CHARLES II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was king of England , Scotland and Ireland . He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.
Charles II's father, Charles I , was executed at Whitehall on 30
January 1649, at the climax of the
English Civil War . Although the
Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on 5 February 1649,
England entered the period known as the
English Interregnum or the
English Commonwealth , and the country was a de facto republic, led by
Charles\'s English parliament enacted laws known as the Clarendon
Code , designed to shore up the position of the re-established Church
of England . Charles acquiesced to the
Clarendon Code even though he
favoured a policy of religious tolerance. The major foreign policy
issue of his early reign was the
Second Anglo-Dutch War
Charles was one of the most popular and beloved kings of England, known as the Merry Monarch, in reference to both the liveliness and hedonism of his court and the general relief at the return to normality after over a decade of rule by Cromwell and the Puritans . Charles's wife, Catherine of Braganza , bore no live children, but Charles acknowledged at least twelve illegitimate children by various mistresses. He was succeeded by his brother James.
* 1 Early life, civil war and exile
* 2 Restoration
* 2.1 Clarendon Code * 2.2 Great Plague and Great Fire
* 3 Foreign and colonial policy * 4 Conflict with Parliament
* 5 Later years
* 5.1 Death
* 6 Legacy
* 7 Titles, styles, honours and arms
* 7.1 Titles and styles * 7.2 Honours * 7.3 Arms
* 8 Issue * 9 Ancestry * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
EARLY LIFE, CIVIL WAR AND EXILE
Charles II as an infant in 1630, painting attributed to Justus van Egmont Portrait by William Dobson , c. 1642 or 1643
Charles II was born in St James\'s Palace on 29 May 1630. His parents
were Charles I (who ruled the three kingdoms of England , Scotland and
Ireland ) and Henrietta Maria (the sister of the French king Louis
XIII ). Charles was their second child. Their first son was born about
a year before Charles but died within a day. England, Scotland and
Ireland were respectively predominantly
During the 1640s, when Charles was still young, his father fought
In 1648, during the Second English Civil War , Charles moved to The Hague , where his sister Mary and his brother-in-law William II, Prince of Orange , seemed more likely to provide substantial aid to the royalist cause than his mother's French relations. However, the royalist fleet that came under Charles's control was not used to any advantage, and did not reach Scotland in time to join up with the royalist Engager army of the Duke of Hamilton before it was defeated at the Battle of Preston by the Parliamentarians.
At The Hague, Charles had a brief affair with
Lucy Walter , who later
falsely claimed that they had secretly married. Her son, James Crofts
Duke of Monmouth and
Duke of Buccleuch
Despite his son's diplomatic efforts to save him, Charles I was
beheaded in January 1649, and England became a republic. On 5
When negotiations with the Scots stalled, Charles authorised General Montrose to land in the Orkney Islands with a small army to threaten the Scots with invasion, in the hope of forcing an agreement more to his liking. Montrose feared that Charles would accept a compromise, and so chose to invade mainland Scotland anyway. He was captured and executed. Charles reluctantly promised that he would abide by the terms of a treaty agreed between him and the Scots Parliament at Breda , and support the Solemn League and Covenant , which authorised Presbyterian church governance across Britain. Upon his arrival in Scotland on 23 June 1650, he formally agreed to the Covenant; his abandonment of Episcopal church governance, although winning him support in Scotland, left him unpopular in England. Charles himself soon came to despise the "villainy" and "hypocrisy" of the Covenanters. A king in exile: Charles II painted by Philippe de Champaigne , c. 1653
On 3 September 1650, the Covenanters were defeated at the Battle of
Dunbar by a much smaller force led by
Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland and
Ireland, effectively placing the
Further information: Restoration (1660)
After the death of Cromwell in 1658, Charles's chances of regaining
the Crown at first seemed slim as Cromwell was succeeded as Lord
Protector by his son, Richard . However, the new Lord Protector had no
power base in either Parliament or the
New Model Army . He was forced
to abdicate in 1659 and the Protectorate was abolished. During the
civil and military unrest that followed,
George Monck , the Governor
of Scotland, was concerned that the nation would descend into anarchy.
