John Gauden: Eikon Basilike

(406 words)

Eikon Basilike (“The image of the king”) was published within a few days of the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649. It immediately became one of the great publishing successes of the seventeenth century, with thirty-five London editions in 1649.

It offers, in the voice of the imprisoned king, a sentimental and self-exonerating account of his rule, and particularly of his conflict with the parliament. Interspersed in this narrative are prayers and meditations (a later edition included a prayer taken from Sidney's Arcadia, a plagiarism notoriously exposed in Milton's Eikonoklastes). The story as it is told by Charles – or by the ventriloquist behind him – is a struggle between a …

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Raymond, Joad. "Eikon Basilike". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 March 2001
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]