Sunday, November 06, 2011
The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell (Guest Post)
The Most Romantic Ride of All Time?
In 1651, an English girl named Jane Lane embarked on a dangerous adventure that not only saved the life of the king but preserved the future of the English monarchy.
Charles and his ragged and outnumbered army knew that all their hopes rested on the outcome of the battle, and Charles thought that for him, the outcome would be “a crown or a coffin.” Their bloody rout ended the Royalist cause. Once Charles had been convinced that the best he could do was survive, he fled as his supporters made a last ferocious stand, and legendarily dashed out the back door of his lodgings as the enemy entered at the front, slipping out the last unguarded city gate.
One of Charles’s companions during his flight from Worcester was the Earl of Derby, who had recently been sheltered at a house called Boscobel in Shropshire. He suggested that the king might hide there until he could find a way out of England.
It was an improbable scheme. Charles was six feet two inches tall and very dark complexioned, not at all common looking for an Englishman of that time. And yet time after time he rode right under the noses of Roundhead soldiers without being recognized.
I learned about Jane Lane from Derek Wilson’s book All the King’s Women, and was convinced by the evidence he presented for his belief that Jane and the king became lovers when they were in each other’s company, in close physical contact, and in perilous circumstances from September 9 to September 18, 1651.
The time that Charles spent on the run was an enormously formative experience, he told the story for the rest of his life, and Jane was clearly someone who he regarded with respect and affection until his death.