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Charles II
Charles is of thin build and has chest-length curly black hair
Charles in Garter robes, c. 1660–1665
King of England, Scotland and Ireland
Reign29 May 1660[a]
6 February 1685
Coronation23 April 1661
PredecessorCharles I
SuccessorJames II & VII
King of Scotland
Reign30 January 1649 –
3 September 1651[b]
Coronation1 January 1651
PredecessorCharles I
SuccessorMilitary government
Born29 May 1630
(N.S.: 8 June 1630)
St James's Palace, Westminster, England
Died6 February 1685 (aged 54)
(N.S.: 16 February 1685)
Whitehall Palace, Westminster, England
Burial14 February 1685
(m. 1662)​
Illegitimate children
FatherCharles I of England
MotherHenrietta Maria of France
SignatureCharles II's signature

Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685)[c] was King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651 and King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685.

Charles II was the eldest surviving child of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Henrietta Maria of France. After Charles I's execution at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War, the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on 5 February 1649. However, England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, with a government led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell defeated Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands. A political crisis after Cromwell's death in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, and Charles was invited to return to Britain. On 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday, he was received in London to public acclaim. After 1660, all legal documents stating a regnal year did so as if he had succeeded his father as king in 1649.

Charles's English parliament enacted the Clarendon Code, to shore up the position of the re-established Church of England. Charles acquiesced to these new laws even though he favoured a policy of religious tolerance. The major foreign policy issue of his early reign was the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1670, he entered into the Treaty of Dover, an alliance with his cousin, King Louis XIV of France. Louis agreed to aid him in the Third Anglo-Dutch War and pay him a pension, and Charles secretly promised to convert to Catholicism at an unspecified future date. Charles attempted to introduce religious freedom for Catholics and Protestant dissenters with his 1672 Royal Declaration of Indulgence, but the English Parliament forced him to withdraw it. In 1679, Titus Oates's fabrication of a supposed Popish Plot sparked the Exclusion Crisis when it was revealed that Charles's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, had become a Catholic. The crisis saw the birth of the pro-exclusion Whig and anti-exclusion Tory parties. Charles sided with the Tories and, after the discovery of the Rye House Plot to murder Charles and James in 1683, some Whig leaders were executed or forced into exile. Charles dissolved the English Parliament in 1681 and ruled alone until his death in 1685.

Following his restoration, Charles became known for his affability and friendliness, and for allowing his subjects easy access to his person. However, he also showed an almost impenetrable reserve, especially concerning his political agendas. His court gained a reputation for moral laxity.[1] Charles's marriage to Catherine of Braganza produced no surviving children, but the king acknowledged at least 12 illegitimate children by various mistresses. He was succeeded by his brother James.

Early life, civil war and exile

Baby in white christening robe
Charles as an infant in 1630, painting attributed to Justus van Egmont

Charles was born at St James's Palace on 29 May 1630, eldest surviving son of Charles I, king of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his wife Henrietta Maria, sister of Louis XIII of France. Charles was their second child (the first being a son born about a year before, who had died within a day).[2] He was baptised on 27 June in the Chapel Royal by William Laud, a future archbishop of Canterbury, and during his infancy was supervised by the Protestant Countess of Dorset. His godparents included his maternal uncle Louis XIII and maternal grandmother, Marie de' Medici, the Dowager Queen of France, both of whom were Catholics.[3] At birth, Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, and the possessor of several other associated titles. At or around his eighth birthday, he was designated Prince of Wales, though he was never formally invested.[2]

In August 1642, the long-running dispute between Charles I and Parliament culminated in the outbreak of the First English Civil War. In October, Prince Charles and his younger brother James were present at the Battle of Edgehill and spent the next two years based in the Royalist capital of Oxford. In January 1645, Charles was given his own Council and made titular head of Royalist forces in the West Country.[4] By spring 1646, most of the region had been occupied by Parliamentarian forces and Charles went into exile to avoid capture. From Falmouth, he went first to the Isles of Scilly, then to Jersey, and finally to France, where his mother was already living under the protection of his first cousin, the eight-year-old Louis XIV.[5] Charles I surrendered into captivity in May 1646.

During the Second English Civil War in 1648, 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.[6] Although part of the Parliamentarian fleet defected, it did not reach Scotland in time to join up with the Royalist Engager army led by the Duke of Hamilton before it was defeated at Preston by the New Model Army.[7]

Charles as a boy with shoulder-length black hair and standing in a martial pose
Portrait by William Dobson, c. 1642 or 1643

At The Hague, Charles had a brief affair with Lucy Walter, who later falsely claimed that they had secretly married.[8] Her son, James Crofts (afterwards Duke of Monmouth and Duke of Buccleuch), was one of Charles's many illegitimate children who became prominent in British society.[2] Despite his son's diplomatic efforts to save him, the execution of Charles I took place in January 1649, and England became a republic. On 5 February, the Covenanter Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II as "King of Great Britain, France and Ireland" at the Mercat Cross, Edinburgh,[9] but refused to allow him to enter Scotland unless he agreed to establish Presbyterianism as the state religion in all three of his kingdoms.

When negotiations with the Scots stalled, Charles authorised Lord 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.[10] Charles was provided with a Scottish court, and the record of his food and household expenses at Falkland Palace and Perth survives.[11]

Cast gold coronation medal of Charles II, dated 1651

Charles's Scottish coronation led to the Anglo-Scottish War of 1650 to 1652. On 3 September 1650, the Covenanters were defeated at Dunbar by a much smaller force commanded by Oliver Cromwell. The Scots were divided between moderate Engagers and the more radical Kirk Party, who even fought each other. Disillusioned by these divisions, Charles rode north to join an Engager force in October, an event which became known as "the Start", but within two days members of the Kirk Party had recovered him.[12] Nevertheless, the Scots remained Charles's best hope of restoration, and he was crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey on 1 January 1651. With Cromwell's forces threatening Charles's position in Scotland, it was decided to mount an attack on England, but many of their most experienced soldiers had been excluded on religious grounds by the Kirk Party, whose leaders also refused to participate, among them Lord Argyll. Opposition to what was primarily a Scottish army meant few English Royalists joined as it moved south, and the invasion ended in defeat at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651. Charles managed to escape and landed in Normandy six weeks later on 16 October, even though there was a reward of £1,000 on his head, anyone caught helping him was at risk of being put to death, and he was difficult to disguise, being over 6 ft (1.8 m), which was unusually tall for the time.[13][d]

Charles in exile, painted by Philippe de Champaigne, c. 1653

Under the Instrument of Government passed by Parliament, Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1653, effectively placing the British Isles under military rule. Charles lived a life of leisure at Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris,[15] living on a grant from Louis XIV of 600 livres a month.[16] Charles could not obtain sufficient finance or support to mount a serious challenge to Cromwell's government. Despite the Stuart family connections through Henrietta Maria and the Princess of Orange, France and the Dutch Republic allied themselves with Cromwell's government from 1654, forcing Charles to leave France and turn to Spain for aid, which at that time ruled the Southern Netherlands.[17]

Charles made the Treaty of Brussels with Spain in 1656. This gathered Spanish support for a restoration in return for Charles's contribution to the war against France. Charles raised a ragtag army from his exiled subjects; this small, underpaid, poorly-equipped and ill-disciplined force formed the nucleus of the post-Restoration army.[18] The Commonwealth made the Treaty of Paris with France in 1657 to join them in war against Spain in the Netherlands. Royalist supporters in the Spanish force were led by Charles's younger brother James, Duke of York.[19] At the Battle of the Dunes in 1658, as part of the larger Spanish force, Charles's army of around 2,000 clashed with Commonwealth troops fighting with the French. By the end of the battle Charles's force was about 1,000 and with Dunkirk given to the English the prospect of a Royalist expedition to England was dashed.[20]


After the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, Charles's initial chances of regaining the Crown seemed slim; Cromwell was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard. However, the new Lord Protector had little experience of either military or civil administration. In 1659, the Rump Parliament was recalled and Richard Cromwell resigned. During the civil and military unrest that followed, George Monck, the Governor of Scotland, was concerned that the nation would descend into anarchy.[21] Monck and his army marched into the City of London, and forced the Rump Parliament to re-admit members of the Long Parliament who had been excluded in December 1648, during Pride's Purge. Parliament dissolved itself, and there was a general election for the first time in almost 20 years.[22] The outgoing Parliament defined the electoral qualifications intending to bring about the return of a Presbyterian majority.[23]

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.[23] The so-called Convention Parliament assembled on 25 April 1660, and soon afterwards welcomed the Declaration of Breda, in which Charles promised lenience and tolerance. There would be liberty of conscience, and Anglican church policy would not be harsh. He would not exile past enemies nor confiscate their wealth. There would be pardons for nearly all his opponents except the regicides. Above all, Charles promised to rule in cooperation with Parliament.[24] The English Parliament resolved to proclaim Charles king and invite him to return, a message that reached Charles at Breda on 8 May 1660.[25] In Ireland, a convention had been called earlier in the year and had already declared for Charles. On 14 May, he was proclaimed king in Dublin.[26]

Seascape of vessels along a low-lying coastline
Charles sailed from his exile in the Netherlands to his restoration in England in May 1660. Painting by Lieve Verschuier.

