He was 4’-8” tall at his coronation in 1626.
His tallest height was 5’-4” tall, which was somewhat short for the times.
They say he had chestnut color hair, which is sort of a brownish red.
The paintings of King Charles I seem to show that he wore a ruffle til the early-mid 1620’s at least. Here’s a picture of Charles, with a ruffle, in 1625 by Daniel Mytens:
After that he wore a laced collar. It also shows that his hair was somewhat short while wearing the ruffle. When he went to the laced collar he let his hair grow long, at least to shoulder length. Apparently, in the 1630’s he did let it grow to the small of his back at times.
The paintings also show he wore an earring in his left ear. This always appears to be a pearl earring, except for some paintings when he was young which shows a ring. He wore an earring at an early age, about 10 or so.
King Charles started to grow his moustache and pointed beard in the mid 1620’s (his mid 20’s). He had it until his death.
Beginning at Carisbrooke Castle in 1647, King Charles’ refused to be shaved. This was because Parliament dismissed his barber. He did not want a Parliamentary appointed barber to shave him. Whether this was out of fear of being assasinated or just rebelling against Parliament is unclear. His beard is shown below in the painting that shows King Charles at his trial:
A number of paintings show King Charles I with his Order of the Garter (with medal of St. George) being worn over his neck and shoulder, much like a slash. This was normally worn around the neck. This is shown in picture below by Daniel Mytens:
One of his first acts as king was to get rid of the loafers, etc. that hung around Whitehall palace. Shortly afterwords, he had court etiquette examined and altered (March 1629).
King Charles was very interested in the welfare of the court and court life. He made many rules to govern how the court was to be regulated and expected people to behave themselves in a proper way. He reinstalled court etiquette and manners into the English court life demanding, for example, that people serve him on bended knee.
King Charles was very interested in the welfare of his servants and often would do things on their behalf.
King Charles seemed to be something of a ‘matchmaker’, recommending this person to marry that person oftentimes.
There has been speculation that King Charles I and the Duke of Buckingham may have been homosexuals but there is no evidence of this. It appears to be ‘court gossip’.
There is no evidence that King Charles had any mistresses or any affairs or associations with females other than his wife. As a result, no scandal ever arose surrounding King Charles.
In 1647, at Carisbrooke Castle, King Charles seemed to find great interest in a 30 year old women named Jane Whorwhood. His letters seemed to show he had a great love for her. It is doubtful that he had anything like an affair, though he seemed to complain of her ‘platonic love’. This was a period of time of great stress and loneliness for King Charles. No doubt her presence helped ease his pain and loneliness.
It was said that he wasn’t very good at associating with females.
Unfortunately, it appears that King Charles was very lazy when it came to the government. He tended to not see to its affairs as much as he should of and never really worked hard for it.
John Milton said that the only vice in King Charles was reading too much Shakespeare.
King Charles tended to be shy, particularly in his early years.
He had a slight Scottish accent.
They say he ate a very sparce and simple diet.
It has been remarked by numerous people that King Charles was a polite, casual, and unprovoking person. His kind gentle manner was admired by many people.
King Charles was very unlike his father, almost the exact opposite in a way.
Various details about his life:
The midwife at Charles birth was Janet Kinlock.
Charles had rickets as a child.
Charles had to wear reinforced boots (made by Edward Stuteville) to help him walk.
Charles did not walk until about age 4.
Charles was known to be sickly as a child.
Charles did note begin to speak until about the age 3.
He had a stutter. This made him socially awkward they say. This was apparently quite pronounced when he was young but appeared less when he grew up. Apparently, he went through great effort to get rid of it. Its been said that he largely overcome it, in his adult years, by carefully thinking out each sentence before he spoke. This may account for why he was very reserved and modest with words.
Charles’ father, King James I, and the Duke of Buckingham always called him “baby Charles”.
It appears that Charles preferred to dress modestly, in darker clothing without any adornment.
He was married by proxy to Henrietta Maria, the sister of King Louis XIII of France. The marriage took place outside the west door of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. His proxy was the Duke of Chevreuse, who was a Huguenot. Because he was not Catholic he had to wait outside for several hours while the French royal family was inside doing religious services. The marriage, also, being that he was not Catholic, had to be performed outside the cathedral as well.
Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld performed the services at King Charles’ and Henrietta Maria’s wedding.
Being that the marriage was by proxy in Paris, this means that Charles never went through a marriage ceremony with his wife. But I have also heard it said that, shortly after Henrietta Maria arrived in England at Dover, they went to Canterbury Cathedral and had an actual marriage.
While waiting for his wife to come to England he was so impatient that he sat til the sun set on the roof of Dover Castle looking out over the sea.
King Charles wife, Henrietta Maria, could not speak english when she married him.
Before he became King, Charles titles were Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of York, Duke of Albany, Marquess of Ormond, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Ross, Baron Renfrew, Lord Ardmannoch, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.
The Kings fool was named Archie.
The Kings personal chaplains included Dr. Brian Duppa, John Hacket, Michael Hudson, Sheldon, Holdsworth, and Haywood.
The Queens ‘dwarf’ was named Geoffrey Hudson.
King Charles loved to play tennis.
King Charles loved to play bowls, especially as he got older.
King Charles loved to play in ‘masques’.
King Charles loved to hunt and often put it above most things. Unfortunately, many diplomats and people complained because he was always away hunting and never available.
King Charles loved paintings and collected a large amount (perhaps one of the largest for a monarch). He knew a lot of details about painting to such an extent that he could tell if a painting was painted by a master or an apprentice.
