, reveals that the purpose of this painting, too, is to demonstrate the power of the throne. Even the theme itself - a hunting trip - refers to an aristocratic privilege. Accompanied by two pages, or stable boys, one of whom is saddling the horse, while the other brings blankets, Charles I stands casually in a forest clearing, posing against a distant maritime landscape. He is wearing a fashionably tilted, broad-brimmed hat, a shining silver doublet and turndown boots. His left hand rests on his hip, nonchalantly holding a kid glove. However negligent the pose may initially seem, its gestural vocabulary was, in fact, quite rigorously defined. The hand-on-the-hip was a set-piece gesture adopted by rulers to impress their subjects, a gesture whose exclusivity became even more visible when non-aristocratic sitters, for example Frans Hals's Willem van Heytbuyzen, attempted to imitate it. The glove, too, was a symbol invested with special chivalnc significance.
Christopher Brown has rightly pointed out that the impression of casual elegance imparted by this painting must be viewed in relation to the reception of Baldassare Castiglione's Cortegiano. The "courtier's code" described in this book had been influential in England since Elizabethan times. Charles I was concerned to appear before his subjects as the ideal, universally educated nobleman, well-versed in all the arts, including that of hunting. Here, his pose is leisurely, unconstrained; at the same time, his regal dignity is intact, commanding a respectful distance between the spectator and himself.
Norbert Schnneider

Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg

Duke of Lerma

Frans Hals
Willem van Heythuyzen


Antonu van Dyck
Charles I: King of England at the Hunt

Oil on canvas
Musee du Louvre, Paris



The glove had an important place in matters of diplomatic protocol, investiture and aristocratic legal culture. Yellow and white gloves were considered especially elegant.


Antonu van Dyck
Charles I on Horseback

c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 365 x 289 cm
National Gallery, London


Antonu van Dyck
Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, King of England

Oil on canvas, 123 x 85 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Antonu van Dyck
Charles I on Horseback with
M. de St Antoine


Antonu van Dyck
Charles I of England and Henrietta of France

Oil on canvas
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence


Antonu van Dyck
Charles I in Three Positions
oil on canvas
Royal Collection, Windsor Castle



Charles I

born November 19, 1600, Dunfermline Palace, Fife, Scotland
died January 30, 1649, London

King of Great Britain and Ireland (1625–49), whose authoritarian rule and quarrels with Parliament provokeda civil war that led to his execution.
Charles was the second surviving son of James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark. He was a sickly child, and, when his father became king of England in March 1603, he was temporarily left behind in Scotland because of the risks of the journey. Devoted to his elder brother, Henry, and to his sister, Elizabeth, he became lonely when Henry died (1612) and his sister left England in 1613 to marry Frederick V, elector of the Rhine Palatinate.
All his life Charles had a Scots accent and a slight stammer. Small in stature, he was less dignified than his portraits by the Flemish painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck suggest. He was always shy and struck observers as being silent and reserved. His excellent temper, courteous manners, and lack of vices impressed all those who met him, but he lacked the common touch, travelled about little, and never mixed with ordinary people. A patron of the arts (notably of painting and tapestry; he brought both Van Dyck and another famous Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens, to England), he was, like all the Stuarts, also a lover of horses and hunting. He was sincerely religious, and the character of the court became less coarse as soon as he became king. From his father he acquired a stubborn belief that kings are intended by God to rule, and his earliest surviving letters reveal a distrust of the unruly House of Commons with which he proved incapable of coming to terms. Lacking flexibility or imagination, he was unable to understand that those political deceits that he always practiced in increasingly vain attempts to uphold his authority eventually impugned his honour and damaged his credit.
In 1623, before succeeding to the throne, Charles, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, King James I's favourite, made an incognito visit to Spain in order to conclude a marriage treaty with the daughter of King Philip III. When the mission failed, largely because of Buckingham's arrogance and the Spanish court's insistence that Charles become a Roman Catholic, he joined Buckingham in pressing his father for war against Spain. In the meantime a marriage treaty was arranged on his behalf with Henrietta Maria, sister of the French king, Louis XIII.

