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Christ Standing on Death, Sin, and Satan

Engraving made by Crispijn de Passe the elder, England, 1623.

 

► An emblematic image with Christ standing on Death (a human skeleton), Sin (a serpent with a human head), and Satan (a monster). He holds a triangle with a whole-length figure of James I as Defender of the Faith, surrounded by medallion portraits of his family; in the upper angle of the triangle Charles, Prince of Wales, in armour, tramples on a figure with the heads of the pope and two kings labelled 'False Universalls'; an armed man stands in each of the lower angles, one trampling on a two-headed figure representing 'Faction' and 'Bribery', the other on 'Treason', a man holding a knife and a pistol; emblems of the British nations, lion, unicorn, harp and dragon in each corner of the sheet; title-page to Thomas Scott, Vox Dei, 1623.

 

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► The frontispiece is explained in the book as follows:

"Truth-telling Ramsy, Treason doth withstand,

And for the Kinges life liftes his happie hand.

The Duke kils Briberie (bane of Commonweales)

With fire-brand Faction, and so truly deales

For Kinge and Kingdome, as a man that knowes,

Upon one roote, their equall welfare growes.

The Prince false Universalls doth detest,

And, true of faith, is by the true faith blest.

Hee for the Kinge the Kingdome and the Kirke,

Like Hercules begins heroick worke,

And sets new pillars on the coast of Spaine,

To bownd three-bodyed Geryon once againe;

Who, with his dooble-headed dog, did drawe,

Backward, against divine and humane Lawe,

Kingdomes and Countries of seduced men,

Into his darke, and Hell-resembling denn.

The Kinge hedg'd rownd with sweete yet pricking roses.

And Thistles, in securitie reposes

His bay-crownde heade, whilst soe incircled Hee,

Guarded by these, guardes these from tyrannie.

Jesus from Jesuites and all spirituall harmes,

Defendes his Flock with his all-mightie armes;

Treades sinne, and Death, and Sathan underfoote,

Whilst God the Father puts his blessing to it.

Then who gives back? who is on our side, whoe?

Where wordes and Treatyes faile, resolve to doe."

 

► Malcolm Jones (personal communication, 23 March 2009) has identified the armed man on the right, "truth-telling Ramsy", as John Ramsay, Earl of Holdernesse (c.1580-1626) who had saved James when he was attacked by the Earl of Gowrie in 1600. Jones also suggests that "the Duke", on the left, is Buckingham who by the end of 1623 was speaking out against corruption in public life. At the same time the Prince of Wales was pushing for war with Spain after the abandonment of plans for his marriage to the Infanta Maria Anna ("Like Hercules begins heroick worke,/And sets new pillars on the coast of Spaine").

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Taken on May 26, 2009