We know that he had painted several paintings but these have been lost.
King Charles was supposed to of played the viola very well, which he learned when he was young. They say he could have been an accomplished viola player had he not been king.
King Charles was an accomplished horse rider, though they say he was a little reckless.
One of King Charles favourite poets was Thomas Carew, his Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.
He wore white at his coronation. This was not the traditional color. The traditional purple velvet clothe was not available at the time. It’s for this reason he was often called the “white king”.
Charles made up his own recipe for the anointing oil that he used at his coronation. My understanding that it has been used up to the present times.
Charles did not allow Ambassadors to dine with him, as his father did. He did allow some to come and make some remarks to him as he ate. This custom he copied from the Spanish court.
Charles was very conscious of the different orders of Nobility. He required that only certain orders of Nobility be permitted in specific rooms in the palace, so that no one of inferior rank would be allowed to enter into these rooms. Orders were drawn up and hung in each room forbidding people below a certain order of Nobility to be admitted there. These orders hung there til the English Civil War. This custom he may of learned from the Spanish court who had similar restrictions.
Charles set up a new Palace Court which heard cases within a 12 mile radius of the Palace or his person.
Charles hated people smoking tobacco in his presence.
The last Angel-Noble medal was minted by King Charles. These coins were touched by the king and given to person who was suffering from an ailment to ward off the ‘kings evil’.
King Charles created England’s first military medal for bravery, called the Forlorn Hope Medal. On one side is King Charles I. On the other is the future King Charles II. It is shown below:
The night before his execution he had Mr. Herbert take his bed from his room and place it next to his.
The day before his execution he got his clothes ready, as he wanted to appear as neat as he could for, as he said, the next day was his ‘wedding day’.
On the morning of his execution he questioned Mr. Herbert, who was sleeping next to him, why he was having difficulty sleeping. Mr. Herbert said it was because of a dream he had. Charles, as a result, inquired him of his dream. In this dream Dr. William Laud came to their room and knocked on the door while they were sleeping. After two knocks Mr. Herbert let him in. He then spoke to King Charles and gave a sigh. As he walked away he bowed to King Charles several times and then fell prostrate on the ground. Mr. Herbert went to help him up when King Charles woke him up to ask about the dream. Laud was beheaded in 1645.
The day of his execution was very cold. Because of this, Charles put on an extra shirt for warmth. He did not want people to mistake a shivering from cold was a result of fear.
While being marched across St. James Park to his execution the soldiers walked very slow, which bothered Charles. He yelled up to the soldiers in front to “march apace” so they’d walk faster. This they did.
At his execution the balustrade around the execution platform was drapped with black cloth so no one would see the execution itself.
At his execution, they mounted two rings in the floor of the platform. This was in case he resisted and they had to tie him down.
The actual execution block was only about 12 inches thick. As a result, he actually layed flat on his front on the platform. He was not kneeling, as is sometimes shown.
His last word was not “remember!”, as is often said, but “stay for the sign”. He told the executioner that he would hold both hands out when he was ready. He wanted to say a prayer privately before he was executed. What he said in this prayer we will never know.
King Charles was buried in the tomb meant for another.
The King had 9 children:
March 13, 1629 – Charles James. First child stillborn (born feet first) when Henrietta was frightened by dogs.
May 29, 1631 – Charles (the future King Charles II). Died February 6, 1685. Married but with no legitimate children
November 4, 1631 – Mary. Died December 24, 1660. Married with children.
October 14, 1633 – James (the future King James II). Died September 16, 1701. Married with children.
December 29, 1635 – Elizabeth. Died September 8, 1650. Died at a young age.
March 17, 1637 – Anne. Died December 8, 1640. Died at a young age.
January 29, 1639 – Catherine. Born stillborn.
July 8, 1640- Henry. Died September 18, 1660. Did not marry or have children.
June 16, 1644 – Henrietta. Died June 30, 1670. Married with children.
Two of his children were dead at birth, leaving 7 living children. Two would be future Kings of England. Four married. Four had children.
Brothers and sisters
King Charles was in a family of 7 brothers and sisters:
Henry (February 19, 1594 – November 6, 1612). Probably died of typhoid fever.
Elizabeth (August 19, 1596 – February 13, 1662). Married Frederick V, Elector Palatine, in 1613.
Margaret Stuart (December 24, 1598 – March, 1600) .
Charles – King Charles I (November 19, 1600 – January 30, 1649). Executed.
Robert Stuart (January 18, 1602 – May 27, 1602). Duke of Kintyre.
Mary Stuart (April 8, 1605 – December 16, 1607).
Sophia Stuart (June 1607). Died within 2 days of birth.
He had 2 brothers and 4 sisters. Only he and Elizabeth lived beyond their late teens. Four died while children. One died in his late teens.
A note on the dates
Be aware that the dates used in England at the time of King Charles I are not the dates we use nowadays. They went according to the Julian calendar. England did not adopt the calendar we use now, the Gregorian calender, until 1752. During King Charles I reign the dates were about 10 days earlier than what we use now. His execution was on January 30, 1649 according to the English or Julian calendar that was used then. According to the dates we use now, based on the Gregorian calender, it was actually February 9, 1649.
Here is a link to a calender converter:
(Go down to Julian calender section and enter the date. Press ‘calculate’ – all dates are then changed to corresponed to that date. Scroll up to the Gregorian calender section to see what the date is.)
Copyright by Mike Michelsen