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Eikon Basilike

Eikon Basilike (ī´kŏn bəsĬl´Ĭkē) [Gr.,=royal image], subtitled "the Portraiture of His Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings," a work published soon after the execution of Charles I of England in 1649. It purports to be the king's spiritual autobiography. Written in simple, direct, and moving language, it ran into many editions and was translated into several languages. After the Restoration, John Gauden claimed authorship of the book, and this claim is still a subject of scholarly controversy. Because of the favorable image it created of the king, John Milton was assigned by the regicides to reply to it, which he did in his Eikonoklastes (1649). The name is also spelled Icon Basilike and Ikon Basilike.

See edition by P. A. Knachel (1966); bibliography by F. F. Madan (1950).

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Eikon basilike

Eikon basilike or King's Book was one of the most successful books ever published and established Charles I's reputation as a martyr. It came out within hours of the king's execution in January 1649 and was a strange mixture of prayer and political commentary. Forty-six editions are said to have been called for within a year. Though purporting to be by the king, authorship was later claimed by John Gauden, appointed bishop of Exeter and then Worcester after the Restoration on the strength of it. Perhaps the greatest impact was made by a woodcut as frontispiece showing Charles at his devotions.

J. A. Cannon

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Eikon Basilike

Eikon Basilike a book, published about the date of his execution (1649), claiming to be meditations by Charles I, and for a long time so regarded; the title is Greek, and means literally ‘royal image’. It was exceedingly popular, going through 49 editions, to the extent that a reply by Parliament was thought necessary, and Eikonoklastes published in the same year.

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