Stumbling around EEBO looking for some more of the parliamentarian take on Charles II after the battle of Worcester, I came across this anti-Stuart broadside, printed by Robert Ibbitson after the battle. It’s a fascinating little title and crams in a goodly amount of Republican ire into one pamphlet.
The central image conflates death with monarchy.
The caption reads:
Whilst on this figure,
Thou shalt fix thine eye,
Learne theise two lessons,
Howe to Live to Dye.
Death’s proclamation is a message against the presumptions of monarchs to rule, when in fact only Death (the great leveler) rules over men in the end. The threat is clear, the defeat at Worcester demonstrates that Charles, the newly crowned King of Scotland, will meet the fate of all other Kings who try to usurp death by taking the throne.
This broadside draws on striking apocalyptic imagery that would have been familiar to people in the mid-Seventeenth century. The point is forced home by use of a rather tenuous arithmetical model, identifying Charles II with the numbers 666 and therefore as ‘the beast’ from the Book of Revelation (thereby adding Charles to the list of other ‘things carrying the mark of the beast’ alongside the Pope, Kaiser Wilhelm and oddly enough barcodes).
Another notable thing is the emphasis on Charles as the King of Scots, a point drawn on in other contemporary writings. Most studies of the battle of Worcester point out that Charles’ failure to recruit significant English fighters enabled the government to portray it as a foreign invasion and further weakened Charles’ attempts to gain popular support.
It is milked here for all its worth in the long list of Scots Kings that died violently:
The list itself makes for morbid reading, here are the top Scottish King deaths:
King Alexander the Third – Killed with a fall from his horse
King Donald the Seventh – Cast into prison with his eyes put out
King Donald the Fifth – Killed himself
King Fergus – Poisoned by his wife
King Maldxin (?) – Murdered and cast into a privy
King Ferquerd (?) – Killed by a wolf
and surely the worst:
King Kenneth – Murdered by a Scottish woman
Clearly, the victory over the would be King of England itself was not enough of a deterrent and the brush with monarchy, no matter how perfunctory, had opened wounds. Pamphlets such as this demonstrate that the government felt a need to drive the Republican message home in the strongest terms possible. While the King was at large he was a threat.