London: n.p., 1649. 12mo. [viii], 436 pp. One of nearly 50 editions printed in 1649. Complete with the folding engraved frontispiece of the king in prayer, engraved portrait of the Prince of Wales, woodcut of arms on verso of title page, and all blanks. Contemporary calf, blind-stamped fleurons in corners; marbled paste-downs and endpapers, overall in amazingly excellent condition. Several inscriptions and annotations on the end-papers in at least 4 different hands, including annotations on the first 2 leaves, ownership inscription (“Ex Libri R Tre_ _ or_ | L Cod.Exon. Ox_ 1704”), inscription of Tho. Kent on verso of second leaf, “Anna Vyvyan | her Book 170_ | & Hand | Pen” in black ink on the verso of the frontispiece, and a Latin inscription with flourishes in brown ink dated “Anno Domini millo septiagentimo quadrigentimoque” (1740) on the recto of the first endpaper following the text. Item #17466
One of nearly fifty editions printed in 1649, as early as ten days following the beheading of Charles I on January 31 of that year. Even though Oliver Cromwell and the Long Parliament had succeeded in dismantling the monarchy, the execution of Charles I was met with disapproval and protest. Eikon Basilike presented the king as a suffering martyr, which was further emphasized in the engraved frontispiece of the monarch in prayer surrounded by saintly attributes. In this copy, the engraving made by William Marshall is completely intact. Although it was initially held that Charles I himself was the author of the book, John Milton famously questioned the authenticity of this claim in his Iconoclastes (1649). The bibliographer Falconer Madan was the first to suggest that it was written by John Gauden (1605-62), the bishop of Worcester and a Royalist, with some authentic passages from the king. In a letter dated to 1660/1, he confessed that he was the inventor of the “Eicon” under the promise of secrecy.
This copy also contains four very interesting inscriptions from the early to mid-1700s. Notably, on the verso of the engraving, a young Anna Vyvyan (born c. 1700), daughter of Sir Rchard Vyvyan, 3rd Baronet and Dame Mary Vyvyan in Cornwall, wrote that it the text was her book, hand, and pen.