Friday, 5 July 2013

Regicide


Yesterday, July 4th, my American (born in New England) friend sat around in the pub as usual, getting mildly drunk like the rest of us and trying to keep a low-profile whilst quietly celebrating the capture of an entire colony from George the Third - all the time surrounded by Redcoats.

He need not have worried though, as it all happened a long time ago, and I for one have long-since put down my musket and embraced the Special Relationship with our cousins over the water.

Because his bosses are in the USA, he pays taxes to the U.S. government, so it is only fair that he can take the day off whilst working in The Old Country. A few years ago, fireworks could be seen and heard coming from the American Museum just outside Bath on the 4th of July, but I don't think they can afford them any longer, what with the cutbacks.

They used to have (American) Civil War reenactments up there too - someone even got properly killed when the tip of a ramrod snapped off unnoticed when loading a musket with black powder and no shot.

Our (much older, I'll have you know) Civil War saw quite a few battles around the Bath area, one of them on Lansdown being quite decisive. Bath was a Royalist stronghold - surprise surprise - but was not completely sacked by the Parliamentarians after victory.

There are a few churches around here with the 17th century tombs of noblemen labelled as 'Regicide'. These were the few men who signed the death-warrant for Charles the 1st, and sent him off to have his head removed.

He wore a very nice shirt for his execution (see above) and it can be seen on display at nearby Longleat House - complete with faded bloodstains.

The neck of the shirt is stitched with a row of very small buttons, but they would not have needed to undo them to take it off when it was all over.

7 comments:

  1. Just think, if they'd stayed as a UK colony, they could now be filled with Indians (not red), Pakistanis, Welsh, and even Bosnians.

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    1. Let me guess... UKIP voter, or maybe BNP?

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  2. Did you really need to put in that last grisly paragraph Tom??

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  3. Beheading was a not unusual punishment, especially among the nobility. Common criminals were more generally hung, or worse, I believe, although I cannot cite a reference for that fact. So, moving on to the shirt and the executioner, it is a beautiful piece of damask, and apparently not one thread cut by the ax.

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    1. Beheading was considered too good for commoners, who were hanged if a bit naughty, but hung, drawn and quartered if they were very naughty.

      Jack Ketch was not only the name of a pirate from the Johnny Depp films, but the most inept executioner in London at the time. Henry V111 brought in a French swordsman just to top Anne Boleyn.

      Jack Ketch once held up the head of a victim for the crowd to see, then dropped it through sheer clumsiness. Someone shouted out, "Butter-fingers!" True story.

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