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  • Print publication year: 1994
  • Online publication date: December 2009

12 - Provincial preaching on the eve of the Civil War: some West Riding fast sermons


When Charles I entered the city of York on the afternoon of Saturday 17 March 1642 he was met by the corporation, but despite reports that ‘the streets were embroidered with people on both sides’ in welcome the reception did not go well. Immediately prior to the king's arrival the corporation had expressed concern that a number of aldermen would absent themselves on the day, and the speech of the mayor, Edmund Cowper, was not well received. After the usual introductions the mayor compared the present circumstances unfavourably with those of the previous royal visit in 1639, he continued with an expression of those pieties customarily addressed to a monarch but then recalled the current dispute with the following advice: ‘Howsoever (most gracious Sovereign) remember Parliament, forget not them that always remember you: concur with them in their sedulous consultations, that so by that meanes your Imperiall dignity may be the more advanced.’ These were hardly words which Charles wished to hear from his loyal subjects, and the king's displeasure was widely reported. The mayor's speech was not the only public pronouncement in the city on that day, however, and it may be that Charles' subsequent irritation arose more from knowledge of the other public criticism being voiced by the civic preachers.

Having been met by the mayor outside Micklegate Bar the royal entourage would have proceeded down Micklegate and over Ousebridge on its way to the house of Sir Arthur Ingram in the cathedral close.