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Friday, January 30, 2015

Were you there? A First Hand Account of the Execution of Charles I

The 30th January marks the 366th anniversary of the execution of Charles the First.

Charles I farewells his children
In an earlier blog post (Click HERE), I wrote about the commission set up to try Charles. The trial of a King for treason was unprecedented and the public execution of a monarch unthinkable. Yet it happened and was to repeat in France 150 years later.

Despite his challenge to the authority of the Commission that was set up to try him, Charles was found  guilty of the crimes levelled against him and sentenced to die by the axe. (For an account on the gruesome revenge exacted on the regicides by Charles II, see my post HERE)

The execution was scheduled for the morning of January 30 and a scaffold was set up outside the Inigo Jones designed dining chamber of Whitehall Palace (the only part of the old palace that still survives today - see my blog post on HISTORICAL HEARTS).

On the day of his execution, Charles was allowed one final meeting with his children Prince Henry and Princess Elizabeth who were the only members of his family still in England. Both children continued to be held hostage by the victors. Princess Elizabeth did not live to see the restoration of their brother and Prince Henry died at the age of 20 from smallpox shortly after the Restoration.

As a historian though, it is best to go to the primary sources and the following account of the execution comes from an eye witness (the spelling is original). The full text is at
“About ten in the morning the King was brought from St. James's, walking on foot throughthe park, with a regiment of foot, part before and part behind him, with colours flying, drums beating, his private guard of partizans with some of his gentlemen before and some behind bareheaded, Dr. Juxon next behind him and Col. Thomlinson (who had the charge of him) talking with the King bareheaded, from the Park up the stairs into the gallery and so into the cabinet chamber where he used to lie.

... Where he continued at his devotion, refusing to dine, (having before taken the Sacrament) only about an hour before he came forth, he drank a glass of claret wine and eat a piece of bread about twelve at noon. From thence he was accompanied by Dr. Juxon, Col. Thomlinson and other officers formerly appointed to attend him and the private guard of partizans, with musketeers on each side, through the Banqueting house adjoining to which the scaffold was erected between Whitehall Gate and the Gate leading into the gallery from St. James's. The scaffold was hung round with black and the floor covered with black and the Ax and block laid in the middle of the scaffold. There were divers companies of food, and troops of horse placed on the one side of the scaffold towards Kings Street and on the other side towards Charing Cross, and the multitudes of people that came to be spectators, very great. The King being come upon the scaffold, look'd very earnestly upon the block and ask'd Col. Hacker if there were no higher. And then spake thus, directing his speech chiefly to Col. Thomlinson...(Full text of speech omitted)

...Then turning to the officers, said, "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 Colonel Hacker, he said, "take care that they do not put me to pain. And Sir, this, an 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 the King, speaking to the Executioner said "I shall say but very short prayers, and when I thrust out my hands—"

Then the King called to Dr. Juxon for his night-cap, and having put it on said to the executioner "Does my hair trouble you?" Who 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 Dr. Juxom said, "I have a good cause, and a gracious GOD on my side." Dr. Juxon: There is but one stage more. This stage is turbulent and troublesome; it is a short one. But 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.

King: I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.

Doctor Juxon: You are exchanged from a temporal to an eternal crown, a good exchange.
The King then said to the Executioner, "Is my hair well?"

Then the King took off his cloak and his George, giving his George to Dr. Juxon, saying, "Remember—." (It is thought for to give it to the Prince)

Then the King put off his dublet and being in his wastcoat, put his cloak on again. Then looking upon the block, said to the Executioner "You must set it fast." Executioner: It is fast, Sir. King: It might have been a little higher. Executioner: It can be no higher, Sir. King: When I put out my hands this way (Stretching them out) then— After having said two or three words, as he stood, to himself with hands and eyes lift up.

Immediately stooping down laid his neck on the block And then the executioner again putting his hair under his cap, the King said, "Stay for the sign." (Thinking he had been going to strike)

Executioner: Yes, I will, an it please your Majesty.

And after a very little pause, the King stretching forth his hands, the executioner at one blow severed his head from his body. When the Kings head was cut off, the executioner held it up and shewed it to the spectators. And his body was put in a coffin covered with black velvet for that purpose. The Kings body now lies in his lodging chamber at Whitehall.

This image is said to be a contemporary portrayal of the execution (from a decidedly royalist point of view...the King is pictured on the left and his executioner on the right. The executioner bears a strong resemblance to Thomas Fairfax - who took no part in the trial and execution of the King. A woman faints and others run forward to dip cloth in the 'martyred' king's blood.

Another eye witness recounts that at the moment of the stroke "Such a groan as I never heard before, and desire I may never hear again".

