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Vol. XVIII, no. 1 TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition November 2005

Friends Gift to Special Collections

By Roger Rainwater

The board of the Friends of the TCU Library agreed at its November 8th meeting to purchase as the Friends 2006 annual gift to Special Collections, a copy of Vindiciae Carolinae: Or, a defence of Eikon Basilike, printed in London in 1692. The work, attributed to John Wilson, seventeenth-century playwright and lawyer, is a chapter-by-chapter reply to John Milton’s Eikonoklastes (1649). There is a copy of the Eikonoklastes in the Lewis Collection and Wilson’s work is a particularly apt addition. This copy of the Vindiciae Carolinae is in an early full speckled leather binding with red speckled edges and contains the seventeenth-century bookplate of Francis Fulford of Fulford.

The Eikon Basilike, subtitled “the Portraiture of his Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings,” was an extremely popular work believed to be the spiritual autobiography of King Charles I written while awaiting trial and execution at the hands of the Parliamentarians. It was issued within days of the king’s beheading and ran to many editions and translations. Because it presented such a favorable portrait of King Charles, Milton was assigned to reply to it. He wrote, “A book appeared . . . which was ascribed to the king, and contained the most invidious charges against the parliament. I was ordered to answer it . . . I did not insult over fallen majesty, as is pretended; I only preferred queen Truth to king Charles.” Wilson sought to defend Charles and his book against the charges of the image smasher. He begins by charging that Milton’s motive in writing the Eikonoklastes was simply “to justify the unparallell’d Villainies of his own time . . . Wherein the best of Monarchies was shook to pieces, by the worst of Men . . .”

Many thanks to the Friends for their continuing generosity.

Vindiciae Carolinae: Or, a defence of Eikon BasilikeImage: Vindiciae Carolinae: Or, a defence of Eikon Basilike .