Monck and his army marched into the
City of London
The restrictions against royalist candidates and voters were widely
ignored, and the elections resulted in a House of Commons that was
fairly evenly divided on political grounds between Royalists and
Parliamentarians and on religious grounds between Anglicans and
Presbyterians. The new so-called Convention Parliament assembled on
25 April 1660, and soon afterwards welcomed the Declaration of
He set out for England from
English Parliament granted him an annual income to run the
government of £1.2 million, generated largely from customs and
excise duties. The grant, however, proved to be insufficient for most
of Charles's reign. For the most part, the actual revenue was much
lower, which led to attempts to economise at court by reducing the
size and expenses of the royal household and raise money through
unpopular innovations such as the hearth tax . Charles was
In the latter half of 1660, Charles's joy at the Restoration was tempered by the deaths of his youngest brother, Henry , and sister, Mary , of smallpox . At around the same time, Anne Hyde , the daughter of the Lord Chancellor , Edward Hyde , revealed that she was pregnant by Charles's brother, James , whom she had secretly married. Edward Hyde, who had not known of either the marriage or the pregnancy, was created Earl of Clarendon and his position as Charles's favourite minister was strengthened.
The Convention Parliament was dissolved in December 1660, and,
shortly after the coronation , the second
English Parliament of the
reign assembled. Dubbed the
The Restoration was accompanied by social change. Puritanism lost its
momentum. Theatres reopened after having been closed during the
We have a pretty witty king, Whose word no man relies on, He never said a foolish thing, And never did a wise one"
To which Charles is reputed to have replied "that the matter was easily accounted for: For that his discourse was his own, his actions were the ministry's".
GREAT PLAGUE AND GREAT FIRE
In 1665, Charles was faced with a great health crisis: the Great
Plague of London . The death toll reached a peak of 7,000 per week in
the week of 17 September. Charles, with his family and court, fled
London in July to
After a long spell of hot and dry weather through mid-1666, what later became known as the Great Fire of London started on 2 September 1666 in a bakehouse on Pudding Lane . Fanned by a strong easterly wind and fed by stockpiles of wood and fuel that had been prepared for the coming colder months, the fire eventually consumed about 13,200 houses and 87 churches, including St Paul\'s Cathedral . Charles and his brother James joined and directed the fire-fighting effort. The public blamed Catholic conspirators for the fire, and one Frenchman, Robert Hubert , was hanged on the basis of a false confession even though he had no hand in starting the fire.
FOREIGN AND COLONIAL POLICY
Since 1640, Portugal had been fighting a war against Spain to restore
its independence after a dynastic union of sixty years between the
crowns of Spain and Portugal. Portugal had been helped by France, but
Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 Portugal was abandoned by its
French ally. Negotiations with Portugal for Charles's marriage to
Catherine of Braganza began during his father's reign and upon the
restoration, Queen Luísa of Portugal , acting as regent, reopened
negotiations with England that resulted in an alliance. On 23 June
1661, a marriage treaty was signed; England acquired Catherine's dowry
Tangier (in North Africa) and the
Seven islands of Bombay (the
latter having a major influence on the development of the British
Empire in India), together with trading privileges in
The same year, in an unpopular move, Charles sold Dunkirk to his
first cousin King
Louis XIV of France
Before Charles's restoration, the
Navigation Acts of 1650 had hurt
Dutch trade by giving English vessels a monopoly, and had started the
First Dutch War (1652–1654). To lay foundations for a new beginning,
envoys of the States General appeared in November 1660 with the Dutch
Gift . The
Second Dutch War (1665–1667) was started by English
attempts to muscle in on Dutch possessions in Africa and North
America. The conflict began well for the English, with the capture of
As a result of the Second Dutch War, Charles dismissed Lord Clarendon , whom he used as a scapegoat for the war. Clarendon fled to France when impeached for high treason (which carried the penalty of death). Power passed to five politicians known collectively by a whimsical acronym as the Cabal —Clifford , Arlington , Buckingham , Ashley (afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury) and Lauderdale . In fact, the Cabal rarely acted in concert, and the court was often divided between two factions led by Arlington and Buckingham, with Arlington the more successful.
In 1668, England allied itself with Sweden, and with its former enemy the Netherlands, to oppose Louis XIV in the War of Devolution . Louis made peace with the Triple Alliance , but he continued to maintain his aggressive intentions towards the Netherlands. In 1670, Charles, seeking to solve his financial troubles, agreed to the Treaty of Dover , under which Louis XIV would pay him £160,000 each year. In exchange, Charles agreed to supply Louis with troops and to announce his conversion to Catholicism "as soon as the welfare of his kingdom will permit". Louis was to provide him with 6,000 troops to suppress those who opposed the conversion. Charles endeavoured to ensure that the Treaty—especially the conversion clause—remained secret. It remains unclear if Charles ever seriously intended to convert.