The scene was quickly cleared but not before many of the spectators had rushed forward to dip handkerchiefs in the blood. "King Charles the Martyr" had been created and in old books of Common Prayer you find a service dedicated to King Charles the Martyr to be said on January 30th.

The funeral procession of Charles I

The King's head was reattached to his body, the body embalmed and conveyed to Windsor where he was laid to rest in the vault containing Henry VIII and his wife Jane Seymour. Space had been left for the body of Katherine Parr but as she had remarried and was interred at Sudeley, it left room for King Charles.

News of his father's death did not reach his son, now Charles II,  until February 5. His advisors debated how to tell the young King and in the end his chaplain, Stephen Goffe, was given the task. He entered Charles' room, hesitated, went down on one knee and addressed him as "Your Majesty." Fully understanding the import of those two words, Charles  left the room in tears.

Several books have been devoted to the trial and execution of Charles I and I recommend in particular: CV Wedgwood THE TRIAL OF CHARLES I and the more recent book about the prosecution of the trial by Geoffrey Robertson THE TYRANNICIDE BRIEF. Another interesting book is Jordan and Walsh's book on the fate of the regicides and those who prosecuted him - THE KING'S REVENGE.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Write the Books you love to read - a Writer's Journey with Samanthya Wyatt

I love celebrating new releases - particularly from my historically romantic friends.

Today my guest is Samanthya Wyatt. Samanthya lives with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. She left her accounting career and married a military man traveling and raising her children in the United States and abroad. She loves a good book, a good joke, and her playful, witty husband. She enjoys long walks on the beach, and adores her grandchildren.

She is with me to today to talk about her writing journey and THE TRUE ONE, the second in her One and Only Series (the RIGHT ONE being the first book). The books are set in the 1820s... what we in historical romance might call "later Regency". (I love the excerpt she is sharing with us...but then I am sucker for a wounded hero!)

Thank you Alison, for having me here today. I appreciate your helping me celebrate the release of book 2 in the ‘One and Only Series’.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved curling up with a book. When I was young I wrote poems and short stories. When I graduated, my life changed. I married a military man, traveled across the US and abroad, settled in the Shenandoah Valley and had a family. Then I found romance novels. I fell in love with the characters and needed to know their happy ending.

When I couldn’t afford to buy them, I wrote my own stories. I’ve taken every workshop I could to improve my writing. I’ve entered many contests. I joined RWA and joined several chapters. Savvy Authors offered a pitch contest with several editors, agents and publishers. Coming up with a pitch—25 words or less—is extremely difficult when you’re in a group with thousands of other authors. But I got the attention of 3 editors and two different publishing companies. My dream paid off. I signed my first contract with Soul Mate Publishing.

My characters are fictitious. I have taken real life experiences to achieve the emotion on paper for my characters. I do a lot of research for the time period, studying the lingo / slang and culture. With appropriate details, hopefully I put the reader in the setting.

I find that I get a lot more accomplished if I just sit at the computer and write. As long as I write something, I just keep going. Later I can delete or gather tidbits together. And I have deleted whole chapters. But if I want my story to go somewhere and be a good manuscript, there has to be goal, motivation and conflict (GMC). I learned this from many workshops. I learned how to do character sketches, GMC charts, plots—everything one needs to bring a story together.

My first submission to an editor resulted in a rejection. Being a beginner, I was not surprised. And I didn’t let it get me down. The thing that impressed me the most was a comment—what happened to the brother? She told me the story had holes. All questions needed to be answered.

So I worked on my story, but decided Kat’s brother was a story all by itself.
So the sequel, book 2, is about Kat’s brother. Why he was gone for two years, what happened to him, and a love story all his own.
Is there a book 3? Of course. The third book in the series is about Giles. He was introduced in the first book as Morgan’s best friend—the duke. In the second book, he is asked to rescue Stephen.
My characters in all of my books are fictitious. However, I have taken real life experiences to achieve the emotion for their situations.

Find out what happened to Kat’s brother in the thrilling sequel of the One and Only series


Captain Stephen Radbourn accepts an intriguing proposition which results in horror. His ship in splinters and his men captured, he is a broken man. A band of rebels rescue their leader from a dungeon, taking the near dead captain with them. Fearing capture and thinking the tortured man will die, they leave Stephen in the care of a woman, who he believes is an angel of mercy. A man of passion, with a trail of satisfied maidens to prove it, he finds his heart captured by the lovely widow. But she forces him to choose—her or revenge.

Jennifer Faircloth departed England full of a young girl’s fantasies of romance and adventure. Her young husband dies leaving her a widow to survive alone in a foreign land. When a near death English captain is dropped at her door, memories emerge of the family she foolishly left behind. While caring for him, her curious imagination turns to an overwhelming awareness she cannot deny. He must flee for his life and he takes her with him—back to England—back to the family she’d deserted. She wants her family to forgive her, but she wants Stephen’s love even more.


