From Linn Records, this two CD set of the complete The Royal Consort of Williams Lawes presents music from the Court of one of England's most cultured monarchs, King Charles I. Per the liner notes:
theorbo is a kind of lute, developed in the sixteenth century, with an elongated neck and a second peg box as shown on the cover of the cd of Bach and De Visee works at right. It was used for bass continuo in Father Claudio Monteverdi's operas, for example, including Orfeo.
According to Wikipedia, based on the entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
His patron, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, apprenticed him to the composer John Coprario, which probably brought Lawes into contact with Charles, Prince of Wales at an early age. Both William and his elder brother Henry received court appointments after Charles succeeded to the British throne as Charles I. William was appointed as "musician in ordinary for lutes and voices" in 1635 but had been writing music for the court prior to this.
Lawes spent all his adult life in Charles's employ. He composed secular music and songs for court masques (and doubtless played in them), as well as sacred anthems and motets for Charles's private worship. He is most remembered today for his sublime viol consort suites for between three and six players and his lyra viol music. His use of counterpoint and fugue and his tendency to juxtapose bizarre, spine-tingling themes next to pastoral ones in these works made them disfavoured in the centuries after his death; they have only become widely available in recent years.
When Charles's dispute with Parliament led to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lawes joined the Royalist army and was given a post in the King's Life Guards, which was intended to keep him out of danger. Despite this, he was "casually shot" by a Parliamentarian in the rout of the Royalists at Rowton Heath, near Chester, on 24 September 1645. Although the King was in mourning for his kinsman Bernard Stuart (killed in the same defeat), he instituted a special mourning for Lawes, apparently honouring him with the title of "Father of Musick." The author of his epitaph, Thomas Jordan, closed it with a lachrymose pun on the fact that Lawes had died at the hands of those who denied the divine right of kings: "Will. Lawes was slain by such whose wills were laws." Lawes' body was lost or destroyed and his burial site is unknown.