Revisiting A Charles I Ring

December 20, 2010

Charles I Mourning Ring FrontThis piece dedicated to Charles I is a display of affection that would eventually generate the popularity of the mourning custom. Looking at the piece, Charles’ eyes are turned upwards, which confirms the piece was created after his death. Pieces of this quality are historically important for their relevance to English history and in mourning jewellery. Incredibly rare, other examples can be seen in the V&A Museum. Though there is repair work to the shank, the style of the ring is a good indication of the mid 17th Century.

Rings of the time, particularly after the death of Charles I in 1649, used much of the memento mori symbolism (more on that in another post), but the difference of putting the portrait of Charles I (above), or pieces with the initials CR, shows a distinct change of memento mori as a statement to one of reverence.Charles I Mourning Ring Back Note that Charles’ eyes are facing upwards, which denotes the death of the subject. Earlier portraits (during his lifetime) had the eyes facing forward. These eyes are looking to the heavens. Pieces like this were created during the royalist movement (and beyond) and would eventually spur on the English Restoration leading to the instalment of Charles II.

The distribution of rings had been written into wills of the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. Most famously, William Shakespere in 1616 declared that in his will that his daughter and wife should have rings stating “Love My Memory” . This custom, though used, was not as popular as the latter half of the 17th Century would prove, though is provides a good basis for what was to come. Posy rings, typically bands with inscriptions, were popular for sentimental purposes during the 17th Century.

Charles I Mourning Ring InsideCountry: England
Year: c. 1649
Dedication: Charles I “prepared be to follow me”

4 Responses to “Revisiting A Charles I Ring”

  1. terri Says:

    we have one of these rings & have been wondering about it? ..what is the V& A musem? where is it located?

  2. terri Says:

    I live on Catalina Island in California, U.S.A so I’ll have trouble getting to The Victoria and Albert Museum but thank your for the information about it. …. Today I looked again at the ring & King Charles I is staring straight ahead. I will post a picture of it if there’s a way to. ..We also apparently have several mourning broaches that are similar to what you have posted on your site. ..Your site I find very classy, & that’s nice for a change. ………….


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