He was dead.
He had to be. For serenity enclosed him. Fresh air cloaked him. A cloud of softness wrapped him. Comfort would mean he’d gone to heaven, when he had been destined for hell. Slowly, Stephen became aware of soreness, then stinging, then blinding pain. Sure signs of hell.
The lilting voice of an angel drew him to an unbelievable place of calm. The honeyed sound soothed his mind to a state of ease. Alleviating his anxiety. Diminishing his pain. The most enchanting dream he’d ever held.
 He opened his eyes with excruciating sluggishness. The first glimpse of light splintered his skull with a sharp stabbing. He slammed his eyes closed with a long groan. He’d been denied sunlight for so long, he thought never to see the light of day again.
His insides still stuck to his backbone. He breathed as deeply as his broken ribs allowed, then grounded his teeth over the agonizing ache. Slashing pain shot through his jaw stirring more memories. Oh yes. That had been broken too.
A bed? He took a moment to grasp his surroundings. Unfamiliar hands. Gentle hands. He thought he’d felt movement at one time, dreamed he was in a wagon.
 Flashes of torture penetrated his skull—men with curved knives and jeweled handles, shackles, a pit for a prison cell. He struggled with the bonds squeezing him when the sweetest sound of an angel pulled him from the dark fog. Reassuring hands swabbed a wet cloth over his feverish skin and coaxed him to swallow. Blessed relief to his parched lips. Now he lolled in a bed.
With a sense of unease he pondered his situation, wondering what state of play brought him to this consequence. He inhaled, taking in pleasant air. No stench. No slimy creatures. Where was he? At this point he didn’t care. As long as he no longer suffered the Raj’s torture.
Slowly, and more cautious this time, he lifted one lid to a narrow slit. The swelling around his eye had gone down considerably. He glanced down to find a hand-sewn quilt, like the ones his mother made. Definitely a bed. Which also resembled his English heritage. Had he somehow been transported back to England?
He rolled his head against the pillow’s softness. His mind wandered restlessly through a mirage of shadows. His ribs were on fire. He searched the room. A window stood open and the thin covering wavered as if the wind blew gently to make it dance. A crude piece of furniture beyond the bed with items scattered about. To the right a door. He wondered who was on the other side. Friend or adversary? He closed his eyes for a moment, seeking relief. Ignoring the pain in his skull, he turned his head to the right and saw the delicate creature in his dream. An angel of mercy, with dark hair falling about her shoulders. Long sweeping lashes brushed velvety cheeks. Instant awareness surged through his body. At least the devils hadn’t killed that part of him.
On the heels of that thought, he wondered if she were a maid or the wife of some possessive husband. If she were his wife—perish the thought—he would never leave her alone in any room with a strange man, incapacitated or no. Especially not in close proximity of a bed.
And he was naked. Bare as a new baby’s bottom.

Connect with Samanthya on her website here:

THE TRUE one is available from Amazon and all reputable ebook stores.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Solomon Eccles and an interesting use of Chafing dishes - Jessica Cale

I am kicking off the year with a fellow 17th century passionista (my crusade to prove the 17th century is the new Regency appears to be working!).

Welcome to author Jessica Cale, whose debut novel TYBURN (just the very word is evocative) is set in Restoration London. Jessica  is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at 

Jessica is offering a GIVEAWAY of TYBURN! Like her on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and leave a comment here but don't forget to say that you read about the GIVEAWAY here... 

As you know I ask my guests to share a tid bit of interesting research they discovered in writing their book and, if possible, to show how it is reflected in the book itself. 

Jessica's Friday Fun Fact is on an interesting Restoration sight (rather than the person himself)... Solomon Eccles. Thanks for a fascinating post, Jessica!

Solomon Eccles

 Westminster Hall was a popular place to shop in Restoration London. It shared its space with the law courts, and the heads of Cromwell and two of his generals were displayed there until the 1680s. Perhaps the most memorable sight there, however, was Solomon Eccles. Eccles, sometimes known as Solomon Eagle, was a composer and a Quaker who began to appear in Westminster Hall as early as 1665. Spurred on by the plague, he urged shoppers (and presumably lawyers) to repent.

Solomon Eccles - modesty preserved...

Daniel Defoe mentioned him in A Journal of a Plague Year:  “He, though not infected at all but in his head, went about denouncing of judgment upon the city in a frightful manner, sometimes quite naked, and with a pan of burning charcoal on his head. What he said, or pretended, indeed I could not learn.”

