King of England Charles I
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The Eikon Basilike (Greek: 'Royal Portrait'), The Pourtrature of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings, was a purported spiritual autobiography attributed to King Charles I of England. It was published on 9 February 1649, ten days after the King was beheaded by Parliament in the aftermath of the English Civil War in 1649. Written in a simple, moving, and straightforward style in the form of a diary, the book combines irenic prayers urging the forgiveness of Charles's executioners with a justification of royalism and the King's political and military programme that led to the Civil War. It is by no means certain that Charles wrote the book. After the Restoration, John Gauden, bishop of Worcester, claimed to have written it. Scholars continue to disagree about the merits of this claim, though assuming that if Gauden wrote it, he had access to Charles's papers when he did so. Jeremy Taylor is also said to have had a hand in its revision, and to be the source of its title; an earlier draft bore the name Suspiria Regalia, the 'Royal Sighs'. Whoever wrote the Eikon Basilike, its author was an effective prose stylist, one who had partaken deeply of the solemn yet simple eloquence of Anglican piety as expressed in Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. The end result is an image of a steadfast monarch who, while admitting his weaknesses, declares the truth of his religious principles and the purity of his political motives, while trusting in God despite adversity. Charles's chief weakness, it says, was in yielding to Parliament's demands for the head of the Earl of Strafford; for this sin, Charles paid with his throne and his life. Its portrait of Charles as a martyr invited comparison of the King to Jesus.