Charles set out for England from Scheveningen, arrived in Dover on 25 May 1660 and reached London on 29 May, his 30th birthday. Although Charles and Parliament granted amnesty to nearly all of Cromwell's supporters in the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, 50 people were specifically excluded.[27] In the end nine of the regicides were executed:[28] they were hanged, drawn and quartered, whereas others were given life imprisonment or excluded from office for life. The bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw were subjected to posthumous decapitations.[29]

The English Parliament granted Charles an annual income to run the government of £1.2 million,[30] 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[30] and raising money through unpopular innovations such as the hearth tax.[26]

In the latter half of 1660, Charles's joy at the Restoration was tempered by the deaths of his siblings Henry and Mary of smallpox. At around the same time, Anne Hyde, the daughter of 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.[31]

Clarendon Code

Charles wearing a crown and ermine-lined robe
Coronation portrait: Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661.[32]

The Convention Parliament was dissolved in December 1660, and, shortly after Charles's English coronation, the second English Parliament of the reign assembled. Dubbed the Cavalier Parliament, it was overwhelmingly Royalist and Anglican. It sought to discourage non-conformity to the Church of England and passed several acts to secure Anglican dominance. The Corporation Act 1661 required municipal officeholders to swear allegiance;[33] the Act of Uniformity 1662 made the use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer compulsory; the Conventicle Act 1664 prohibited religious assemblies of more than five people, except under the auspices of the Church of England; and the Five Mile Act 1665 prohibited expelled non-conforming clergymen from coming within five miles (8 km) of a parish from which they had been banished. The Conventicle and Five Mile Acts remained in effect for the remainder of Charles's reign. The Acts became known as the Clarendon Code, after Lord Clarendon, even though he was not directly responsible for them and even spoke against the Five Mile Act.[34]

The Restoration was accompanied by social change. Puritanism lost its momentum. Theatres reopened after having been closed during the protectorship of Oliver Cromwell, and bawdy "Restoration comedy" became a recognisable genre. Theatre licences granted by Charles required that female parts be played by "their natural performers", rather than by boys as was often the practice before;[35] and Restoration literature celebrated or reacted to the restored court, which included libertines such as Lord Rochester. Of Charles II, Rochester supposedly said:

We have a pretty, witty king,
Whose word no man relies on,
He never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one[36]

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".[37]

Great Plague and Great Fire

In 1665, the Great Plague of London began, peaking in September with up to 7,000 deaths per week.[38] Charles, his family, and the court fled London in July to Salisbury; Parliament met in Oxford.[39] Plague cases ebbed over the winter, and Charles returned to London in February 1666.[40]

After a long spell of hot and dry weather through mid-1666, the Great Fire of London started on 2 September 1666 in Pudding Lane. Fanned by strong winds and fed by wood and fuel stockpiled for winter, the fire destroyed about 13,200 houses and 87 churches, including St Paul's Cathedral.[41] Charles and his brother James joined and directed the firefighting effort. The public blamed Catholic conspirators for the fire.[42]

Foreign policy and marriage

Charles and Catherine

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 in the 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.[43] On 23 June 1661, a marriage treaty was signed; England acquired Catherine's dowry of the port of Tangier in North Africa, the Seven Islands of Bombay in India (which had a major influence on the development of the British Empire), valuable trading privileges in Brazil and the East Indies, religious and commercial freedom in Portugal and two million Portuguese crowns (equivalent to £300,000 then[e]); while Portugal obtained military and naval support against Spain and liberty of worship for Catherine.[45] Catherine journeyed from Portugal to Portsmouth on 13–14 May 1662,[45] but was not visited by Charles there until 20 May. The next day the couple were married at Portsmouth in two ceremonies—a Catholic one conducted in secret, followed by a public Anglican service.[45]

The same year, in an unpopular move, Charles sold Dunkirk to his first cousin King Louis XIV of France for about £375,000.[46] The channel port, although a valuable strategic outpost, was a drain on Charles's limited finances, as it cost the Treasury £321,000 per year.[47]

Obverse of medal
Charles II in profile on a medal struck in 1667 by John Roettier to commemorate the Second Dutch War

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.[48] 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 New Amsterdam (renamed New York in honour of Charles's brother James, Duke of York) and a victory at the Battle of Lowestoft, but in 1667 the Dutch launched a surprise attack on England (the Raid on the Medway) when they sailed up the River Thames to where a major part of the English fleet was docked. Almost all of the ships were sunk except for the flagship, Royal Charles, which was taken back to the Netherlands as a prize.[f] The Second Dutch War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Breda.

As a result of the Second Dutch War, Charles dismissed Lord Clarendon, whom he used as a scapegoat for the war.[49] 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 CabalClifford, 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.[50]

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 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".[51] 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.[52] It remains unclear if Charles ever seriously intended to convert.[53]

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.[54] Earlier in 1668 he leased the islands of Bombay to the company for a nominal sum of £10 paid in gold.[55] The Portuguese territories that Catherine brought with her as a dowry proved too expensive to maintain; Tangier was abandoned in 1684.[56] In 1670, Charles granted control of the entire Hudson Bay drainage basin to the Hudson's Bay Company by royal charter, and named the territory Rupert's Land, after his cousin Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the company's first governor.[57]

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.[58]

The Cavalier Parliament opposed the Declaration of Indulgence on constitutional grounds by claiming that the king had no right to arbitrarily suspend laws passed by Parliament. Charles withdrew the Declaration, and also agreed to the Test Act, which not only required public officials to receive the sacrament under the forms prescribed by the Church of England,[59] but also later forced them to denounce transubstantiation and the Catholic Mass as "superstitious and idolatrous".[60] Clifford, who had converted to Catholicism, resigned rather than take the oath, and died shortly after, possibly from suicide.

By 1674, England had gained nothing from the Anglo-Dutch War, and the Cavalier Parliament refused to provide further funds, forcing Charles to make peace. The power of the Cabal waned and that of Clifford's replacement, Lord Danby grew, as did opposition towards him and the court. Politicians and peers believed that Charles II favoured a pro-French foreign policy that desired to emulate the absolutist (and Catholic) sovereignty of Louis XIV. In numerous pamphlets and parliamentary speeches between 1675 and 1678, "popery and arbitrary government" were decried for fear of the loss of English liberties and freedoms.[61]

Charles accepts a pineapple from a kneeling man in front of a grand country house
Charles was presented with the first pineapple grown in England in 1675. Painting by Hendrick Danckerts.

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.[2] 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.[62] In 1678, Titus Oates, who had been alternately an Anglican and Jesuit priest, falsely warned of a "Popish Plot" to assassinate the king, even accusing the queen of complicity. Charles did not believe the allegations, but ordered his chief minister Lord Danby to investigate. While Danby seems to have been rightly sceptical about Oates's claims, the Cavalier Parliament took them seriously.[63] The people were seized with an anti-Catholic hysteria;[64] judges and juries across the land condemned the supposed conspirators; numerous innocent individuals were executed.[65]

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 Cavalier Parliament in January 1679.[66]

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.[67]


Oil portrait of Charles with heavy jowls, a wig of long black curls and in a suit of armour
Portrait by John Riley, c. 1683–1684

In Charles's early childhood, William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle, was governor of the royal household and Brian Duppa, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, was his tutor.[68] Neither man thought that the study of science subjects was appropriate for a future king,[69] and Newcastle even advised against studying any subject too seriously.[70] However, as Charles grew older, the renowned surgeon William Harvey was appointed his tutor.[68][71] He was famous for his work on blood circulation in the human body and already held the position of physician to Charles I; his studies were to influence Charles's own attitude to science. As the king's chief physician, Harvey accompanied Charles I to the Battle of Edgehill and, although some details are uncertain,[72][73] he had charge of Prince Charles and the Duke of York in the morning,[74] but the two boys were back with the king for the start of battle.[75][76] Later in the afternoon, with their father concerned for their safety, the two princes left the battlefield accompanied by Sir W. Howard and his pensioners.[77]