Pepys came into contact with him on July 29th, 1667, writing: “One thing extraordinary was, this day a man, a Quaker, came naked through the Hall, only very civilly tied about the privities to avoid scandal, and with a chafing-dish of fire and brimstone burning upon his head, did pass through the hall crying, ‘Repent! Repent!’”

Eccles was arrested in Southwark in 1665 and briefly imprisoned. He burned his music, but had two sons who also became composers. He died in Spitalfields in 1682.

READ AN EXCERPT FROM TYBURN (featuring and encounter with Mr. Eccles...)

“Repent! Repent!”
Wrath was taken aback as a man leapt before him, naked as the day he was born, with a chafing dish of smoking brimstone on his head. His face was red with heat and pain, his features contorted into an expression of ecstatic madness. “Repent!” He cried as he rushed through the crowd.
Most of the shoppers paid him little heed as he ran between them. They averted their eyes at his nudity, stepping out of the way of any cinders falling out of the chafing dish in his wake. He ran to the end of the hall and back again, shouting, “Repent! Repent!”
Wrath increased his pace. He was nearly out of the hall and Charlie waited with his carriage in the street outside. He’d had quite enough madness for one day.
The man crossed Wrath’s path once again, and he stopped so abruptly that the chafing dish flew from his head and extinguished itself on the floor. He stood in Wrath’s long shadow, his red face glistening with sweat. His mouth hung open slightly, and he stared at Wrath as if he could see into his soul. It was unsettling, to say the least.
Wrath cleared his throat. “I suppose you’re going to tell me to repent?”
The man’s face twitched. He sat on the floor beside the chafing dish, covered his eyes, and began to weep.
Wrath felt a chill go down his spine but dismissed it. He pushed the man out of his way with the end of his polished black cane and walked through the exit. “Bloody lunatics.”


Sally Green is about to die.

She sees Death in the streets. She can taste it in her gin. She can feel it in the very walls of the ramshackle brothel where she is kept to satisfy the perversions of the wealthy. She had come to London as a runaway in search of her Cavalier father. Instead, she found Wrath, a sadistic nobleman determined to use her to fulfill a sinister ambition. As the last of her friends are murdered one by one, survival hinges on escape.

Nick Virtue is a tutor with a secret. By night he operates as a highwayman, relieving nobles of their riches to further his brother’s criminal enterprise. It’s a difficult balance at the best of times, and any day that doesn’t end in a noose is a good one. Saving Sally means risking his reputation, and may end up costing him his life.

As a brutal attack throws them together, Sally finds she has been given a second chance. She is torn between the tutor and the highwayman, but she knows she can have neither. Love is an unwanted complication while Wrath haunts the streets. Nick holds the key to Wrath’s identity, and Sally will risk everything to bring him to justice.
Unless the gallows take her first.
Buy TYBURN from ALL reputable ebook stores:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and if you go direct to Liquid Silver there is 25% off until Jan 31

Connect with Jessica Cale: 

Twitter: @JessicaCale


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An Award Nomination to start the year...

What a wonderful start to the year... an award nomination for LORD SOMERTON'S HEIR.

The Australian Romance Readers Awards are always very special because the nominations come directly from the readers themselves, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to receive a nomination for my regency romantic suspense, LORD SOMERTON'S HEIR.  Of course I am in very distinguished company but this really is one occasion where just receiving a nomination is a reward in itself.

The Awards are announced at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra in March.

A list of all finalists is HERE and if you are a member of ARRA and loved this book, please give it a vote! (it is also on a lowered price on Amazon at the moment!)


Can the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice. 

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton. 

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Aussie Writers Month! $1000 cash give away...

January in Australia and here in Melbourne, the temperatures are starting to climb with 39 deg C predicted today and 41 tomorrow. So while those of you in the northern hemisphere are tucked up in your winter woollies, downunder it is beach time (and cricket and tennis). 

Winter reading or summer reading, Australia is producing some fabulous romance writers and I am delighted to be part of a month long promotion of Aussie writers by AusRom Today - a blog site dedicated to getting the word out to the world that Australian Romance Writers Rock.

Best of all there is $1000 worth of cash prizes on offer by way of Rafflecopter entry.  All you have to do is visit the AUSROM TODAY Facebook  page to enter.  Click HERE... 

- The prizes are: 1st = $700, 2nd = $200, 3rd = $100. CASH!
- Entry is via Rafflecopter on the AusRom Today FB page. Just click on the  'GIVEAWAY' tab at the top of the page.
- Entry comprises two required tasks (completing a 10 question survey - more on this below) and a subscription plus two optional tasks which are Tweet/Share options. 

How easy is that?

And if you want to visit my contribution... you will find it HERE. Call by and leave a comment :-)  (and as a bonus you get a sneak peek at the new cover for my March release BY THE SWORD)