Charles II of England
Early life[change | change source]
Prince Charles was the king's eldest son. As a little boy, he was made Prince of Wales as a sign that he would one day be king.
Prince Charles did not take much part in the fighting. His mother, Henrietta Maria, was French, and she took her children to France when the war broke out, to keep them safe.
Prince Charles was only eighteen when he heard that his father was dead.
This made him King, and he started calling himself King Charles II immediately. However, Parliament was still in control of Britain and would not let him take his throne because after Charles I's execution, Oliver Cromwell became the Lord Protector of Britain from 1653 to 1658.
The King's escape[change | change source]
In 1651, Charles II returned to Britain and fought Parliament at the Battle of Worcester.
He was defeated, but is supposed to have escaped by hiding in an oak tree.
Later, he was forced to disguise himself as a servant. A young lady called Jane Lane helped him to escape, and he sailed to the Netherlands to re-join his supporters. He kept his own royal court there until 1660.
The Restoration[change | change source]
While Charles was in Holland, Britain was being ruled by Oliver Cromwell, an extraordinary man who had no title, but many followers. He was chosen as leader of the country by Parliament. When Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard was chosen to be the next leader.
Richard Cromwell was not the man his father had been. Charles II was asked to come back and rule Britain. In 1660, Charles II was brought back to Britain and took his throne. This was the English Restoration.
Many of his enemies were punished for having executed his father and fought against him, but Richard Cromwell was allowed to go and live quietly away from London.
Charles was popular and was called "The Merry Monarch" because he changed many laws that Cromwell had made and allowed people more freedom to enjoy themselves.
Some people thought that a king should be more serious and not spend so much time and money on fun.
There were also some people who did not like King Charles II because of his religious beliefs. He had been brought up by his mother, who was Roman Catholic, while most people in the country were Protestant.
He married a princess from Portugal, Catherine of Braganza. They did not have any children, but Charles refused to divorce Catherine. Before he was married, he had several girlfriends and lovers, and even after he was married, he went on having lovers, who were called mistresses.
The most famous was an actress called Nell Gwyn. Several of Charles's lovers had babies. However, none of these children were allowed to follow Charles as king because they were bastards, meaning that they had been born to parents who were not married to each other.
The most popular of Charles II's children was James Scott. Charles gave him the title Duke of Monmouth. James's mother had been Charles's girlfriend when he was living in Holland, and some people said that they had been secretly married. If this had been true, then James would have been allowed to be king when Charles died. There were many who wanted this to happen, because they did not like the thought of Charles's younger brother being the next king. This brother, who was also called James, was a Roman Catholic and was not popular.
Charles II died quite suddenly of an illness, and his son James, Duke of Monmouth, started a rebellion in the hope of becoming the next king. He was defeated by the royal army, which supported Charles's brother James. The Duke of Monmouth was executed by having his head chopped off, and Charles's brother became the next ruler, King James II.
Children[change | change source]
By Marguerite or Margaret de Carteret
- Letters claiming that she bore Charles a son named James de la Cloche in 1646 are dismissed by historians as forgeries.
By Lucy Walter (c.1630–1658)
- James Crofts, later Scott (1649–1685), created Duke of Monmouth (1663) in England and Duke of Buccleuch (1663) in Scotland. Ancestor of Sarah, Duchess of York. Lucy Walter had a daughter, Mary Crofts, born after James, but Charles II was not the father.
- Charles FitzCharles (1657–1680), known as "Don Carlo", created Earl of Plymouth (1675)
- Catherine FitzCharles (born 1658; she either died young or became a nun at Dunkirk)
- Anne Palmer (Fitzroy) (1661–1722), Countess of Sussex, married Thomas Lennard, 1st Earl of Sussex. She may have been the daughter of Roger Palmer, but Charles accepted her anyway.
- Charles Fitzroy (1662–1730) created Duke of Southampton (1675),
became 2nd Duke of Cleveland (1709)
- Henry Fitzroy (1663–1690), created Earl of Euston (1672), Duke of Grafton (1675), also 7 Greats-Grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales
- Charlotte Fitzroy (1664–1717). She married Edward Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield.
- George Fitzroy (1665–1716), created Earl of Northumberland (1674), Duke of Northumberland (1678)
- Barbara (Benedicta) Fitzroy (1672–1737) – She was probably the child of John Churchill,
- Lady Mary Tudor (1673–1726), married Edward Radclyffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater; after Edward's death, she married Henry Graham, and upon his death she married James Rooke.
Other probable mistresses:
- Christmastime Wyndham
- Hortense Mancini, Duchess of Mazarin
- Winifred Wells – one of the Queen's Maids of Honour
- Jane Roberts – the daughter of a clergyman
- Elizabeth Berkeley, née Bagot, Dowager Countess of Falmouth – the widow of Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth
- Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Countess of Kildare
References[change | change source]
- Fraser, pp.43–44 and Hutton, p.25
- Weir, Alison (1996), Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Revised edition, Random House, pp. 255–257, ISBN 0712674489
- Hutton, p.125
- Cokayne, George E. (1926). "Appendix F. Bastards of Charles II". The Complete Peerage. Revised and enlarged by Gibbs, Vicary; Edited by Doubleday, H. A., Warrand, D., and de Walden, Lord Howard. London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd. Volume VI, pp. 706–708.
- Miller, Charles II pp.97, 123
- Fraser, pp.65 and 286
- Fraser, p.287
- Fraser, p.37 and Miller, Charles II p.5
- Fraser, pp.341–342, Hutton, p.336 and Miller, Charles II p.228
- Fraser, p.285 and Hutton, p.262
- Melville, Lewis (2005). The Windsor Beauties: Ladies of the Court of Charles II. Loving Healing Press. ISBN 1932690131. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- The traditional date of the Restoration marking the first assembly of King and Parliament together since the abolition of the English monarchy in 1649. The English Parliament recognised Charles as king by unanimous vote on 2 May 1660, and he was proclaimed king in London on 8 May, although royalists had recognised him as such since the execution of his father on 30 January 1649. During Charles's reign all legal documents stating a regnal year did so as if his reign began at his father's death.
- From the death of his father to his defeat at the Battle of Worcester
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