What Pegman Saw : An incorruptible crown

The morning is bitter, hard as only January can be.

Even here in London, far from the fens, the forests, the mist-heavy marshes of my varied Kingdom, ice forms on every sill, beards the wherries as they pull and pause on the troubled waters of the Thames. The lamps burn brighter when the morning is frost-hard.

I must make ready, but the day is bone cold … What if I shiver on that cursed step that waits for me? What if the people believe I quake from terror at my own fall?

For in truth, I am unafraid. I give up a tarnished crown for one incorruptible.

And yet, there is the cold … I shall wear two shirts. They will preserve my body until … Until there is nothing of this body left to save.

I hear another wherry – it is time.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Historical notes.

For those unaware of the fact, England has not had an uninterrupted monarchy.

During the 17th century there was a rebellion, a war largely caused by religion (the threat of Catholicism returning to what was by then a Protestant nation) but also by a poverty stricken king (Charles I) who wanted free access to the nation’s wealth without the inconvenience of asking for it. So he abolished government and raided the coffers.

After some prevarication, the English Civil Wars began and continued on and off for nine years. The rebels won, the king was eventually seized and executed at Westminster, London in January 1649. The country was a republic for eleven years until the restoration of the monarchy in the form of Charles’s son, Charles II in 1660.

On his long journey to the scaffold, Charles I was held at Carisbrooke Castle – from where he tried to escape at least twice. And come the January day of his execution he famously wore two shirts to stave off the cold so he wouldn’t be seen to shiver.



19 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : An incorruptible crown

  1. What an excellent imagining of the thoughts of the doomed monarch. Pride, resignation, identification with the nation, and the practicalities of being warm enough so as not to seem fearful. And your description of the scene in London.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, thank you Penny! I was surprised at how sympathetic this came out, because Charles I really is an infuriating character. Just like Nicholas II of Russia, they were both blinded by this idea of Absolute Monarchy, of the Divine Right of Kings being more important than the wealth, health and well being of their own citizens. Foolish, misguided men who might both have lived longer had they seen how their countries had changed around them. Interesting people, but flawed in the extreme. Thank you so much for reading and for the kind comment


  2. I like that it feels like your posts are becoming more prosaic, “prosey.” All these monarchs get confused for me; we learned a good deal about many of them but in a compressed space of time, and now I can’t distinguish any. But I see to recall a place called The King’s Head in Galway, and seem to believe it was named after one of these Charleses, who looked French, and reminded me of a Cajun friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could well be one of the Charleses – we’ve only had two (I think after the first one, Charles was considered an unlucky regnal name, being the only king we’ve tried for treasin and publicly executed!) And yes, they do look Frenchified – all that poodle hair and satin and frou frous. So all you have to remember with these two is, one was a foolish, pigheaded man who believed in the divine right of kings and the second one brought back theatre, Christmas, had lots of illigitimate children by a lot of mistresses, hence his nick name of the Merry Monarch.
      And thank you for the kind comment – somethings work better without the poetics 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure if the current Prince Charles gains the throne he’ll be a Charles either. IF he gets to the throne and it doesn’t just go straight to his son.


    1. Ha! Yes, I surprised myself there, as I’ve never had much sympathy for him in the past. An idiot who couldn’t see which way the social wind was blowing and brought his own demise largely on himself, much as Nicholas II of Russia did. So much for the Divine Right of Kings. Thank you Jane


  3. Dear Lynn,

    Wonderfully rendered. Like an Old Master’s painting, your descriptions, as always, are magnificent. Not to mention, I learned a new word. Wherry. Thank you for a beautiful read and an a bit of education.



    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, Rochelle. I do love that word, wherry. They were the taxi cabs of their day, scudding up and down the Thames and its arteries, at one time more commonly used than wheeled transport for getting about the city. How I would have loved to have travelled the river like that! Oh, for a working Tardis. Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the mist-heavy marshes of my varied Kingdom, ice forms on every sill, beards the wherries as they pull and pause on the troubled waters of the Thames – YUM!!

    This is just beautiful – ‘nuf said.

    Liked by 2 people

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