Meanwhile, by a series of five charters, Charles granted the East
India Company the rights to autonomous government of its territorial
acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops, to form
alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and
criminal jurisdiction over its possessions in the Indies. Earlier in
1668 he leased the islands of
CONFLICT WITH PARLIAMENT
Although previously favourable to the Crown, the Cavalier Parliament was alienated by the king's wars and religious policies during the 1670s. In 1672, Charles issued the Royal Declaration of Indulgence , in which he purported to suspend all penal laws against Catholics and other religious dissenters. In the same year, he openly supported Catholic France and started the Third Anglo-Dutch War .
Charles's wife Queen Catherine was unable to produce an heir; her
four pregnancies had ended in miscarriages and stillbirths in 1662,
February 1666, May 1668 and June 1669. Charles's heir presumptive was
therefore his unpopular Catholic brother, James, Duke of York. Partly
to assuage public fears that the royal family was too Catholic,
Charles agreed that James's daughter, Mary , should marry the
Protestant William of Orange . In 1678,
Titus Oates , who had been
Later in 1678, Danby was impeached by the House of Commons on the
charge of high treason . Although much of the nation had sought war
with Catholic France, Charles had secretly negotiated with Louis XIV ,
trying to reach an agreement under which England would remain neutral
in return for money. Danby had publicly professed that he was hostile
to France, but had reservedly agreed to abide by Charles's wishes.
Unfortunately for him, the House of Commons failed to view him as a
reluctant participant in the scandal, instead believing that he was
the author of the policy. To save Danby from the impeachment trial,
Charles dissolved the
The new English Parliament, which met in March of the same year, was quite hostile to Charles. Many members feared that he had intended to use the standing army to suppress dissent or impose Catholicism. However, with insufficient funds voted by Parliament, Charles was forced to gradually disband his troops. Having lost the support of Parliament, Danby resigned his post of Lord High Treasurer , but received a pardon from the king. In defiance of the royal will, the House of Commons declared that the dissolution of Parliament did not interrupt impeachment proceedings, and that the pardon was therefore invalid. When the House of Lords attempted to impose the punishment of exile—which the Commons thought too mild—the impeachment became stalled between the two Houses. As he had been required to do so many times during his reign, Charles bowed to the wishes of his opponents, committing Danby to the Tower of London , in which he was held for another five years.
Charles faced a political storm over his brother James, a Catholic, being next in line to the throne. The prospect of a Catholic monarch was vehemently opposed by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (previously Baron Ashley and a member of the Cabal, which had fallen apart in 1673). Shaftesbury's power base was strengthened when the House of Commons of 1679 introduced the Exclusion Bill , which sought to exclude the Duke of York from the line of succession . Some even sought to confer the Crown on the Protestant Duke of Monmouth , the eldest of Charles's illegitimate children. The Abhorrers—those who thought the Exclusion Bill was abhorrent—were named Tories (after a term for dispossessed Irish Catholic bandits), while the Petitioners—those who supported a petitioning campaign in favour of the Exclusion Bill—were called Whigs (after a term for rebellious Scottish Presbyterians). Portrait by John Riley , c. 1680–1685
Fearing that the
Exclusion Bill would be passed, and bolstered by
some acquittals in the continuing Plot trials, which seemed to him to
indicate a more favourable public mood towards Catholicism, Charles
dissolved the English Parliament, for a second time that year, in
mid-1679. Charles's hopes for a more moderate Parliament were not
fulfilled; within a few months he had dissolved Parliament yet again,
after it sought to pass the Exclusion Bill. When a new Parliament
Charles's opposition to the Exclusion Bill angered some Protestants. Protestant conspirators formulated the Rye House Plot , a plan to murder him and the Duke of York as they returned to London after horse races in Newmarket . A great fire, however, destroyed Charles's lodgings at Newmarket, which forced him to leave the races early, thus, inadvertently, avoiding the planned attack. News of the failed plot was leaked. Protestant politicians such as Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex , Algernon Sydney , Lord William Russell and the Duke of Monmouth were implicated in the plot. Lord Essex slit his own throat while imprisoned in the Tower of London; Sydney and Russell were executed for high treason on very flimsy evidence; and the Duke of Monmouth went into exile at the court of William of Orange. Lord Danby and the surviving Catholic lords held in the Tower were released and the king's Catholic brother, James, acquired greater influence at court. Titus Oates was convicted and imprisoned for defamation.
