Tom Robisheaux, Nicole Barnes
On the cold and blustery morning of January 30, 1649, Charles was escorted to the execution “stage” in front of the Banqueting House of Whitehall, London. Tens of thousands packed around every side to catch even the slightest glimpse of the swinging axe. The cheers, jeers, and prayers of the crowd proved deafening, as the published transcript of Charles’ final words contains omissions included by the scribes. Finally, as the executioner severed the king’s head from his body, an infamous “groan” sounded over the cacophony before mounted police galloped through the crowd to quickly disband the mass. In this workshop, participants created their own short “thick description” of Charles’s execution. The exercise demonstrated how primary source materials (maps, diary entries, transcripts) can be read and interpreted to help modern culture understand experiences of the past through sound, the senses, and emotions.