During his exile, in France, Charles continued his education, including physics, chemistry and mathematics.[78] His tutors included the cleric John Earle, well known for his satirical book Microcosmographie, with whom he studied Latin and Greek, and Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher and author of Leviathan, with whom he studied mathematics.[79] In France, Charles assisted his childhood friend, the Earl of Buckingham, with his experiments in chemistry and alchemy,[80] with the Earl convinced he was close to producing the philosopher's stone. Although some of Charles's studies, while abroad, may have helped to pass the time,[81] on his return to England he was already knowledgeable in the mathematics of navigation and was a competent chemist.[82] Such was his knowledge of naval architecture that he was able to participate in technical discussions on the subject with Samuel Pepys, William Petty and John Evelyn.[83]

The new concepts and discoveries being found at this time fascinated Charles,[84] not only in science and medicine, but in topics such as botany and gardening.[71][85] A French traveller, Sorbier, while visiting the English court, was astonished by the extent of the king's knowledge.[86] The king freely indulged in his many interests, including astronomy, which had been stimulated by a visit to Gresham College, in October 1660, to see the telescopes made by the astronomer Sir Paul Neile.[87] Charles was so impressed by what he saw that he ordered his own 36' telescope which he had installed in the Privy Garden at Whitehall.[88] He would invite his friends and acquaintances to view the heavens through his new telescope and, in May 1661, Evelyn describes his visit to the Garden, with several other scientists, to view Saturn's rings.[89] Charles also had a laboratory installed, in Whitehall, within easy access to his bedroom.[90][88][91]

From the beginning of his reign, Charles appointed experts to assist him in his scientific pursuits. These included: Timothy Clarke, a celebrated anatomist, who performed some dissections for the king;[92] Robert Morison as his chief botanist (Charles had his own botanical garden);[85] Edmund Dickinson, a chemist and alchemist, who was tasked with carrying out experiments in the king's laboratory;[93] [94] Sir Thomas Williams, who was skillful in compounding and inventing medicines, some of which were prepared in the royal presence;[95] and Nicasius le Febure (or Nicolas LeFevre), who was invited to England as royal professor of chemistry and apothecary to the king's household.[96] Evelyn visited his laboratory with the king.[97]

In addition to his many other interests, the king was fascinated by clock mechanisms[71] and had clocks distributed all around Whitehall, including seven of them in his bedroom.[98] Robert Bruce (later Earl of Ailesbury), a Gentleman of the Bedchamber, complained that the continual noise of the clocks chiming disturbed his sleep, whenever it was necessary for him to stay close by to the king.[99] Also, Charles had a sundial installed in the Privy Garden,[100] by which he could set his personal pocket watch.[101] (For a while, the king personally recorded the performance of the latest spring-balance watch, presented to him by Robert Hooke.[102])

In 1662, Charles was pleased to grant a royal charter to a group of scientists and others who had established a formal society in 1660 to give a more academic and learned approach to science and to conduct experiments in physics and mathematics.[91][103] Sir Robert Moray, a member of Charles's court, played an important part in achieving this outcome, and he was to be the first president of this new Royal Society. Over the years, Moray was an important go-between for Charles and the Society,[104] and his standing with the king was so high that he was given access to the royal laboratory to perform his own experiments there.[105]

Charles never attended a Society meeting,[106] but he remained aware of the activities there from his discussions with Society members, especially Moray.[100] In addition, Robert Boyle gave him a private viewing of the Boyle/Hooke air-pump,[107][108] which was used at many of the Wednesday meetings. However, Charles preferred experiments that had an immediate practical outcome[101] and he laughed at the efforts of the Society members "to weigh air".[109] He seemed unable to grasp the significance of the basic laws of physics being established at that time, including Boyle's Law and Hooke's Law and the concept of atmospheric pressure[107] and the barometer[110] and the importance of air for the support of life.[108]

Although Charles lost interest in the activities of the society, he continued to support scientific and commercial endeavours. He founded the Mathematical School at Christ's Hospital in 1673 and, two years later, following concerns over French advances in astronomy, he founded the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.[111] He maintained an interest in chemistry and regularly visited his private laboratory.[88][91] There, dissections were occasionally carried out, and observed by the king.[98] Pepys noted in his diary that on the morning of Friday, 15 January 1669, while he was walking to Whitehall, he met the king who invited him to view his chemistry laboratory. Pepys confessed to finding what he saw there beyond him.[112]

Charles developed painful gout in later life which limited the daily walks that he took regularly when younger. His keenness was now channelled to his laboratory where he would devote himself to his experiments, for hours at a time,[113][114] sometimes helped by Moray.[115] Charles was particularly interested in alchemy, which he had first encountered many years earlier, during his exile with the Duke of Buckingham. Charles resumed his experiments with mercury and would spend whole mornings attempting to distill it. Heating mercury in an open crucible releases mercury vapour, which is toxic and may have contributed to his later ill health.[116][117]

Later 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 the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (previously Baron Ashley and a member of the Cabal, which had fallen apart in 1673). Lord 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).[118]

Absolute monarch

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 assembled at Oxford in March 1681, Charles dissolved it for a fourth time after just a few days.[119] During the 1680s, however, popular support for the Exclusion Bill ebbed, and Charles experienced a nationwide surge of loyalty. Lord Shaftesbury was prosecuted (albeit unsuccessfully) for treason in 1681 and later fled to Holland, where he died. For the remainder of his reign, Charles ruled without Parliament.[120]

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.[121] Protestant politicians such as the Earl of Essex, Algernon Sydney, Lord Russell and the Duke of Monmouth were implicated in the plot. 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.[122] Titus Oates was convicted and imprisoned for defamation.[123]

Thus through the last years of Charles's reign, his approach towards his opponents changed, and he was compared by Whigs to the contemporary Louis XIV of France, with his form of government in those years termed "slavery". Many of them were prosecuted and their estates seized, with Charles replacing judges and sheriffs at will and packing juries to achieve conviction. To destroy opposition in London, Charles first disenfranchised many Whigs in the 1682 municipal elections, and in 1683 the London charter was forfeited. In retrospect, the use of the judicial system by Charles (and later his brother and heir James) as a tool against opposition, helped establish the idea of separation of powers between the judiciary and the Crown in Whig thought.[124]


Charles suffered a sudden apoplectic fit on the morning of 2 February 1685, and died four days later at the Palace of Whitehall, at 11:45 am, aged 54.[125] The suddenness of his illness and death led to suspicion of poison in the minds of many, including one of the royal doctors, but 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.[126] Charles had a laboratory among his many interests where, prior to his illness, he had been experimenting with mercury. Mercuric poisoning can produce irreversible kidney damage, but the case for that being a cause of his death is unproven.[127] In the days between his collapse and his death, Charles endured a variety of torturous treatments, including bloodletting, purging and cupping, in the hope of effecting a recovery,[128] which may have exacerbated his uraemia through dehydration, rather than helping to alleviate it.[129]

On his deathbed, Charles asked his brother, James, to look after his mistresses: "be well to Portsmouth, and let not poor Nelly starve".[130] He told his courtiers, "I am sorry, gentlemen, for being such a time a-dying",[131] and expressed regret at his treatment of his wife. On the last evening of his life he was received into the Catholic Church, in the presence of Father John Huddleston, though the extent to which he was fully conscious or committed, and with whom the idea originated, is unclear.[132] He was buried in Westminster Abbey "without any manner of pomp"[131] on 14 February.[133]

Charles was succeeded by his brother James II and VII.[134]


Lead equestrian statue
Statue of Charles II as a Roman Caesar, erected 1685, Parliament Square, Edinburgh

The escapades of Charles after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester remained important to him throughout his life. He delighted and bored listeners with tales of his escape for many years. Numerous accounts of his adventures were published, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the Restoration. Though not averse to his escape being ascribed to divine providence, Charles himself seems to have delighted most in his ability to sustain his disguise as a man of ordinary origins, and to move unrecognised through his realm. Ironic and cynical, Charles took pleasure in stories that demonstrated the undetectable nature of any inherent majesty he possessed.[135]

Charles had no legitimate children, but acknowledged a dozen by seven mistresses,[136] including five by Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, for whom the Dukedom of Cleveland was created. His other mistresses included Moll Davis, Nell Gwyn, Elizabeth Killigrew, Catherine Pegge, Lucy Walter and Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. As a result, in his lifetime he was often nicknamed "Old Rowley", the name of his favourite racehorse, notable as a stallion.[137]

Charles's subjects resented paying taxes that were spent on his mistresses and their children,[138] many of whom received dukedoms or earldoms. The present Dukes of Buccleuch, Richmond, Grafton and St Albans descend from Charles in unbroken male line.[139] Charles II is an ancestor of both King Charles III's first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales,[g] and his second wife, Queen Camilla. Charles and Diana's son, William, Prince of Wales, is likely to be the first British monarch descended from Charles II.