Charles suffered a sudden apoplectic fit on the morning of 2 February 1685, and died aged 54 at 11:45 am four days later at Whitehall Palace . The suddenness of his illness and death led to suspicion of poison in the minds of many, including one of the royal doctors; however, a more modern medical analysis has held that the symptoms of his final illness are similar to those of uraemia (a clinical syndrome due to kidney dysfunction). In the days between his collapse and his death, Charles endured a variety of torturous treatments including bloodletting , purging and cupping in hopes of effecting a recovery.
On his deathbed Charles asked his brother, James, to look after his
mistresses: "be well to
Charles was succeeded by his brother, who became James II of England and Ireland and James VII of Scotland.
Statue of Charles II as a Roman Caesar, erected 1685, Parliament Square, Edinburgh
Biographer Ronald Hutton says Charles was a popular king in his own day and a "legendary figure" in British history. Other kings had inspired more respect, but perhaps only Henry VIII had endeared himself to the popular imagination as much as this one. He was the playboy monarch, naughty but nice, the hero of all who prized urbanity, tolerance, good humour, and the pursuit of pleasure above the more earnest, sober, or material virtues.
Charles had no legitimate children, but acknowledged a dozen by seven
mistresses, including five by the notorious Barbara Villiers, Lady
Castlemaine , for whom the Dukedom of Cleveland was created. His other
Moll Davis ,
Nell Gwyn , Elizabeth Killigrew ,
Catherine Pegge ,
Lucy Walter and Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of
His subjects resented paying taxes that were spent on his mistresses
and their children, many of whom received dukedoms or earldoms. The
present Dukes of Buccleuch , Richmond , Grafton and St Albans descend
from Charles in unbroken male line.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Charles's eldest son, the
Duke of Monmouth , led a rebellion against
James II, but was defeated at the
Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685,
captured and executed. James was eventually dethroned in 1688, in the
course of the
Looking back on Charles's reign, Tories tended to view it as a time
of benevolent monarchy whereas Whigs perceived it as a terrible
despotism . Today it is possible to assess him without the taint of
partisanship, and he is seen as more of a lovable rogue—in the words
of his contemporary
Restless he rolls from whore to whore A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.
Charles, a patron of the arts and sciences, founded the Royal
Observatory and supported the
Royal Society , a scientific group whose
early members included
The anniversary of the Restoration (which was also Charles's
birthday)—29 May—was recognised in England until the
mid-nineteenth century as
Oak Apple Day , after the Royal Oak in which
Charles hid during his escape from the forces of Oliver Cromwell.
Traditional celebrations involved the wearing of oak leaves but these
have now died out. Charles II is commemorated by statues in London's
Soho Square , in Edinburgh's Parliament Square, in St Mary's Square
TITLES, STYLES, HONOURS AND ARMS
TITLES AND STYLES
* 29 MAY 1630 – MAY 1638: The Duke of Cornwall * MAY 1638 – 30 JANUARY 1649: The Prince of Wales * 30 JANUARY 1649 – 6 FEBRUARY 1685: His Majesty The King
The official style of Charles II was "Charles the Second, by the
Grace of God,
King of England
* KG: Knight of the Garter , 21 May 1638
As Prince of Wales, Charles's coat of arms was the royal arms (which
he later inherited), differenced by a label of three points
Coat of arms as
Prince of Wales
Main article: Descendants of Charles II of England
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
By ELIZABETH KILLIGREW (1622–1680), daughter of Sir Robert Killigrew , married Francis Boyle, 1st Viscount Shannon , in 1660
* Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria FitzRoy (1650–1684), married firstly James Howard and secondly William Paston, 2nd Earl of Yarmouth
By CATHERINE PEGGE
By BARBARA NéE VILLIERS (1641–1709), wife of Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine ; created Duchess of Cleveland in her own right
* Lady Anne Palmer (Fitzroy) (1661–1722), married Thomas Lennard,
1st Earl of Sussex . She may have been the daughter of Roger Palmer,
but Charles accepted her.
Sarah, Duchess of York , descends from Anne
by both parents.
* Charles Fitzroy (1662–1730), created
Duke of Southampton (1675),
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
* Charlotte Fitzroy (1664–1717), married Edward Lee, 1st Earl of
* George Fitzroy (1665–1716), created Earl of Northumberland
Duke of Northumberland
By NELL GWYN (1650–1687)
* Charles Beauclerk (1670–1726), created
Duke of St Albans
By LOUISE RENéE DE PENANCOET DE KéROUAILLE (1649–1734), created
* Charles Lennox (1672–1723), created
Duke of Richmond
By MARY \\'MOLL\\' DAVIS , courtesan and actress of repute
* Lady Mary Tudor (1673–1726), married Edward Radclyffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater ; after Edward's death, she married Henry Graham (of Levens) , and upon his death she married James Rooke.
