Charles I - Ls
Lot 38
Sold for £2,125 (US$ 3,571) inc. premium
Lot Details
Letter signed ("Charles R"), to "Mon Cousin" (possibly the Duke of Lorraine), in French, informing him that the bearer, "le Docteur Goffe", will instruct him as to some secret business and explaining that he has chosen Goffe because his position will render his business less suspect, the secrecy of which is for the present as much in the recipient's interest as his own (" condition, rendra sa negociation moins suspecte, le secrett dicelle estant pour le present tout a faict necessaire tant a mes Interests qu'au vostres..."); with typed transcript and translation, one page, integral blank, on paper watermarked with a lance bearing a double pennant, folio, Oxford, 24 May 1644


  • CHARLES I BESIEGED IN OXFORD DESPATCHES A SECRET AGENT TO THE CONTINENT: Charles, with his headquarters in Oxford, was at this time under direct threat from the parliamentary army, his queen having fled the city on 17 April. On 27 May William Waller attempted to cross the Isis but was beaten back by the royalists, and on the 28th the Earl of Essex forded the river and drew up his entire army on Bullingdon Green, reaching Islip on the 29th, while parliamentary horse patrolled Headington Hill. The King meanwhile watched proceedings from Magdalen Tower. Soon afterwards, he fled from Oxford but Waller and Essex failed to take their opportunity and seized neither city nor king. The bearer of this letter, Stephen Goffe (or Gough), acted as the King's confidential agent on the Continent, in 1644 travelling to Brussels to negotiate for troops from the Duke of Lorraine and ships from the Prince of Orange. He was later to be received into the Roman Catholic Church and become a prominent member of the exiled royalist community, acting as Chaplain to Henrietta Maria and at her insistence tutoring the future Duke of Monmouth. Negotiations with the Duke of Lorraine, possible recipient of this letter, were encouraged by the French an continued into the following year: 'Mazarin, as sceptical about the Stuarts as Richelieu had been, was happy enough to let [Henrietta Maria] think the duke of Lorraine could furnish 10,000 men, which would conveniently relieve the pressure this troublemaker exerted on France' (Caroline M. Hibbard, 'Henrietta Maria', ODNB).

    An accompanying note describes the present letter as autograph, but while being signed by the King the body of the text appears to us in fact to be in the hand of Ralph Weckherlin, son of Georg Rudolf Weckherlin, the distinguished German poet who had long served as Charles I's secretary but who was now in parliamentary service (in which he continued until replaced by John Milton after the King's execution). The son Ralph however remained in royal service.
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