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Heart-shaped jet pendant amulet commemorating the execution of King Charles I, England, 1649-1800

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Made of jet with a small hole for suspending on a chain, this heart-shaped pendant commemorates the death of King Charles I. Jewellery such as this was worn as forms of memento mori. These are objects which draw attention to the brief nature of life and the fact death comes to us all, regardless of wealth or social status. It is engraved on the front with an image of the King. His execution dates surrounding a skull are on the reverse. The King’s misuse of power and his handling of political and religious conflicts led England into Civil War during the 1640s. The King was imprisoned in Hampton Court Palace after his Royalist army was defeated. He escaped to the Isle of Wight hoping to take a boat to France, but was recaptured. King Charles I was executed for high treason on 30 January 1649 at Whitehall.

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Glossary: pendant

Hanging articles of jewellery, usually suspended from a necklace, but also includes Renaissance examples fastened to the sleeve often worn as decorative ornaments; can also be an article of devotional, magical, or mourning jewelry which then may sometimes be concealed under clothing.

Glossary: memento mori

Symbols intended to remind the viewer of death. Memento mori are often objects such as skulls or hourglasses, but can also be written inscriptions.

Glossary: mourning

Trial term S&H