Other probable mistresses:
* Christabella Wyndham * Hortense Mancini , Duchess of Mazarin * Winifred Wells – one of Queen Catherine's Maids of Honour * Jane Roberts – the daughter of a clergyman * Mrs Knight – a famous singer * Elizabeth Berkeley, née Bagot, Dowager Countess of Falmouth – the widow of Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth * Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Countess of Kildare
ANCESTORS OF CHARLES II OF ENGLAND
4. James I of England (VI of Scotland)
11. Sophia of Mecklenburg
1. CHARLES II OF ENGLAND
12. Anthony, Duke of Vendôme
13. Joan III of Navarre
14. Francis I de\' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
7. Marie de\' Medici
15. Joanna of Austria
* ^ 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 were dated as if his reign began at his father's
* ^ From the death of his father to his defeat at the Battle of
* ^ All dates in this article unless otherwise noted are given in
Julian calendar with the start of year adjusted to 1 January (see
Old Style and New Style dates ).
* ^ One thousand pounds was a vast sum at the time, greater than an
average workman's lifetime earnings.
* ^ It cost the Treasury £321,000 per year.
* ^ The ship's transom is on display at the
* ^ Ogg 1955 , p. 139.
* ^ A B C D E F Weir 1996 , pp. 255–257.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , p. 13; Hutton 1989 , pp. 1–4.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , p. 32; Hutton 1989 , pp. 6–7.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 38–45; Miller 1991 , p. 6.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 55–56.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 57–60.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 65–66, 155; Hutton 1989 , p. 26; Miller
1991 , p. 5.
* ^ RPS , 1649/1/71.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , p. 97; Hutton 1989 , p. 53.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 96–97; Hutton 1989 , pp. 56–57.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 98–128; Hutton 1989 , pp. 53–69.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , p. 117.
* ^ Hutton 1989 , pp. 74–112.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 156–157.
* ^ Fraser 1979 , pp. 160–165.
* ^ Diary of
* Ashmole, Elias (1715), The History of the Most Noble Order of the
Garter, London: Bell, Taylor, Baker and Collins
* BBC staff (October 2003), Charles II and the women who bore his
children (PDF), BBC
* Bombay: History of a City, The British Library Board, retrieved 19
* "Nova et Vetera",
British Medical Journal , 2 (4064): 1089, 1938,
JSTOR 20301497 , doi :10.1136/bmj.2.4064.1089
* Brown, K. M.; et al., eds. (2007–2017), "Proclamation: of King
Charles II, 5 January 1649 (NAS. PA2/24, f.97r-97v.)", The Records of
the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, University of St Andrews,
retrieved 5 August 2016
* Bryant, Mark (2001), Private Lives, London: Cassell, ISBN
* Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "East India Company", Encyclopædia
Britannica , 8 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 834–835
* 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, VI,
London: St Catherine Press CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list
* Doble, C. E., ed. (1885), Remarks and Collections of Thomas
Hearne, 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press for the
* Edie, Carolyn (1965), "Succession and Monarchy: The Controversy of 1679–1681", American Historical Review, 70 (2): 350–370, JSTOR 1845634 * Hanrahan, David C. (2006), Charles II and the Duke of Buckingham: The Merry Monarch and the Aristocratic Rogue, Stroud: Sutton, ISBN 0-7509-3916-8 * Harris, Tim (2005), Restoration: Charles II and his kingdoms, 1660–1685, London: Allen Lane, ISBN 0-7139-9191-7 * Keay, Anna (2008), The Magnificent Monarch: Charles II and the Ceremonies of Power, London: Hambledon Continuum, ISBN 978-1-84725-225-8 * Kenyon, J. P. (1957), "Review Article: The Reign of Charles II", Cambridge Historical Journal, XIII: 82–86 * Miller, John (1985), Restoration England: the reign of Charles II, London: Longman, ISBN 0-582-35396-3 * Ogg, David (1955), England in the Reign of Charles II (2nd ed.), Clarendon Press * Wilson, Derek (2003), All The King's Women: Love, Sex and Politics in the Life of Charles II, London: Hutchinson, ISBN 0-09-179379-3
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