Eikon Basilike, Commonwealth-era EditionSKU: 9331
Eikon Basilike, Commonwealth-era Edition
Date of publication:
Reliquiæ sacræ Carolinæ. Or The works of that great monarch and glorious martyr King Charls the I. Collected together, and digested in order, according to their severall subjects, civil and sacred. Hague [i.e. London], Printed by Samuell Browne [ie W. DuGard for Frances Eglesfield], 1651.
The King’s ghostwriter
The Eikon Basilike was originally attributed to Charles I, but is generally thought to have been written (entirely or at least in part) by John Gauden (1605-1662), who claimed authorship after the Restoration. At the very least Gauden probably included some authentic writings of the King, or Charles edited the work: Charles was observed working on a manuscript during his imprisonment.
A true account of a false imprint
ESTC notes that the imprint is false: ‘in fact printed in 1651 in London by W. DuGard for Frances Eglesfield’. Samuel Brown was indeed publishing royalist literature at the Hague in the 1650s, but back in London printers such as Richard Royston (formerly the King’s bookseller), had already been in trouble with the new regime for publishing and distributing ‘scandalous’ material, and most wisely chose to keep a low profile.
Condition & Materials
8vo. pp. [xvi], 276; [vi], 268, 10, 149-324 + folding allegorical frontispiece engraved by William Marshall depicting the King as a Christian martyr: kneeling, holding a crown of thorns and gazing upwards at a heavenly crown. One further single-page medallion portrait of the young King, aged 19. Divisional title to the Eikon Basilike dated 1648. Occasional trivial spotting, 19th century half calf, rebacked. Bound in at the front is a page of notes in a 19th century hand, collating this copy against the on described by Lowndes in his ‘Bibliographer’s Manual’.