Conflict with Parliament

In March 1625, Charles I became king and married Henrietta Maria soon afterward. When his first Parliament met in June, trouble immediately arose because of the general distrust ofBuckingham, who had retained his ascendancy over the new king. The Spanish war was proving a failure and Charles offered Parliament no explanations of his foreign policy or its costs. Moreover, the Puritans, who advocated extemporaneous prayer and preaching in the Church of England, predominated in the House of Commons, whereas the sympathies of the King were with what came to be knownas the High Church Party, which stressed the value of the prayer book and the maintenance of ritual. Thus antagonism soon arose between the new king and the Commons, and Parliament refused to vote him the right to levy tonnage and poundage (customs duties) except on conditions that increased its powers, though this right had been granted to previous monarchs for life.
The second Parliament of the reign, meeting in February 1626, proved even more critical of the King's government, though some of the former leaders of the Commons were kept away because Charles had ingeniously appointed them sheriffs in their counties. The failure of a naval expedition against the Spanish port of Cádiz in the previous autumn was blamed on Buckingham and the Commons tried to impeach him for treason. To prevent this, Charles dissolved Parliament in June. Largely through the incompetence of Buckingham, the country now became involved in a war with France as well as with Spain and, in desperate need of funds, the King imposed a forced loan, which his judges declared illegal. He dismissed the chief justice and ordered the arrest of more than 70 knights and gentlemen who refused to contribute. His high-handed actions added to the sense of grievance that was widely discussed in the next Parliament.
By the time Charles's third Parliament met (March 1628), Buckingham's expedition to aid the French Protestants at La Rochelle had been decisively repelled and the King's government was throughly discredited. The House of Commons at once passed resolutions condemning arbitrary taxation and arbitrary imprisonment and then set out its complaints in the Petition of Right, which sought recognition of four principles—no taxes without consent of Parliament; no imprisonment without cause; no quartering of soldiers on subjects; no martial law in peacetime. The King, despite his efforts to avoid approving this petition, was compelled to give his formal consent. By the time the fourth Parliament met in January 1629, Buckingham had been assassinated. The House of Commons now objected both to what it called the revival of “popish practices” in the churches and to the levying of tonnage and poundage by the King's officers without its consent. The King ordered the adjournment of Parliament on March 2, 1629, but before that the speaker was held down in his chair and three resolutions were passedcondemning the King's conduct. Charles realized that such behaviour was revolutionary. For the next 11 years he ruled his kingdom without calling a Parliament.
In order that he might no longer be dependent upon parliamentary grants, he now made peace with both France and Spain, for, although the royal debt amounted to more than £1,000,000, the proceeds of the customs duties at a time of expanding trade and the exaction of traditional crown dues combined to produce a revenue that was just adequate in time of peace. The King also tried to economize in the expenditure of his household. To pay for the Royal Navy, so-called ship money was levied, first in 1634 on ports and later on inland towns as well. The demands for ship money aroused obstinate and widespread resistance by 1638, even though a majority of the judges of the court of Exchequer found in a test case that the levy was legal.
These in fact were the happiest years of Charles's life. At first he and Henrietta Maria had not been happy, and in July 1626 he peremptorily ordered all of her French entourage to quit Whitehall. After the death of Buckingham, however, he fell in love with his wife and came to value her counsel. Though the King regarded himself as responsible for his actions—not to his people or Parliament but to God alone according to the doctrine of the divine right of kings—he recognized his duty to his subjects as “an indulgent nursing father.” If he was often indolent, he exhibited spasmodic bursts of energy, principally in ordering administrative reforms, although little impression was made upon the elaborate network of private interests in the armed services and at court. On the whole, the kingdom seems to have enjoyed some degree of prosperity until 1639, when Charles became involved in a war against the Scots.
