Charles II of England

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King Charles II, the first monarch to rule after the English Restoration.

Charles II (29 May 1630 –6 February 1685), was king of England, Ireland, and Scotland, from 1649 to 1685. His father was Charles I of England, who was executed after losing a war with Parliament.

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. By the time he grew into a young man, his father was already at war with Parliament. 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, but Parliament was still in control of Britain and would not let him take his throne.

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 he was not caught by the enemy because he hid 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 Holland where his supporters were. 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 ordinary man who had been chosen as leader of the country by Parliament. Cromwell was very strict, so the people soon grew tired of him. When Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard was chosen to be the next leader. Richard Cromwell was ineffective, and King Charles II was asked to come back and rule Britain.

In 1660, Charles II was brought back to Britain and took his throne. 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 of the laws that Cromwell had made and allowed people more freedom to enjoy themselves. He liked to go to the theatre, played cards and enjoyed sports such as horse racing. Some people thought that a king should be more serious and not spend so much time and money on pleasure.

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 a 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 because he respected her and he did not agree with divorce. 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 of these was an actress called Nell Gwyn. Several of Charles's lovers had babies, but none of these children were allowed to follow Charles as king, because they were "illegitimate", 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, 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

  1. Letters claiming that she bore Charles a son named James de la Cloche in 1646 are dismissed by historians as forgeries.[1]

By Lucy Walter (c.1630–1658)

  1. 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.[2]

By Elizabeth Killigrew (1622–1680), daughter of Sir Robert Killigrew, married Francis Boyle, 1st Viscount Shannon in 1660

  1. Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria FitzRoy (1650–1684), married the 2nd Earl of Yarmouth

By Catherine Pegge

  1. Charles FitzCharles (1657–1680), known as "Don Carlo", created Earl of Plymouth (1675)
  2. Catherine FitzCharles (born 1658; she either died young or became a nun at Dunkirk)[3]

By Barbara Villiers Palmer (1641–1709), wife of Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine created Duchess of Cleveland in her own right

  1. 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.[4]
  2. Charles Fitzroy (1662–1730) created Duke of Southampton (1675), became 2nd Duke of Cleveland (1709)
  3. Henry Fitzroy (1663–1690), created Earl of Euston (1672), Duke of Grafton (1675), also 7 Greats-Grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales
  4. Charlotte Fitzroy (1664–1717). She married Edward Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield.
  5. George Fitzroy (1665–1716), created Earl of Northumberland (1674), Duke of Northumberland (1678)
  6. Barbara (Benedicta) Fitzroy (1672–1737) – She was probably the child of John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, who was another of Cleveland's many lovers,[5] and was never acknowledged by Charles as his own daughter.[6]

By Nell Gwyn (1650–1687)

  1. Charles Beauclerk (1670–1726), created Duke of St Albans (1684)
  2. James, Lord Beauclerk (1671–1680)

By Louise Renée de Penancoet de Kérouaille (1649–1734), created Duchess of Portsmouth in her own right (1673)

  1. Charles Lennox (1672–1723), created Duke of Richmond (1675) in England and Duke of Lennox (1675) in Scotland. Ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, and Sarah, Duchess of York.

By Mary 'Moll' Davis, courtesan and actress of repute[7]

  1. 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:

  1. Christabella Wyndham[8]
  2. Hortense Mancini, Duchess of Mazarin[9]
  3. Winifred Wells – one of the Queen's Maids of Honour[10]
  4. Jane Roberts – the daughter of a clergyman[10]
  5. Elizabeth Berkeley, née Bagot, Dowager Countess of Falmouth – the widow of Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth[10][11]
  6. Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Countess of Kildare[10]

References[change | change source]

  1. Fraser, pp.43–44 and Hutton, p.25
  2. Weir, Alison (1996), Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Revised edition, Random House, pp. 255–257, ISBN 0712674489
  3. Hutton, p.125
  4. Cokayne, George E.; Revised and enlarged by Gibbs, Vicary; Edited by Doubleday, H. A., Warrand, D., and de Walden, Lord Howard (1926). "Appendix F. Bastards of Charles II". The Complete Peerage. London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd.. Volume VI, pp.706–708.
  5. Miller, Charles II pp.97, 123
  6. Fraser, pp.65 and 286
  7. Fraser, p.287
  8. Fraser, p.37 and Miller, Charles II p.5
  9. Fraser, pp.341–342, Hutton, p.336 and Miller, Charles II p.228
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Fraser, p.285 and Hutton, p.262
  11. Melville, Lewis (2005). The Windsor Beauties: Ladies of the Court of Charles II. Loving Healing Press. ISBN 1932690131. http://books.google.com/books?id=FCxRqOrMVQUC&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=charles+ii+bagot&source=web&ots=i_bOsL1O1k&sig=4KVdOCPbG-VBo5SMLDUXyaDlBdA#PPA96,M1. Retrieved 2007-12-18.