Charles, King and Martyr

je suis charlie

On this day, the Scottish Episcopal Church remembers Charles I – the king who was beheaded on this day in Whitehall in 1649.

There’s always services organised in Scotland to remember Charles. The Scottish Episcopal Church was strongly aligned in the Jacobite cause in times gone by.

I tend to remember this day not merely in terms of thinking about Charles but in terms of thinking about the violence and persecution that Episcopalians in Glasgow once suffered. (And also when they got the chance, doled out to others).

There was a time when Episcopalians could not worship terribly freely in this city and the congregation that was to become the congregation that I serve now knew real hardship. If you go to the Mitchell Library you can find ballads in song books celebrating the rabbling of the Episcopal place of worship – something which tended to happen at this time of year and which was almost certainly connected with the congregation remembering Charles and the Stuart cause.

Rabbling wasn’t much fun. It meant the destruction of the place of the worship and the scattering of the congregation. It was akin in its day to firebombing a mosque or a church these days.

In remembering Charles, I remember all those in this city of any faith who have been persecuted through the ages. I remember too those who kept the faith of my own congregation and eventually built a spectacular church in the respectable West End of the city – no doubt celebrating the fact that they were free to worship the way they wanted to at last. And I remember those who still do not have religious liberty today.

And I remember Charles’s words on the day they killed him too.

Introth, Sirs, My Conscience in Religion, I think, is very well knowne to all the World; and, therefore, I declare before you all that I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my father…

I go from a corruptible, to an incorruptible Crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the World.



  1. Richard says

    I’m sure he participated in a fair share of corruption and persecution. It’s hard to imagine otherwise from a monarch who believed in the divine right of kings. I’ve never been sure if Scotland celebrates him in remembering, or simply remembers a key catalyst in the events of his world. He was an interesting topic of conversation in the Highlands when I was younger, that’s for sure.

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