The early Stuarts neglected Scotland. At the beginning of his reign Charles alienated the Scottish nobility by an act of revocation whereby lands claimed by the crown or the church were subject to forfeiture. His decision in 1637 to impose upon his northern kingdom a new liturgy, based on the English Book of Common Prayer, although approved by the Scottish bishops, met with concerted resistance. When many Scots signed a national covenant to defend their Presbyterian religion, the King decided to enforce his ecclesiastical policy with the sword. He was outmanoeuvred by a well-organized Scottish covenanting army, and by the time he reached York in March 1639 the first of the so-called Bishops' Wars was already lost. A truce was signed at Berwick-upon-Tweed on June 18.
On the advice of the two men who had replaced Buckingham as the closest advisers of the King—William Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, and the Earl of Strafford, his able lord deputy in Ireland—Charles summoned a Parliament that met in April 1640—later known as the Short Parliament—in order to raise money for the war against Scotland. The Houseinsisted first on discussing grievances against the government and showed itself opposed to a renewal of the war; so, on May 5, the King dissolved Parliament again. The collection of ship money was continued and so was the war. A Scottish army crossed the border in August and the King's troops panicked before a cannonade at New burn. Charles, deeply perturbed at his second defeat, convened a council of peers on whose advice he summoned another Parliament, the Long Parliament, which met at Westminster in November 1640.
The new House of Commons, proving to be just as uncooperative as the last, condemned Charles's recent actions and made preparations to impeach Strafford and other ministers for treason. The King adopted a conciliatory attitude—he agreed to the Triennial Act that ensured the meeting of Parliament once every three years—but expressed his resolve to save Strafford, to whom he promised protection. He was unsuccessful even in this, however. Strafford was beheaded on May 12, 1641.
Charles was forced to agree to a measure whereby the existing Parliament could not be dissolved without its own consent. He also accepted bills declaring ship money and other arbitrary fiscal measures illegal, and in general condemning his methods of government during the previous 11 years. But while making these concessions, he visited Scotland in August to try to enlist anti-parliamentary support there. He agreed to the full establishment of Presbyterianism in his northern kingdom and allowed the Scottish estates to nominate royal officials.
Meanwhile, Parliament reassembled in London after a recess, and, on Nov. 22, 1641, the Commons passed by 159 to 148 votes the Grand Remonstrance to the King, setting out all that had gone wrong since his accession. At the same time news of a rebellion in Ireland had reached Westminster. Leaders of the Commons, fearing that if any army were raised to repress the Irish rebellion it might be used against them, planned to gain control of the army by forcing the King to agree to a militia bill. When asked to surrender his command of the army, Charles exclaimed “By God, not for an hour.” Now fearing an impeachment of his Catholic queen, heprepared to take desperate action. He ordered the arrest of one member of the House of Lords and five of the Commons for treason and went with about 400 men to enforce the order himself. The accused members escaped, however, and hid in the City. After this rebuff the King left London on January 10, this time for the north of England. The Queen went to Hollandin February to raise funds for her husband by pawning the crown jewels.
A lull followed, during which both Royalists and Parliamentarians enlisted troops and collected arms, although Charles had not completely given up hopes of peace. After a vain attempt to secure the arsenal at Hull, in April the King settled in York, where he ordered the courts of justice to assemble and where royalist members of both houses gradually joined him. In June the majority of the members remaining in London sent the King the Nineteen Propositions, which included demands that no ministers should be appointed without parliamentary approval, that the army should be put under parliamentary control, and that Parliament should decide about the future of the church. Charles realized that these proposals were an ultimatum; yet he returned a careful answer in which he gave recognition to the idea that his was a “mixed government” and not an autocracy. But in July both sides were urgently making ready for war. The King formally raised the royal standard at Nottingham on August 22 and sporadic fighting soon broke out all over the kingdom.