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 Glorious Revolution.

Gilt statue
Statue of Charles II (c. 1682) in ancient Roman dress by Grinling Gibbons at the Royal Hospital Chelsea

In the words of his contemporary John Evelyn, "a prince of many virtues and many great imperfections, debonair, easy of access, not bloody or cruel".[140] John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, wrote more lewdly of Charles:

Restless he rolls from whore to whore
A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.[141]

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. Professor Ronald Hutton summarises a polarised historiography:

For the past hundred years, books on Charles II have been sharply divided into two categories. Academic historians have concentrated mainly on his activities as a statesman and emphasised his duplicity, self-indulgence, poor judgement and lack of an aptitude for business or for stable and trustworthy government. Non-academic authors have concentrated mainly on his social and cultural world, emphasising his charm, affability, worldliness, tolerance, turning him into one of the most popular of all English monarchs in novels, plays and films.[142]

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.[143]

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.[144] Charles II is depicted extensively in art, literature and media. Charleston, South Carolina, and South Kingstown, Rhode Island, are named after him. King Charles's Island and Charles Island are previous names of both Floreana Island and Española Island in the Galapagos Archipelago, both in his honour.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

The official style of Charles II was "Charles the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc."[145] The claim to France was only nominal, and had been asserted by every English monarch since Edward III, regardless of the amount of French territory actually controlled.



Charles's coat of arms as Prince of Wales was the royal arms (which he later inherited), differenced by a label of three points Argent.[146] His arms as monarch were: Quarterly, I and IV Grandquarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England); II Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); III Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland).

Coat of arms as Prince of Wales
Coat of arms of Charles II as king (outside Scotland)
Coat of arms of Charles II used as king in Scotland


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. Monmouth was born nine months after Walter and Charles II first met, and was acknowledged as his son by Charles II, but James II suggested that he was the son of another of her lovers, Colonel Robert Sidney, rather than Charles. Lucy Walter had a daughter, Mary Crofts, born after James in 1651, but Charles II was not the father, since he and Walter parted in September 1649.[2]

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

By Catherine Pegge:

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

By Nell Gwyn (1650–1687):

Louise de Kérouaille with unknown attendant, painted in France by Pierre Mignard, 1682[151]

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

By Mary 'Moll' Davis, courtesan and actress of repute:[152]

Other probable mistresses include:

Letters claiming that Marguerite or Margaret de Carteret bore Charles a son named James de la Cloche in 1646 are dismissed by historians as forgeries.[158]

Genealogical tables

The House of Stuart and their relations[159]
James I of England
Anne of Denmark
Henry IV of France
Marie de' Medici
Charles I of England
Henrietta Maria of France
Louis XIII of France
Rupert of the Rhine
Sophia of Hanover
Charles II of England
William II of Orange
Anne Hyde
James II of England
Mary of Modena
Philip I of Orléans
Louis XIV of France
George I of Great Britain
William III of England
Mary II of England
Anne of Great Britain
James Francis Edward
Marie Louise of Orléans
Anne Marie of Orléans


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ From the death of his father to his defeat at the Battle of Worcester
  3. ^ All dates in this article unless otherwise noted are given in the Julian calendar with the start of year adjusted to 1 January (see Old Style and New Style dates).
  4. ^ One thousand pounds was a vast sum at the time, greater than an average workman's lifetime earnings.[14]
  5. ^ Equivalent to between £42.7 million (real cost) and £12.7 billion (economic share) as of 2021.[44]
  6. ^ The ship's transom is on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
  7. ^ Diana was descended from two of Charles II's illegitimate sons: the Dukes of Grafton and Richmond.


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Works cited

Further reading

  • Edie, Carolyn (1965). "Succession and Monarchy: The Controversy of 1679–1681". American Historical Review. 70 (2): 350–370. doi:10.2307/1845634. 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. doi:10.1017/S1474691300000068.
  • Miller, John (1985). Restoration England: The Reign of Charles II. London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-35396-3.
  • Ogg, David (1934). England in the Reign of Charles II. Oxford University Press.
    • —— (1955). England in the Reigns of James II and William III. Oxford University Press.
  • Ollard, Richard (1966). The Escape of Charles II After the Battle of Worcester. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
    • —— (1979). The Image of the King: Charles I and Charles II. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Pepys, Samuel (1956). King Charles Preserved: An Account of his Escape after the Battle of Worcester dictated by the King Himself to Samuel Pepys. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: The Rodale Press.. Dictated in 1680.
  • 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.
  • Yorke, Philip Chesney (1911). "Charles II." . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 912–916.

External links

42 Annotations

First Reading

helena murphy  •  Link

Charles II was born on May 29th 1630 at Saint James's palace in London.He was the first surviving child of Charles I and his French Queen Henrietta Maria. He had a happy and secure childhood with his brothers James and Henry and his sisters Elizabeth and Mary. During his boyhood he often witnessed his father govern in the banqueting room at Whitehall.However the 1630's was a difficult time for Charles as his perogative was being increasingly challenged as regards taxation, the established church, foreign policy and command of the army by the presbyterian and puritan factions in parliament.Civil war broke out in 1642 and the young prince of Wales was present at the Battle of Edgehill but he was too young to participate. After the royalist defeat at Naseby in 1645 his father urged him to go to France for his personal safety. After the execution of the king the jprince was declared Charles II by all royalists and he was determined to recover his birthright. He hoped to do this with the help of a Scottish army so he landed in Scotland where he was crowned king at scone on New Year's jDay 1651. Sadly he was defeated at Worcester by cromwell, Fleetwood and Lambert. He managed to escape to the continent but he was seen as a mere penniless refugee by Cardinal Mazarin who ruled France all but in name. When the Fronde broke out c.1648-1652 he had to leave paris. This was a national rebellion by the princes of the blood who wanted a greater say in running the country, unlke the republican rebellion in England. He went to The Hague for a while but he had to constantly move from placeto place as the Commonwealth was gaining incresing respectability. With hopes of a French alliance lost he hoped to court the Spanish and raise an army with their help from royalist soldiers and officers who were sharing his fate on the continent. When Spain was defeated at the battle of the Dunes in 1658 by France and England he was quite demoralised. However he was supported in his exile by such astute intelligent men as Edward Hyde and James Butler later Duke of Ormond. Cromwell died in 1658 and during the protectorate of Richard Cromwell the tide began to turn. England was tiring of radicalism, military coups and war.
The king was invited back to his kingdom by parliament and General monk. Charles sailed from holland on board the Royal Charles with his two
brothers Sir Edward Montague General at sea and Pepys. When he arrived in Dover he lovingly greeted monk with the word "father". He entered London on his thirtieth birthday and never left England again. He died in 1685 and was succeded by his brother James Duke of York as he did not have legitimate issue from his marriage to Catherine of Braganza.

Susanna  •  Link

Antonia Fraser wrote an excellent biography of him, "Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration." There is also an interesting picture of him provided by Ronald Hutton for the BBC:…

Philip Somervail  •  Link

I recently re-read ‘The Escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester’ by Richard Ollard (1966, reissued 2002), and can thoroughly recommend it as a fast-moving, gripping account of the King’s time on the run in 1651, from Worcester to (eventually) France. The King recounted his story to none other than Pepys, many years after the event, and it is clear that his memory of those days was still vivid. (Looking at… I see that a number of copies of this book are available – and indeed that Mr Ollard has written other books on Charles II, and indeed a biography of Pepys too.)

steve h  •  Link

From Macaulay's portrait of Charles II…

"The motives which governed the political conduct of Charles the Second differed widely from those by which his predecessor and his successor were actuated. He was not a man to be imposed upon by the patriarchal theory of government and the doctrine of divine right. He was utterly without ambition. He detested business, and would sooner have abdicated his crown than have undergone the trouble of really directing the administration. Such was his aversion to toil, and such his ignorance of affairs, that the very clerks who attended him when he sate in council could not refrain from sneering at his frivolous remarks, and at his childish impatience. Neither gratitude nor revenge had any share in determining his course; for never was there a mind on which both services and injuries left such faint and transitory impressions. He wished merely to be a King such as Lewis the Fifteenth of France afterwards was; a King who could draw without limit on the treasury for the gratification of his private tastes, who could hire with wealth and honours persons capable of assisting him to kill the time, and who, even when the state was brought by maladministration to the depths of humiliation and to the brink of ruin, could still exclude unwelcome truth from the purlieus of his own seraglio, and refuse to see and hear whatever might disturb his luxurious repose. For these ends, and for these ends alone, he wished to obtain arbitrary power, if it could be obtained without risk or trouble. In the religious disputes which divided his Protestant subjects his conscience was not at all interested. For his opinions oscillated in contented suspense between infidelity and Popery. But, though his conscience was neutral in the quarrel between the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians, his taste was by no means so. His favourite vices were precisely those to which the Puritans were least indulgent. He could not get through one day without the help of diversions which the Puritans regarded as sinful."

