After my Myths & Legends Walks on the 30th January I am catching up on my ‘Almanac of the Year’
January 29th was the ‘Concordia’, the birthday of Pax and Irene and so a Roman Peace Festival. I do hope the Russians are taking note.
January 30th was the anniversary of the day King Charles I was beheaded as a murderer and traitor, or, on the other hand, a martyr to the Church of England, depending upon your point of view.
Samuel Pepys observed the funeral, as did thousands of others. They crowded around the scaffold outside a window of Inigo Jones’s magnificent Banqueting Hall, in Whitehall, London. Whether Charles appreciated the irony of his last walk which was below the magnificent Reubens’ ceiling depicting the Apotheosis of his father, James I, we can’t say. But it is, perhaps, more likely he thought he was soon on his way to meet his father in heaven in glory as a Martyr to his religion. But he walked outside, wearing 2 shirts so that he would not shiver and made a short speech exonerating himself. All the Roof Tops around were lined with spectators and, as the executioner axe, fell there was a dull grown from the crowd.
This was on January 30th. Charles would have said it was in 1648 but we think of it as 1649 because this was before our conversation to the Gregorian calendar – the date changed in those days not on January 1st but on March 25th when the archangel Gabriel revealed to the Virgin Mary that she was pregnant.
On the same day, twelve years later, in 1660 Oliver Cromwell’s and his chief henchmen were dug up from their splendid Westminster Abbey tombs and their bodies abused by official command. Cromwell’s head was stuck on the top of Westminster Hall where is remained for many years.
The Royalist, John Evelyn said in his diary:
This day (oh the stupendous, and inscrutable Judgements of God) were the Carkasses of that arch-rebel Cromwel1, Bradshaw, the Judge who condemned his Majestie and Ireton, sonn in law to the usurper, dragged out of their superb Tombs (in Westminster among the Kings) to Tybourne, and hanged on the Gallows there from 9 in the morning till 6 at night, and then buried under that fatal and ignominious Monument in a deep pit. Thousands of people (who had seen them in all their pride and pompous insults) being spectators .
Samuel Pepys who served the Parliamentary side before, adroitly, swapping over to the Royalists records by contrast:
…do trouble me that a man of so great courage as he was should have that dishonour, though otherwise he might deserve it enough…
This is also the anniversary (1969) of the roof top concert in Saville Row where the Beatles played ‘Get Back’.