Civil War

In September 1642 the Earl of Essex, in command of the Parliamentarian forces, left London for the midlands, while Charles moved his headquarters to Shrewsbury to recruit and train an army on the Welsh marches. During a drawn battle fought at Edgehill near Warwick on October 23, the King addressed his troops in these words: “Your king is both your cause, your quarrel, and your captain. The foe is in sight. The best encouragement I can give you is that, come life or death, your king will bear you company, and ever keep this field, this place, and this day's service in his grateful remembrance.” Charles I was a brave man but no general, and he was deeply perturbed by the slaughter on the battlefield.
In 1643 the royal cause prospered, particularly in Yorkshire and the southwest. At Oxford, where Charles had moved his court and military headquarters, he dwelt pleasantly enough in Christ Church College. The Queen, having sold some of herjewels and bought a shipload of arms from Holland, landed in Yorkshire in February and joined her husband in Oxford in mid-July. Both by letters and by personal appeal she roused him to action and warned him against indecision; “delays have always ruined you,” she observed. The King seems to have assented to a scheme for a three-pronged attack on London—from the west, from Oxford, and from Yorkshire—but neither the westerners nor the Yorkshiremen were anxious to leave their own districts.
In the course of 1643 a peace party of the Parliamentarian side made some approaches to Charles in Oxford, but these failed and the Parliamentarians concluded an alliance with the Scottish covenanters. The entry of a Scottish army into England in January 1644 thrust the King's armies upon the defensive and the plan for a converging movement on London was abandoned. Charles successfully held his inner lines at Oxford and throughout the west and southwest of England, while he dispatched his nephew, Prince Rupert, on cavalry raids elsewhere. For about a year the King's forces had the upper hand; yet eventually he put out a number of peace feelers. These came to nothing, but he was cheered by reports that his opponents were beginning to quarrel among themselves.
The year 1645 proved to be one of decision. Charles may have had some foreboding of what was to come, for in the spring he sent his eldest son, Charles, into the west, whence he escaped to France and rejoined his mother, who had arrived there the previous year. On June 14 the highly disciplined and professionally led New Model Army organized and commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax with Oliver Cromwell (q.v.) as his second in command, defeated the King and Prince Rupert at the Battle of Naseby. This was the first of a long row of defeats the King's forces suffered through the summer and fall. Charles returned to Oxford on November 5, and by the spring of 1646 Oxford was surrounded. Charles left the city in disguise with two companions late in April and arrived at the camp of the Scottish covenanters at Newark on May 5. But when the covenanters came to terms with the victorious English Parliament in January 1647, they left for home, handing over Charles I to parliamentary commissioners. He was held in Northamptonshire, where he lived a placid, healthy existence and, learning of the quarrels between the New Model Army and Parliament, hoped to come to a treaty with one or the other and regain his power. In June, however, a junior officer with a force of some 500 men seized the King and carried him away to the army headquarters at Newmarket.
After the army marched on London in August, the King was moved to Hampton Court, where he was reunited with two of his children, Henry and Elizabeth. He escaped on November 11, but his friends' plans to take him to Jersey and thence to France went astray and instead Charles found himself in the Isle of Wight, where the governor was loyal to Parliament and kept him under surveillance at Carisbrooke Castle. There Charles conducted complicated negotiations with the army leaders, with the English Parliament, and with the Scots; he did not scruple to promise one thing to one side and the opposite to the other. He came to a secret understanding with the Scots on Dec. 26, 1647, whereby the Scots offered to support the King's restoration to power in return for his acceptance of Presbyterianism in Scotland and its establishment in England for three years. Charles then twice refused the terms offered by the English Parliament and was put under closer guard, from which he vainly tried again to escape.
In August 1648 the last of Charles's Scottish supporters were defeated at the Battle of Preston and the second Civil War ended. The army now began to demand that the King should be put on trial for treason as “the grand author of our troubles” and the cause of bloodshed. He was removed to Hurst Castle in Hampshire at the end of 1648 and thence taken to Windsor Castle for Christmas. On Jan. 20, 1649, he was brought before a specially constituted high court of justice in Westminster Hall.
Execution of the King
Charles I was charged with high treason and “other high crimes against the realm of England.” He at once refused to recognize the legality of the court because “a king cannot betried by any superior jurisdiction on earth.” He therefore refused to plead but maintained that he stood for “the liberty of the people of England.” The sentence of death was read on January 27; his execution was ordered as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy. The sentence was carried out on a scaffold erected outside the banqueting hall of Whitehall on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 30, 1649. The King went bravely to his death, still claiming that he was “a martyr for the people.” A week later he was buried at Windsor.

Maurice Ashley


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Anthony van Dyck



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