Eikon basilike

About this text

Introductory notes

Eikon Basilike, or the royal image, is the celebrated spiritual autobiography of Charles I. It was published in early 1649, some 10 days after the execution of the King on January 31, 1649. The work however bears the date 1648. The authorship has been disputed, and sometimes attributed to John Gauden, Bishop of Exeter. There are also supporters of the theory that the work is substantially the work of Charles. The work was enormously popular and went into 35 editions in London itself within the year.

Eikon basilike,
His Sacred

ROM. 8.
More then Conquerour, &c.
Bona agree, & mala pati, Regium est.



[Page 215]

O thou Sun of righteousnesse, thou sacred Fountaine of heavenly light and heat, at once cleare and warme my heart, both by instructing of me, and interceding for me: In thee is all fulnesse: From thee all-sufficiency: By thee is all acceptance. Thou art company enough, and comfort enough: Thou art my King, be also my Prophet and my Priest. Rule me, teach me, pray in me, for me; and be thou ever with me.

The single wrestlings of Jacob prevailed with thee, in that sacred Duell, when he had none to second him but thy selfe; who didst assist him with power to overcome thee, and by a welcome violence to wrest a blessing from thee.

O look on me thy Servant, in infinite mercy, whom thou didst once blesse with the joynt and sociated Devotions of others, whose fervency might inflame the coldnesse of my affections towards thee; when we went to, or met in thy House with the voice of joy and gladnesse, worshipping thee in the unity of spirits, and with the bond of Peace.

O forgive the neglect, and not improving of those happy opportunities.

It is now thy pleasure that I should be as a Pelican in the wildernesse, as a Sparrow on the house top, and as a coale scattered from all those pious glowings, and devout reflections, which might [Page 216] best kindle, preserve, and encrease the holy fire of thy graces on the Altar of my heart, whence the sacrifice of prayers, and incense of praises, might be duly offered up to thee.

Yet O thou that breakest not the bruized Reed, nor quenchest the smoaking Flax, doe not despise the weaknesse of my prayers, nor the smotherings of my soule in this uncomfortable lonenesse; to which I am constrained by some mens uncharitable denialls of those helps, which I much want, and no lesse desire.

O let the hardnesse of their hearts occasion the softnings of mine to thee, and for Them. Let their hatred kindle my love, let their unreasonable denials of my Religious desires the more excite my prayers to thee. Let their inexorable deafnesse encline thine eare to me; who art a God easie to be entreated; thine eare is not heavy, that it cannot, nor thy heart hard, that it will not heare; nor thy hand shortned, that it cannot help Me thy desolate Supplyant.

Thou permittest men to deprive me of those outward means, which thou hast appointed in thy Church; but they cannot debarre me from the communion of that inward grace, which thou alone breathest into humble hearts.

O make me such, and thou wilt teach me; thou wilt heare me, thou wilt help me: The broken and contrite heart I know thou wilt not despise. Thou, O Lord canst at once make me thy Temple, [Page 217] thy Priest, thy Sacrifice, and thine Altar; while from an humble heart I (alone) daily offer up in holy meditations, fervent prayers, and unfeigned teares my self to thee; who preparest me for thee, dwellest in me, and acceptest of me.

Thou O Lord didst cause by secret supplies and miraculous infusions, that the handfull of meale in the vessell should not spend, nor the little oyle in the cruise fayle the Widow during the time of drought and dearth.

O look on my soul, which as a Widow, is now desolate & forsaken: let not those saving Truths I have formerly learned now fail my memory; nor the sweet effusions of thy Spirit, which I have sometime felt, now be wanting to my heart in this famine of ordinary and wholsome food for the refreshing of my Soule.

Which yet I had rather chuse than to feed from those hands who mingle my bread with ashes, and my wine with gall; rather tormenting, than teaching me; whose mouths are proner to bitter reproaches of me, than to hearty prayers for me.

Thou knowest, O Lord of truth, how oft they wrest thy holy Scriptures to My destruction, (which are cleare for their subjection, and my preservation) O let it not be to their damnation.

Thou knowest how some men (under colour of long prayers) have sought to devoure the houses of their Brethren, their King, and their God.

O let not those mens balmes break my head, nor [Page 218] their Cordialls oppresse my heart, I will evermore pray against their wickednesse.

From the poyson under their tongues, from the snares of their lips, from the fire, and the swords of their words ever deliver Me, O Lord, and all those Loyall and Religious hearts, who desire and delight in the prosperity of my soul, and who seek by their prayers to relieve this sadnesse, and solitude of thy servant, O my King and my God.

This is a selection from the original text


broken, loneliness, meal, prayer, suffering, supplies

Source text

Title: Eikon basilike, The pourtraicture of His Sacred Majestie in his solitudes and sufferings

Author: Charles I, King of England

Publication date: 1648

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: Wing / E268 Bibliographic name / number: Almack. Bibl. of the King's book / 1 Bibliographic name / number: Madan, F.F. New bibl. of the Eikon basilike / 1, issue 2 Physical description: [8], 269 p., 1 folded leaf of plates : Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: Wing / 182:16

Digital edition

Original author(s): Charles I, King of England

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page
  • 2 ) prayer (pp.215-218)


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > non-fiction prose > politics and governance

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.