EXECUTION OF CHARLES I BEFORE THE
BANQUET HOUSE AT WHITEHALL
Execution Speech of Charles I
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Charles' Execution Speech.
It follows the full text transcript of
the final speech of Charles I, delivered on the
scaffold at Whitehall, London, England - January 30, 1649.
I shall be very
little heard of anybody here, I shall therefore
speak a word unto you here.
Indeed I could
hold my peace very well, if I did not think that
holding my peace would make some men think that
I did submit to the guilt as well as to the
punishment. But I think it is my duty to God
first and to my country for to clear myself both
as an honest man and a good King, and a good
I shall begin
first with my innocence.
In truth I think
it not very needful for me to insist long upon
this, for all the world knows that I never did
begin a War with the two Houses of Parliament.
And I call God to witness, to whom I must
shortly make an account, that I never did intend
for to encroach upon their privileges. They
began upon me, it is the Militia they began
upon, they confessed that the Militia was mine,
but they thought it fit for to have it from me.
And, to be short, if any body will look to the
dates of Commissions, of their commissions and
mine, and likewise to the Declarations, will see
clearly that they began these unhappy troubles,
not I. So that as the guilt of these enormous
crimes that are laid against me I hope in God
that God will clear me of it.
I will not, I am
in charity, God forbid that I should lay it upon
the two Houses of Parliament. There is no
necessity of either. I hope that they are free
of this guilt, for I do believe that ill
instruments between them and me has been the
chief cause of all this bloodshed; so that by
way of speaking, as I find myself clear of this,
I hope and pray God that they may too; yet for
all this, God forbid that I should be so ill a
Christian as not to say that Gods Judgments are
just upon me.
Many times He does
pay justice by an unjust sentence, that is
ordinary. I will only say this, that an unjust
sentence that I suffered to take effect, is
punished now by an unjust sentence upon me. That
is, so far as I have said, to show you that I am
an innocent man.
Now to show you that I am a good Christian; I
hope there is [pointing to D. Juxon] a good man
that will bear me witness that I have forgiven
all the world, and even those in particular that
have been the chief causers of my death. Who
they are, God knows, I do not desire to know,
God forgive them. But this is not all, my
charity must go further.
I wish that they
may repent, for indeed they have committed a
great sin in that particular. I pray God, with
St. Stephen, that this be not laid to their
charge. Nay, not only so, but that they may take
the right way to the peace of the kingdom, for
my charity commands me not only to forgive
particular men, but my charity commands me to
endeavor to the last gasp the peace of the
So, Sirs, I do
wish with all my soul, and I do hope there is
some here [turning to some gentlemen that wrote]
that will carry it further, that they may
endeavor the peace of the kingdom.
Now, sirs, I must
show you both how you are out of the way and
will put you in a way.
First, you are out
of the way, for certainly all the way you have
ever had yet, as I could find by anything, is by
way of conquest. Certainly this is an ill way,
for Conquest, sirs, in my opinion, is never
just, except that there be a good just cause,
either for matter of wrong or just title. And
then if you go beyond it, the first quarrel that
you have to it, that makes it unjust at the end
that was just at the first. But if it be only
matter of conquest, there is a great robbery, as
a pirate said to Alexander the Great, that he
was the great robber, he was just a petty
robber. And so, sirs, I do think the way that
you are in, is much out of the way.
Now, sirs, to put
you in the way, believe it, you will never do
right, nor God will never prosper you, until you
give God his due, the King his due (that is, my
successors) and the people their due. I am as
much for them as any of you.
You must give God
his due by regulating rightly His church
according to the Scripture, which is now out of
order. For to set you in a way particularly, now
I cannot, but only this. A national synod freely
called, freely debating among themselves, must
settle this, when that every opinion is freely
and clearly heard.
For the King, indeed I will not, [then turning
to a gentlemen that touched the ax] Hurt not the
Ax, that may hurt me.
For the King the
Laws of the land will clearly instruct you for
that; therefore, because it concerns my own
particular, I only give you a touch of it.
For the people, and truly I desire their liberty
and freedom as much as any body whomsoever. But
I must tell you that their liberty and freedom
consists in having of government. Those Laws by
which their life and their goods may be most
their own. It is not for having share in
government, sirs. That is nothing pertaining to
them. A subject and a sovereign are clean
different things, and therefore until they do
that, I mean, that you do put the people in that
liberty as I say, certainly they will never
Sirs, it was for this that now I am come here.
If I would have given way to an arbitrary way,
for to have all laws changed according to the
power of the sword, I needed not to have come
here. And therefore I tell you, and I pray God
it be not laid to your charge, that I am the
martyr of the people.
In truth, sirs, I shall not hold you much
longer, for I will only say thus to you. That in
truth I could have desired some little time
longer, because I would have put then that I
have said in a little more order, and a little
better digested than I have done. And,
therefore, I hope that you will excuse me.
I have delivered my conscience. I pray God, that
you do take those courses that are best for the
good of the kingdom and your own salvation.
[William Juxon, Archbishop of Canterbury:]
Will Your Majesty, though it may be very well
known Your Majesties affections to religion, yet
it may be expected, that You should, say
somewhat for the world's satisfaction.
I thank you very heartily, my Lord, for that. I
had almost forgotten it.
In truth, sirs, my
conscience in religion, I think, is very well
known to all the world. And therefore, I declare
before you all that I die a Christian, according
to the profession of the Church of England, as I
found it left me by my father.
And this honest
man [pointing to Juxon] I think will witness it.
[Then turning to the Officers]
Sirs, excuse me
for this same. I have a good Cause, and I have a
gracious God. I will say no more.
[Then turning to
Take care that
they do not put me to pain. And sir, this, and
it please you...
[But then a
gentleman coming near the Ax, the King said]
Take heed of the
ax, pray, take heed of the ax.
[Then to the
I shall say but
very short prayers, and when I thrust out my
[Then the King
called to Juxon for His night cap and put it on.
Then to the Executioner]
Does my hair
desired Him to put it all under His cap, which
the King did accordingly, by the help of the
Executioner and the Bishop. Then the King
turning to Juxon:]
I have a good
cause, and a gracious God on my side.
There is but one Stage more, which is turbulent
and troublesome, yet it is a short one. You may
consider it will soon carry you a very great
way. It will carry you from earth to heaven. And
there you shall find a great deal of cordial,
joy, and comfort.
I go from a corruptible, to an incorruptible
Crown, where no disturbance can be, no
disturbance in the world.
You are exchanged from a temporal to an eternal
crown. A good exchange.
[The King then asked the Executioner]
Is my hair well?
[Then the king
took off his cloak and his George, giving his
George to Juxon, saying:]
[Then the King put
off his doublet and, being in his waistcoat, put
his cloak on again. Then looking upon the block,
the king said to the Executioner:]
You must set it
It is fast, sir.
It might have been
a little higher.
It can be no
When I put out my
hands this way, then.
[After having said
a few words as he stood to himself with hands
and eyes lift up, immediately stooping down, the
king laid his neck on the block. Then the
Executioner again putting his hair under his
cap, the king said:]
Stay for the sign.
Yes, I will, and
it please Your Majesty.
[After a very little pause, the king stretching
forth his hands, the Executioner at one blow,
severed his head from his body.]