King Charles II was crowned on 23 April 1661, a date noted by Pepys in his diary in subsequent years.
Coronation Day (Charles II)
Terry Foreman • Link
A Circumstantial account of the preparations for the coronation of His Majesty King Charles the Second and a minute detail of that splendid ceremony, with all the particulars connected with it; including the enstallation of knights, creation of peers, etc., to which is prefixed, an account of the landing,reception, and journey of His Majesty from Dover to London. From an original manuscript/ by Sir Edward Walker, Knight.
San Diego Sarah • Link
On this Coronation Day, 362 years later, I found one article that adds to our heap of Pepys-related knowledge:
With the arrival of the Stuarts in 1603, the Coronation Oath was to dramatically return to the center of the stage. James I and VI, who fervently believed and enunciated the Divine Right of Kings, had no difficulty in taking the oath but gave it his own gloss. In it, he wrote, the king ‘makes not his Crown stoup by this means to any power in the Pope, or in the Church, or in the People.’ The inclusion of the last named spelt out that the King and Parliament were on a collision course.
For King James, the king was the people’s overlord by birth ‘not by any right in the Coronation, commeth his crowne’ and so ‘it is like vnlawful… to displace him’. Indeed, it was rumored that his successor, King Charles I, wished to dispense with the Coronation all together so that he could ‘remain more absolute, avoiding the obligation to swear to the laws and without the discontent of his subjects’.
In this way, the Coronation Oath touched the heart of the constitutional conflict of the 17th century. In King Charles’ eyes, the oath was taken to God. For the republican opposition, it was one taken to the people, an oath that, once broken by the monarch, dissolved any obligation between the parties. In this light, the execution of the king was the outcome.
Although the Restoration of 1660 would seem to signal a return to early-Stuart mystical kingship, in the long run, that didn’t occur. Thanks to the rise to power of Parliament, new vigor was infused into the idea that the king was subject to the law and owed duties to his subjects.
That clash was to reach crisis point in the Revolution of 1688. As so often occurs in English history, what was a revolutionary position was to be dressed up in the pageantry of the medieval past. James II, who was ousted from the throne in favor of his daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, was said to have ‘abdicated’ and, as the throne was vacant, it was offered to the couple by Parliament.
In January 1689, Parliament passed the Declaration of Rights, which framed what was, in essence, the principles of a constitutional monarchy of a kind that is still with us today. The Coronation Oath lay at the heart of this. The ruler was to be bound to observe the ancient laws of the realm, known as the laws of St. Edward, and also those that Parliament would make in the future. The latter was a radical reinterpretation of part of the Latin text of the oath, which refers to quas vulgus elegerit.
In the Coronation Oath that was used in 1689, any reference to ancient custom in the form of the Laws of St. Edward vanishes in favor of the philosopher John Locke’s position that the ultimate guarantee of protection against a sovereign lay in the principles of nature and reason which, both being outside the confines of history, were eternal.
San Diego Sarah • Link
What is so striking about this concept, the fruits of a view of the universe that was no longer mystical and hermetic but mechanistic, were to be enshrined in what remained a medieval ritual. In this way, the oath remains the foundation, even in 2013, of the post-1688 state.
Add to that the displacement in the oath of Holy Church by the phrase ‘the Protestant Reformed Religion Established by Law’. To reinforce that no monarch would ever again be Catholic, there was a separate Declaration, which was incorporated into the Coronation service. It was violently anti-Catholic and was first used at the Coronation of Queen Anne in 1702.
Complex although this may seem, the Coronation Oath remains at the core of the British Constitution and belies anyone who regards the splendors of Coronation as nothing more than empty display. It is the foundation stone of the British system of government.
Highlights excerpted from
Do you think Charles II took his oath seriously? Me neither.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.
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