Exploring the Banqueting House

On the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I in 1649, I am reminded of the place where this drama played out–the Banqueting House at Whitehall. Completed in 1622, the Banqueting House is the only remaining structure of Whitehall Palace and is situated across from the Horse Guards. During the Tudor age, the original Banqueting House was little better than a temporary venue. When King James I of England (VI of Scotland) succeeded Elizabeth on the throne in 1603 and ushered in the Stuart Age in England, he got down to work building a proper Banqueting House. His queen, Anne of Denmark, had…

The Execution of Charles I

Today is the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I. I have ambivalent thoughts about this. To a degree, I feel some sentimentality, though this is fuelled by the romance of Alexandre Dumas’s novel Twenty Years After when two of the musketeers, Athos and Aramis, were sent to rescue the King. It was my first introduction to the English Civil War, and the scene made a lasting impression on me—blood dripping between the gaps in the scaffold, landing on Athos who had been moments away from spiriting the King away. But that was fiction. On one hand, Charles I was stubborn…