King Charles the First by Van Dyck, 1828
King Charles the First by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, engraved by H. Robinson, 1828.
Charles I was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 until his execution in 1649. He was the second son of James VII and I of Scotland and England and became heir apparent following the Death of his brother Henry in 1612. Frail and sickly as a child, Charles went to great pains to overcome his physical weaknesses and applied himself in his studies. He spoke with a slight stammer, but he succeeded in eliminating his other infirmities which had slowed his development. In 1616 he was given the title of Prince of Wales. Like his father, Charles was a firm believer in the divine right of kings and his conviction that a king was answerable only to God served only to aggravate tensions between Charles and Parliament. He refused to compromise on disputes with parliament over policies, which led to resentment of the monarchy. The situation eventually erupted into the First Civil War (1642-1646), which was closely followed by the Second Civil War (1648-1649), due to an inability of the parties to come to a settlement. After Parliament won a second time, Charles was tried and found guilty of treason and the Commonwealth of England was established. He was executed by beheading on January 30, 1649. His son, Charles II, had him canonized following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) was a successful and sought after Flemish Baroque painter and etcher. In 1609, he began studying with Hendrick Van Balen. Six years later Van Dyck was an independent artist. He set up a workshop with Jan Brueghal the Younger in Antwerp. In 1618, he was inducted into the painter's Guild of St. Luke, in Antwerp. Not long afterward he was working as an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens, who's influence is evident in many of Van Dyck's paintings. He travelled often spending time in England and Italy. After returning to England in 1632, he became court painter to Charles I, receiving a pension of two hundred pounds per annum. Van Dyck painted approximately forty paintings of the monarch.
- Naomi Bean