JaniceThomson  •  Link

Many have judged Charles II far less harshly than Macaulay. See last chapter of Ollard's "Charles II" (1931)A good recent biography is "Royal Survivor" by Stephen Coote.

Pedro.  •  Link

For a more light-hearted vision of Charlie.

Charlie the second
Was one for the girls
He gave them all rubies
He gave them all pearls
He gave them all babies
In quite large amounts
Thus creating the peerage
Of Dukes, Earls and Counts…

Lynn  •  Link

By my reckoning, Charles II is Prince Charles's 1st cousin 10 times removed. He's Diana Spencer's 8th Great-Grandfather (and therefore William and Harry's 9th Great-Grandfather) and Charles II is Sarah Ferguson's 10th Great-Grandfather (and therefore Beatrice and Eugine's 11th Great-Grandfather). Do correct me if I'm wrong!

richard holden  •  Link

Charles fornicated while London burned, eh Nero.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Charles II modesty?

"Now I am speaking to you of My own good Husbandry, I must tell you, that will not be enough: I cannot but observe to you, that the whole Nation seems to Me a little corrupted in their Excess of Living. Sure all Men spend much more, in their Cloaths, in their Diet, in all their Expences, than they have used to do. I hope it hath only been the Excess of Joy, after so long Sufferings, that hath transported us to these other Excesses. But let us take Heed, that the Continuance of them doth not indeed corrupt our Natures. I do believe I have been faulty that Way Myself: I promise you, I will reform; and if you will join with Me in your several Capacities, We shall by Our Examples do more Good, both in City and Country, than any new Laws would do. I tell you again, I will do My Part; and I will tell some of you, if you do not yours. I hope the Laws I have passed this Day will produce some Reformation with reference to the Multitude of Beggars and poor People which infest the Kingdom. Great Severity must be used to those who love (Footnote *) Idleness, and refuse to work; and great Care and Charity towards those who are willing to work. I do very heartily recommend the Execution of those good Laws to your utmost Diligence; and I am sure I need not put you in Mind so to settle the Militia, that all seditious Insurrections may not only be prevented, to which the Minds of too many are inclined, but that the People may be without reasonable Apprehension of such Insecurity....."

From: 'House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 19 May 1662', Journal of the House of Lords: volume 11: 1660-1666, pp. 468-77. URL:…. Date accessed: 20 October 2005.

Jeannine  •  Link

"Charles II modesty" from the file entiled "do as I say, not as I do".....

dirk  •  Link

"An Apologie for the Royal Party" (1659); and "A Panegyric to Charles the Second" (1661)

Edited & with an introduction by Geoffrey Keynes, Los Angeles, 1951. With the original handwritten sidenotes.

Released today on Gutenberg Project (can be read online or downloaded)…

jeannine  •  Link

Two interesting views on the character of Charles II from two men who knew him.
"Burnet on Charles II

Gilbert Burnet included an assessment of Charles's character in his History of My Own Time, published in the 1720's. This earlier version (c.1683) is perhaps more revealing.

He is very affable not only in public but in private, only he talks too much and runs out too long and too far; he has a very ill opinion both of men and women, and so is infinitely distrustful; he thinks the world is governed wholly by interest, and indeed he has known so much of the baseness of mankind that no wonder if he has hard thoughts of them: but when he is satisfied that his interests are likewise become the interests of his ministers, then he delivers him-self up to them in all their humours and revenges...He has often kept up differences amongst his ministers and has balanced his favours pretty equally amongst them...he naturally inclines to refining and loves an intrigue...He loves his ease so much that the great secret of all his ministers is to find out his temper exactly and to be easy to him. He has many odd opinions about religion and morality; he thinks an implicitness in religion is necessary for the safety of gov-ernment and he looks upon all inquisitiveness into these things as mischievous to the state: he thinks all appetites are free and that God will never damn a man for allowing himself a little pleasure...I t>elieve he is no atheist, but that rather he has formed an odd idea of that goodness of (god in his mind; he thinks to be wicked, and to design mischief, is the only thing that God hates...

Halifax on Charles II

Halifax was a minister of Charles during his last years and he thus writes from first hand experience.

He lived with his ministers as he did with his mistresses; he used them, but he was not in love with them. He showed his judgment in this, that he cannot properly be said ever to have had a favourite, though some might look so at a distance...he tied himself no more to them than they did to him, which implied a sufficient liberty on either side...

He had back stairs to convey informations to him, as well as for other uses; and though such informations are sometimes dangerous (especially to a prince that will not take the pains necessary to digest them) yet in the main that humour of hearing everybody against anybody kept those about him in more awe than they would have been without it. I do not believe that ever he trusted any man or any set of men so entirely as not to have some secrets in which they had no share; as this might make him less well served, so in some degree it might make him the less imposed upon."

Quoted from:…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Charles II though a genius, acted in direct opposition to every principle of sound policy; and, even without propensity to tyranny, made no scruple of embracing such measures as were destructive to the civil and religious liberties of his people. He chose rather to be a pensioner to France, than the arbiter of Europe; and to sacrifice the independence of his kingdom, and the happiness of his subjects, than to remit his attachment to indolence and pleasure. He was gay, affable, and polite; and knew how to win the hearts, when he could no longer gain the esteem of mankind. He was so accustomed, for his own ease, to divest himself of his grandeur, that he seemed to have forgot what belonged to his dignity as a king.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1769.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The organization of Charles II's household was recorded in Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin's journal during his visit to London in the Spring of 1669.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs. I apologize if I guessed incorrectly:

The court of England is divided into the king's household, and those of the reigning Queen, of the Queen Mother, of the Duke of York, of the Duchess of York, and of the Duke of Cambridge, son of the Duke of York.


In that of the king there are several offices: among the most considerable that of the Lord Steward is the first, he having plenary authority over all the other officers of the royal household, except those of the chapel, the bedchamber, and the stables. It is competent to him to judge all offences that are committed within the precincts of the palace, with the exception of the City of London, which is exempt by a special privilege from the king.

As a mark of the Lord Steward’s jurisdiction, he carries a white wand in the king's presence, and when he goes out he causes it to be carried by a page, who walks before him uncovered; the Duke of Ormonde at present fills this situation, with a yearly salary of 100/.s sterling, and a table.

The next is that of Lord Chamberlain, at present held by the Earl of Manchester, whose salary is also 100/.s sterling per annum, and a table. He has the superintendence of all the officers of the king's privy chamber (but not of the bedchamber) of the wardrobes in all the royal residences, of the physicians and the barber-surgeons; and to him belongs the direction of all matters relative to the coronation, marriage, and funerals of the royal family.


The third is that of principal Master of the Horse, who was formerly called Constable, which is enjoyed by the Duke of Buckingham, with an annual stipend of 650/.s sterling, and a table. He has the management of all the king's stables and studs, and of the posts throughout the kingdom. The persons who serve in the stables, in whatever situation, are dependent upon him: in public processions he goes immediately behind the king, with a led horse in his hand.

To these 3 all the other officers and servants of the royal household are subordinate.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

PART 2Under the Lord Steward are the clerks, who, to the number of 16, compose the Chamber of Accompts, at the head of which at present is Sir [THOMAS] Clifford [MP], one of the king's privy council, with a yearly stipend of 120/.s sterling, and a table.

He supplies the place of the Lord Chamberlain in his absence. Subordinate to the same are the Master of the Household, and all the other inferior and subaltern officers of the king's household, of whom there are in all 240.
For the personal service of his chamber the king has several gentlemen and officers.

The gentlemen of the bedchamber are chosen by the king, and are for the most part the first peers of the kingdom, distinct from the rest, both by the nature of their duties and by their salaries of 1,000/.s sterling per annum each: they attend in the chamber in rotation, a week at a time, sleeping all night upon a mattress.


