Banqueting House

London, United Kingdom

Banqueting House


The execution of Charles I by beheading occurred on Tuesday 30 January 1649 outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall. The execution was the culmination of political and military conflicts between the royalists and the parliamentarians in England during the English Civil War, leading to the capture and trial of Charles I. On Saturday 27 January 1649, the parliamentarian High Court of Justice had declared Charles guilty of attempting to "uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people" and he was sentenced to death.

Charles spent his last few days in St James's Palace, accompanied by his most loyal subjects and visited by his family. On 30 January, he was taken to a large black scaffold constructed in front of the Banqueting House, where he was to be executed. A large crowd had gathered to witness the regicide. Charles stepped onto the scaffold and gave his last speech, declaring his innocence of the crimes of which parliament had accused him, and claiming himself as a "martyr of the people". The crowd could not hear the speech, owing to the many parliamentarian guards blocking the scaffold, but Charles' companion, Bishop William Juxon, recorded it in shorthand. Charles gave a few last words to Juxon, claiming his "incorruptible crown" in Heaven, and put his head on the block. He waited a few moments and gave a signal; the anonymous executioner beheaded Charles in one clean blow and held Charles' head up to the crowd silently, dropping it into the swarm of soldiers soon after.

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