Charles I

Rory’s teacher Ms. Caldecott tells the class they will be debating “Did Charles I receive a fair trial?”. It’s not clear which class this is – it may be History, and Ms. Caldecott has replaced Mrs. Ness as the teacher for the subject this semester, or it may be Government.

Charles I (1600-1649) was the king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1625 until his death. Charles was in conflict with the Parliament of England, which tried to place limits on his royal prerogative – the authority and privileges which belong to the monarch alone. Charles believed in the divine right of kings, and that he was subject to no earthly authority, but could rule as he pleased through the will of God.

From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War, was defeated in 1645 but still refused to accept demands for a constitutional monarchy. He was tried, convicted, and executed on charges of high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished before being restored in 1660.

At his trial, Charles was held responsible for all the damage done to his country during the Civil War, including the deaths of 6% of the population. He refused to plead, claiming that no court held authority over a monarch, and that his authority to rule came from God and from the laws of England. He said that the trial was illegal, and its power only came from the force of arms.

The court challenged the idea that a monarch was immune from prosecution by the state, proposing that the “king” was not a person, but an office whose occupant had to govern by the laws of the land. They went ahead with the trial without the king’s royal assent. Charles was not present to hear the evidence against him, and had no opportunity to question witnesses, so there would be material for both sides of the debate.

“You break, you buy”

MRS. KIM: You break, you buy!

This is of dubious legality. In the US, sometimes a customer would have to pay at least partially for an item they broke negligently or on purpose, but US law is so complex that it is hard to say what would actually occur if it went to court. In this case, Kim’s Antiques is so cluttered that the customer could easily have argued that the Kims themselves were responsible for the breakage.

“Right to change my mind”

RORY: I do however reserve the right to change my mind.
LORELAI: That’s your prerogative as long as you remain a woman.

Lorelai is referring to the saying that “It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind”. The proverb may come from law: from the Middle Ages onward, if a man broke off an engagement, he could be sued for breach of promise since he had broken a contract. But a woman was allowed to back out of an engagement with no legal repercussions, although there might be significant social ones.

Even though today both men and women are legally allowed to change their minds when it comes to marriage, the old saying remains.

Flagellation

LUKE: You look nice, too.
LORELAI: I had a flagellation to go to.

A flagellation is a severe whipping given as corporal punishment, usually to the point of bleeding, and often performed in public to increase the humiliation and provide a spectacle. Such punishments were common in the past, and although long abolished in Western nations as a legal punishment, are still routinely handed out by the justice system in other countries around the world.

The word has a specifically religious meaning in Christianity, with The Flagellation of Christ (pictured above) being the scourging administered to Jesus Christ prior to his crucifixion by the Romans – a standard pre-crucifixion punishment at the time.