Among them are —
The Earl of Bath, with the rank of First Gentleman. [JOHN GRENVILLE… ]
The Duke of Buckingham. [GEORGE VILLIERS… ]
The Duke of Albemarle. [GEORGE MONCK… ]
The Earl of Suffolk. [JAMES HOWARD… ]
The Earl of Berkshire. [THOMAS HOWARD… ]
My Lord Gerard. [CHARLES GERARD… ]
The Duke of Richmond. [CHARLES STEWART… ]
The Duke of Newcastle. [WILLIAM CAVENDISH… ]
The Earl of Ossory. [JAMES BUTLER, SON OF ORMONDE… ]
My Lord Croft[S]. [WILLIAM CROFTS… ]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


There are other inferior officers appointed to the service of the king's chamber, with each his peculiar duties:
Sir Corbet is Deputy Lord of the Bedchamber.

Sir Griffin is Private Treasurer. [POSSIBLY COL. GRIFFIN… ]

Sir [LAURENCE] Hyde, second son of the Earl of Clarendon, is Private Master of the Wardrobe.…

The gentlemen of the Privy Chamber in ordinary are 840 in number, all of them persons of condition, and knights. Twelve of them are obliged to attend upon his majesty every day, and to wait upon him at table, bringing in the dishes; and also when audience is given to ambassadors.

Two of them sleep in the antechamber, and on the authority of the king's word alone, without any other written order, they may arrest the peers of the realm.
The gentlemen who serve in the Bedchamber (besides 6 pages, one of whom has the charge of the royal cabinet) are almost all of them esquires, with a provision of 500/.s sterling.
They are Messrs. Killigrew, Seymour, Elliott, Hamilton, Coventry, and others, making up the number of 12.

Besides these, there are others who wait daily in the chamber called the Presence Chamber, in the quality of porters, called Gentlemen Ushers, and when the Parliament is sitting, they always stand at the door of the Upper House, and also of that where the meetings of the Knights of the Garter are held; and these have under their order the inferior servants of the Bedchamber.

For the service of his table, the king keeps many officers constantly in pay, namely, 5 cup-bearers, 4 carvers, 4 gentlemen, called gentlemen of the king's person, and other servants, called body servants, and servants of the chamber.


Interestingly there is no mention of Mr. Chiffinch, one of Pepys' "friends", who certainly had Charles II's ear and trust.
It is gratifying to see how many of these nobles Pepys interacted with over the years. Often it's who you know that gets things done.


His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

At another point in Cosmo's journal, he talks about Charles II's guards and security:

The king of England, besides those called his bodyguards, has many guards in the palace, for the security of his person, both foot and horse, who receive greater or smaller pay in proportion to their duty. They are employed to mount guard at the gates of the palace, both on the side of St. James's Park and that of Whitehall Place, and to escort his majesty whenever he goes out on horseback or in his carriage through the city.


In the hall called the Guard Room, is the guard of the Manica or sleeve (yeomen of the guard) consisting of 250 handsome men, the tallest and strongest that can be found in England; they are called, in jest, Beef-eaters, that is, eaters of beef, of which a considerable portion is allowed them by the court every day.

These carry an halberd when they are in London, and in the country a half-pike, with a broad sword by their sides; and, before the king had his body guard, they escorted bis carriage.

They are dressed in a livery of red cloth, made according to the ancient fashion, and faced with black velvet; they wear on their back the king's cipher in embroidery, that is, Charles Rex, and on their breast the white and red rose, the emblem of the royal family ever since the union of the two Houses of York and Lancaster, which followed on the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth, only daughter of Edward IV, first king of the white rose.


By means of this marriage, an end was put to the ancient feuds between those two families, which, by their quarrels, had long kept England divided against itself. Under the title of the White Rose, was designated the House of York, and under that of the Red Rose, the House of Lancaster.

The duty of these guards is, amongst other things, when the king eats in public (which he does 3 times a-week, viz. Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday) to fetch the meat from the kitchen, and carry it to the table, where it is taken from them, and placed before his majesty by the gentlemen in attendance.

The captain of this guard is my Lord Grandison, and the lieutenant, Thomas Howard, o^^i . . . .

[George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison (1618-1699)… ]

[L&M suggests Thomas Howard was this gentleman:… }

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The king has another guard, formed of 50 gentlemen, called Pensioners, the greater part persons of birth and quality, who carry a sort of pole-axe, in the form of a halberd, ornamented with gold, and are under the orders of a captain, who is my Lord Belasyse, and a lieutenant, Sir John Bennet.

[I wonder if Sir John Bennet is Lord Arlington's kid brother, who also runs the Post Office for Arlington? If so, he's a busy man.]

They are obliged to attend the person of the king on all solemn occasions, such as receiving ambassadors, and other public ceremonies; to accompany him from the anti-chamber to the chapel, and on his return from the chapel to the anti-chamber: it is also their duty to serve his majesty as a bodyguard whenever he goes out into the city, or into the country; on these occasions, a party of them, well-armed, follows his majesty; and the captain of the bodyguard is obliged by his office to keep close to the king's person, particularly at the moment when the king is mounting.

[John, 1st Baron Belasyse. “In 1666/7 Belasyse was in England; his appointment as Governor of Tangier was withdrawn and he was appointed Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms. In 1672 he resigned this appointment as he was unwilling to take the Oath of Conformity introduced under the Test Act.”… ]


The regiment of infantry nearest the city supplies the guards, who are changed every day, at the palaces of Whitehall and St. James’s, and at the Tower of London.


As before, I apologize if my guesses are incorrect, and the references remain the same.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Cosmo's 1669 journal also had many pages of details about religion: I suspect someone was either pulling Count Lorenzo Magalotti's leg, or he confused his recent history with the current situation, because it's confusing.

I am excerpting these observations about the religion of the royal family, nobility and people as examples, which I consider pretty accurate:

When that monarch [KING CHARLES I] espoused Henrietta Maria of Bourbon, daughter of Henry IV, the Puritans (who are reformed after the usage of Geneva, and who still appropriate to themselves the name of Presbyterians) were greatly afraid lest, by degrees, the queen should succeed in mitigating the severity of the edicts against Catholics, and by that means induce the adherents of the Hierarchy to unite together and accomplish their extinction; and, on this account, the antipathy of the Presbyterians against the government of bishops has always been kept alive, rather on account of the exterior conformity to the Catholic ceremonies retained in the churches of England ever since the schism of Henry VIIII, than from any hatred which they bear towards their corrupt doctrines; and they have spread themselves to such an extent, and have encreased in so much greater numbers than the Conformists (so they of the Anglican Liturgy are called) that they have obtained leave for the public exercise of their sect, which is not granted to any other except the Anglican.


This prohibition was highly necessary; for as soon as the king returned peaceably to London and to his kingdom, he determined to re-establish the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, the subversion of which was the first beginning of the innovations in the state and in religion in the time of Charles I, made and fomented by the Presbyterians and others of the Calvinistic Sectarians, who, finding the king's good-nature in yielding to the insolence of the Parliamentarians, proceeded to such a pitch as even to pass a positive censure upon his mode of government; and took advantage of the conjuncture to destroy entirely both the Catholic faith and the Anglican religion, introduced by Henry VIII, and propagated by Queen Elizabeth: and for political reasons, in order to strengthen himself upon his throne, the king has judged it necessary (notwithstanding that the Presbyterians had strongly cooperated in his restoration) to replace the episcopal government in its former consideration, as being more consonant with the principles of monarchy, and instilling into subjects reverence for those at the head of affairs, which is not the case with Presbyterians, the genius of whose sect is republican and hostile.


He [CHARLES II] immediately restored to the Hierarchy, for the performance of the ceremonies ordained by the Act of Uniformity, all the churches formerly applied to the exercise of the Catholic faith.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The latter, owing to the religious disposition of the queen, now breathes a little in England, being kept up in as good a shape as the rigorous spirit of Parliament will allow, rather by the zeal of foreigners than by the natives, who are not accustomed to see the performance of the rites of the Holy Roman Church.

The preachers of the Anglican religion have but a thin attendance at their discourses, the people thronging in much greater crowds to the meetings of the Presbyterian sect; from which, as well as from that of the Hierarchy, which is a mixture of Calvinism and Lutheranism, have since been derived all those numerous and sub-divided Sectarians which are now to be found in London, daily multiplying in all the vigor of independence.

