The White King

Written by Leanda de Lisle

Charles I of England, the “White King,” a man with an illustrious heritage, was the head of the Anglican Church, to which he was deeply connected, but he was also detached from Parliament and felt a sense of superiority over it. Charles was the embodiment of a king who believed in the divine right of kings. Here he is presented as a lover of art—he compiled an amazing collection—and as loyal and intelligent, but ultimately, he did not possess the brutality needed to secure his throne. De Lisle briefly sketches Charles’s early years, then dives into his reign and marriage, his relationships with key political figures, and his lack of a relationship with his legal right hand, Parliament.

The author’s research and presentation are skilled and highly readable. The work retains its subject’s humanity with a bit of humor, presenting the necessary political facts of the dividing influences among Charles, the Earl of Strafford, Cromwell, and Parliament and what de Lisle identifies as “not a fight of Catholic against Protestant, but for the kind of Protestantism that would be practiced in Britain.” It is an illuminating book. Recommended.