30 January 2017

Remembering the Martyr-King

Today we honour the memory of the only person ever to be sainted by the Church of England. On the thirtieth of January, 1649, King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland was martyred by the rogue Parliament under Oliver Cromwell, signalling the imposition over the British Isles of the first modern dictatorship. As I wrote then, and mean every word of it to this day:
Through the Divines who to this day carry Blessed King Charles’s name, he was also a champion of a more just and more egalitarian social order than the one portended by the rise of the Puritans. His Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, fought the enclosures movement in the Court of Star Chamber; he championed the Poor Laws to provide state relief and jobs for those victimised by enclosure; he promoted an economic policy of firm economic regulation through the patents system and through Crown monopolies (the beginnings of a modern ethos of public ownership); and he was a dedicated patron of the fine arts, in, as Fr. John Alexander of Providence, RI put it: ‘[witness] in a thoroughly medieval way against the stark utilitarianism of the Puritans who condemned such pursuits as so much frivolity’.

The fight King Charles I waged against the economic anarchy which was fast congealing into a spirit of greed, Mammon-worship and primitive capitalism was far from an unconscious or merely self-interested one, in spite of the claims of Puritan-sympathetic Whig historians to the contrary. Indeed, his fight was expressly one oriented to what he saw as the common good of the kingdoms he ruled, as against the abuse he witnessed against farmers and tradesmen by a rising capitalist class.

The veneration of Blessed King Charles thus does not solely represent an earnest desire and thankfulness for the continuation of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in England, but also the hope that a more just social order marked by reciprocity and mutual giving might be realised over-against the ruthless and anti-human logics of the market and of naked power.
To this also may be added, that Alexis Mikhailovich Romanov, the Orthodox Tsar of Russia, in an act without parallel elsewhere on the Continent, reacted to the death of his fellow monarch with a great intensity of feeling. He kicked the representatives of the Muscovy Company out of the country, initiated a Russian boycott of goods produced under Cromwell’s government, threw open the doors of hospitality to Royalist refugees and their families who fled England, and personally offered monetary assistance to ‘the disconsolate widow of that glorious martyr’, Charles’s queen Henrietta Maria. The high crime of regicide which was perpetrated upon the person of King Charles did not concern Englishmen only, but indeed affected the Orthodox world as well, as the swift and uncompromising response of the pious Tsar of Russia bears witness.


  1. It's cool that you are Orthodox and I'm Catholic and we are both celebrating an Anglican king today.

  2. Indeed! Royalism brings together all faith traditions.

  3. Are there books about Charles I which you would recommend ?