They are as follow:
Protestants or those of the Established Religion, Puritans, Presbyterians, Atheists, Brownists, Adamites, Familists or the Family of Love, Anabaptists, Libertines, Independents, Fanatics, Arians, Antiscripturists, Millenarians, Memnonists, Enthusiasts, Seekers, Sabbatarians, Antisabbatarians, Perfectionists, Fotinians, Antitrinitarians, Sceptics, Tremblers or Quakers, Monarchists or Fifth Monarchy-Men, Socinians, Latitudinarians, Origenites, Deists, Chiliasts, Antinomians, Armenians, Quintinists, Ranters, and Levellers.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link


With the above-mentioned sects, and with others which the people form at pleasure out of the different articles of religion, which have been disseminated through London, this kingdom is still infected.


There is no doubt that the king externally appears to be a Protestant, observing with the most exact attention the rites of the Anglican Church; but it is also true that, from his method of proceeding, there is reason for thinking that he does not entirely acquiesce in that mode of belief, and that he may, perhaps, in his own mind, cherish other inclinations.

The Duke of York is also, to all appearances, zealous in the practice of the Anglican religion.

The Duchess his wife is deeply imbibed with the dogmas of the religion of the king; and it is frequently her amusement and delight to retire into her private oratory, and hold secret conferences with her spiritual directors, and to occupy herself with reading books that treat of the religion of the state, and its Liturgy.

Prince Robert [RUPERT] adheres to Calvinism it its rigidest and purest form, as it is professed at Heidelberg by the family of the Counts Palatine of the Rhine.


The principal nobility of the kingdom, except those few who openly or in their hearts are Catholics, are for the most part of the religion of the king, though there are many among them who have no objection to Presbyterianism.
The rest of the nobility adhere, some to Protestantism, and some to Presbyterianism; and a very small part of them secretly continue to be Catholics, but refrain from declaring themselves such externally, that they may not run the risk of losing their honors and their property.

The common people enjoy a liberty which is incredible, every man following that religion and those rites which most suit his fancy, or which his own passions suggest to him; and as they meet with no opposition, they live in the greatest confusion of heresies, every possible sect finding supporters among them.


The Count recounts the articles of belief held by Henry VIII, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, gives details about all the sects he lists (some of which I've never heard of before). I wonder who his sources were? The level of detail is incredible.

The citation is as before.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary – he and Mary Browne Evelyn live at Saye's Court, Deptford.…


4 February, 1685.

I went to London, hearing his Majesty had been the Monday before, (2 February) surprised in his bedchamber with an apoplectic fit, so that if, by God's providence, Dr. King (that excellent chirurgeon as well as physician) had not been accidentally present to let him bleed (having his lancet in his pocket), his Majesty had certainly died that moment; which might have been of direful consequence, there being nobody else present with the King save this Doctor and one more, as I am assured.

1685 JOHN EVELYN 205

It was a mark of the extraordinary dexterity, resolution, and presence of mind in the Doctor, to let him bleed in the very paroxysm, without staying the coming of other physicians, which regularly should have been done, and for want of which he must have a regular pardon, as they tell me. This rescued his Majesty for the instant, but it was only a short reprieve.

He still complained, and was relapsing, often fainting, with sometimes epileptic symptoms, till Wednesday, for which he was cupped, let bleed in both jugulars, and both vomit and purges, which so relieved him, that on Thursday hopes of recovery were signified in the public "Gazette," but that day about noon, the physicians thought him feverish.
This they seemed glad of, as being more easily allayed and methodically dealt with than his former fits; so as they prescribed the famous Jesuit's powder; but it made him worse, and some very able doctors who were present did not think it a fever, but the effect of his frequent bleeding and other sharp operations used by them about his head, so that probably the powder might stop the circulation, and renew his former fits, which now made him very weak.

Thus he passed Thursday night with great difficulty, when complaining of a pain in his side, they drew twelve ounces more of blood from him; this was by six in the morning on Friday, and it gave him relief, but it did not continue, for being now in much pain, and struggling for breath, he lay dozing, and, after some conflicts, the physicians despairing of him, he gave up the ghost at half an hour after 11 in the morning, being the 6th of February, 1685, in the 36th year of his reign, and 54th of his age.

Prayers were solemnly made in all the churches, especially in both the Court Chapels, where the chaplains relieved one another every half quarter of an hour from the time he began to be in danger till he expired, according to the form prescribed in the Church offices.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Those who assisted his Majesty's devotions were, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London, Durham, and Ely, but more especially Dr. Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells.*

* The account given of this by Charles II's brother and successor, is that when Charles II's life was wholly despaired of, and it was time to prepare for another world, two Bishops came to do their function, who reading the prayers appointed in the Common Prayer Book on that occasion, when they came to the place where usually they exhort a sick person to make a confession of his sins, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who was one of them, advertised him, it was not of obligation; and after a short exhortation, asked him if he was sorry for his sins? which the King saying he was, the Bishop pronounced the absolution, and then, asked him if he pleased to receive the Sacrament? to which the King made no reply; and being pressed by the Bishop several times, gave no other answer but that it was time enough, or that he would think of it.

James adds that he stood all the while by the bedside, and seeing Charles II would not receive the Sacrament from them, and knowing his sentiments, he desired the company to stand a little from the bed, and then asked the King whether he should send for a priest, to which the King replied: "For God's sake, brother, do, and lose no time."

The Duke said he would bring one to him; but none could be found except Father Huddleston, who had been so assistant in the King's escape from Worcester; he was brought up a back staircase, and the company were desired to withdraw, but he (the Duke of York) not thinking fit that he should be left alone with the King, desired the Earl of Bath, a Lord of the Bedchamber, and the Earl of Feversham, Captain of the Guard, should stay; the rest being gone, Father Huddleston was introduced, and administered the Sacrament.— "Life of James II"


It is said they exceedingly urged the receiving Holy Sacrament, but his Majesty told them he would consider of it, which he did so long till it was too late. Others whispered that the Bishops and Lords, except the Earls of Bath and Feversham, being ordered to withdraw the night before, Huddleston, the priest, had presumed to administer the Popish offices.

He gave his breeches and keys to the Duke who was almost continually kneeling by his bedside, and in tears. He also recommended to him the care of his natural children, all except the Duke of Monmouth, now in Holland, and in his displeasure.

He entreated the Queen to pardon him (not without cause; who a little before had sent a Bishop to excuse her not more frequently visiting him, in regard of her excessive grief, and withal that his Majesty would forgive it if at any time she had offended him.

He spoke to the Duke to be kind to the Duchess of Cleveland, and especially Portsmouth, and that Nelly might not starve.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Thus died Charles II, of a vigorous and robust constitution, and in all appearance promising a long life. He was a prince of many virtues, and many great imperfections; debonair, easy of access, not bloody nor cruel; his countenance fierce, his voice great, proper of person, every motion became him; a lover of the sea, and skillful in shipping; not affecting other studies, yet he had a laboratory, and knew of many empirical medicines, and the easier mechanical mathematics; he loved planting and building, and brought in a politer way of living, which passed to luxury and intolerable expense.

1685 JOHN EVELYN 207

He had a particular talent in telling a story, and facetious passages, of which he had innumerable; this made some buffoons and vicious wretches too presumptuous and familiar, not worthy the favor they abused.

He took delight in having a number of little spaniels follow him and lie in his bedchamber, where he often suffered the bitches to puppy and give suck, which rendered it very offensive, and indeed made the whole court nasty and stinking.

He would doubtless have been an excellent prince, had he been less addicted to women, who made him uneasy, and always in want to supply their unmeas-urable profusion, to the detriment of many indigent persons who had signally served both him and his father. He frequently and easily changed favorites to his great prejudice.

As to other public transactions, and unhappy miscarriages, 'tis not here I intend to number them; but certainly never had King more glorious opportunities to have made himself, his people, and all Europe happy, and prevented innumerable mischiefs, had not his too easy nature resigned him to be managed by crafty men, and some abandoned and profane wretches who corrupted his otherwise sufficient parts, disciplined as he had been by many afflictions during his banishment, which gave him much experience and knowledge of men and things; but those wicked creatures took him from off all application becoming so great a King.

The history of his reign will certainly be the most wonderful for the variety of matter and accidents, above any extant in former ages: the sad tragical death of his father, his banishment and hardships, his miraculous restoration, conspiracies against him, parliaments, wars, plagues, fires, comets, revolutions abroad happening in his time, with a thousand other particulars.

He was ever kind to me, and very gracious upon all occasions, and therefore I cannot without ingratitude but deplore his loss, which for many respects, as well as duty, I do with all my soul.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link



His Majesty being dead, the Duke, now King James II, went immediately to Council, and before entering into any business, passionately declaring his sorrow, told their Lordships, that since the succession had fallen to him, he would endeavor to follow the example of his predecessor in his clemency and tenderness to his people; that, however he had been misrepresented as affecting arbitrary power, they should find the contrary; for that the laws of England had made the King as great a monarch as he could desire; that he would endeavor to maintain the Government both in Church and State, as by law established, its principles being so firm for monarchy, and the members of it showing themselves so good and loyal subjects;* and that, as he would never depart from the just rights and prerogatives of the Crown, so he would never invade any man's property; but as he had often adventured his life in defense of the nation, so he would still proceed, and preserve it in all its lawful rights and liberties.

* This is the substance (and very nearly the words employed) of what is stated by James II in the MS. printed in his life; but in that MS. are some words which Evelyn has omitted. For example, after speaking of the members of the Church of England as good and loyal subjects, the King adds, "and therefore i shall always take care to defend and support it."
James then goes on to say, that being desired by some present to allow copies to be taken, he said he had not committed it to writing; on which Mr. Finch (then Solicitor-General and afterward Earl of Aylesford) replied, that what his Majesty had said had made so deep an impression on him, that he believed he could repeat the very words, and if his Majesty would permit him, he would write them down, which the King agreeing to, he went to a table and wrote them down, and this being shown to the King, he approved of it, and it was immediately published.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The King afterward proceeds to say: "No one can wonder that Mr. Finch should word the speech as strong as he could in favor of the Established Religion, nor that the King in such a hurry should pass it over without reflection; for though his Majesty intended to promise both security to their religion and protection to their persons, he was afterward convinced it had been better expressed by assuring them he never would endeavor to alter the Established Religion, than that he would endeavor to preserve it, and that he would rather support and defend the professors of it, than the religion itself; they could not expect he should make a conscience of supporting what in his conscience he thought erroneous: his engaging not to molest the professors of it, nor to deprive them or their successors of any spiritual dignity, revenue, or employment, but to suffer the ecclesiastical affairs to go on in the track they were in, was all they could wish or desire from a Prince of a different persuasion; but having once approved that way of expressing it which Mr. Finch had made choice of, he thought it necessary not to vary from it in the declarations or speeches he made afterward, not doubting but the world would understand it in the meaning he intended. —— 'Tis true, afterward it was pretended he kept not up to this engagement; but had they deviated no further from the duty and al-legience which both nature and repeated oath obliged them to, than he did from his word, they had still remained as happy a people as they really were during his short reign in England.' — "Life of James II" ii. 435. The words printed in small caps in this extract are from the interlineations of the son of King James II.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


1685 JOHN EVELYN 209

This being the substance of what he said, the Lords desired it might be published, as containing matter of; great satisfaction to a jealous people upon this change, which his Majesty consented to.
Then were the Council sworn, and a Proclamation ordered to be published that all officers should continue in their stations, that there might be no failure of public justice, till his further pleasure should be known.

Then the King rose, the Lords accompanying him to his bedchamber, where, while he reposed himself, tired indeed as he was with grief and watching, they returned again into the Council chamber to take order for the proclaiming his Majesty, which (after some debate) they consented should be in the very form his grandfather, King James, was, after the death of Queen Elizabeth; as likewise that the Lords, etc., should proceed in their coaches through the city for the more solemnity of it.

Upon this was I, and several other gentlemen waiting in the Privy gallery, admitted into the Council chamber to be witness of what was resolved on. Thence with the Lords, Lord Marshal and Heralds, and other Crown officers being ready, we first went to Whitehall gate, where the Lords stood on foot bareheaded, while the Herald proclaimed his Majesty's title to the Imperial Crown and succession according to the form, the trumpets and kettledrums having first sounded three times, which ended with the people's acclamations.

Then a herald called the Lords' coaches according to rank, myself accompanying the solemnity in my Lord Cornwallis's coach, first to Temple Bar, where the Lord Mayor and his brethren met us on horseback, in all their formalities, and proclaimed the King; hence to the Exchange in Cornhill, and so we returned in the order we set forth


Being come to Whitehall, we all went and kissed the King and Queen's hands. He, had been on the bed, but was now risen and in his undress. The Queen was in bed in her apartment, but put forth her hand, seeming to be much afflicted, as I believe she was, having deported herself so decently upon all occasions since she came into England, which made her universally beloved.

Thus concluded this sad and not joyful day.

I can never forget the inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming, and all dissoluteness, and as it were total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening), which this day se'nnight I was witness of, the King sitting and toying with his concubines, Portsmouth, Cleveland, and Mazarin, etc., a French boy singing love songs in that glorious gallery, while about 20 of the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were at Basset round a large table, a bank of at least 2,000 in gold before them; upon which two gentlemen, who were with me, made reflections with astonishment.

Six days after, was all in the dust. It was enjoined that those who put on mourning should wear it as for a father, in the most solemn manner.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

After seeing Ridley Scott's "Napoleon", I was struck by how English blood lust was satisfied by just the death of King Charles, and the Puritans did not turn to the wholesale execution of elites -- 200 years later the French mob required roughly 20,000 executions before the strongman subdued them.
Later I found those executions came from all classes, much to my surprise:…

I was also surprised that Scott didn't say what Napoleon did to
make the French people love him so. From school I know he stimulated the economy, made society more equitable, started schools and hospitals, reformed the legal code, and offered a fortune for developing a way of preserving food (we owe canned food to him)

Researching further I found:
"It is striking that for every year between 1806 and 1813 ... the free [THEATER] performance [ON NAPOLEON'S BIRTHDAY] was always a tragedy bar one exception in 1811. Tragedy was central to Napoleon’s image, allowing him to draw parallels between himself and Louis XIV, the patron for many of these tragedies, and the empires of antiquity.
"Theatre was an important propaganda tool for Napoleon, ..."…

I wonder who gave him that idea!

In England, Oliver Cromwell was the strongman.

The French, like the English, went back to kingship after the revolution failed to find a better way to govern.

So Charles II did not have to play the "strongman" although he could do so when he had to. "My words are my own, and my actions are my ministers" was his way of using the "surpremacy" of the Commons over his Divine Right of a King.
EG: he made Parliament take responsibility for punishing the Regicides.

If he had acted as a "strongman" the Puritan faction was still strong enough to bring about another fourth Civil War to kick out the Stuarts for good.

When Charles' back was against the wall, after the Diary and the Popish Plot, and he had to break Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury and the Whigs over the succession, he did what had to be done. Yes, it involved selling England to Louis XIV, but even then he avoided doing what Louis expected of him in return. And he has to exile his favorite son.

Louis XIV grewn up during The Fronde, a civil war led by his uncles. Amazingly when he became of age, he employed them fighting for France, and all seems to have been forgiven. This Catholic family's ties ultimately held together.

The English Stuarts came unstuck over religion.

Napoleon ended religion.

One thing Charles II, Louis XIV and Napoleon all feared was the power of the mob. Partly to keep the mob occupied, they all fought wars (Louis and Napoleon both in search of French "glory" and Charles and George/Wellington to curb just that).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Scott showed just enough war footage to emphaize the heroism of every-day soldiers involved in hand-to-hand combat, and those brave horses that galloped towards the guns.
Charles II was 14 when King Charles judged him old enough to be present on the battlefield at Edgehill -- hidden in a hedge which he had to leave in a hurry as the battle came his way.
He must have had PTSD -- they all must have had it. (OK, not Napoleon, who seems to have looked on warfare as a strategy skill set which is doubtly is -- chess on steroids -- if you can ignore the bloodshed involved.)
That partly accounts for the gambling, risky behavior, self-medication, etc.

Being exposed to that level of violence at a young age changes our brains, so we should not be surprised by the suicides and bad behavior -- irrational as it occasionally appears to have been:
"The negative long-term effects of childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences on physical and mental health are well established in the literature.
Childhood adversity, commonly experienced as child abuse, neglect, and/or household dysfunction has been linked to increased risk for various long-term chronic illnesses. It increases the risk for depression 4.5-fold and suicide attempts 12.2-fold.
Childhood adversity may increase impulsive behaviors, reward orientation, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Epigenetic changes, posttranslational modification, and an unregulated inflammatory response may accompany the behavioral and cognitive response to childhood trauma.
Exposure to war or terrorism increases a child’s risk for both medical and psychiatric disorders in adult life."…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... which is doubtly is ..." should read "... which it undoubtedly is ..." of course.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.