Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
- This page is about King Charles II. For King Charles I, please see Charles Stuart (I).
Known as the Dark Boy in his youth, Charles had a swarthy colouring that was probably the effect of the De Medici blood in his family tree. He was literally a giant among men, standing at 6'4". While not always taking great care with his appearance, the King favoured well made shoes, specially made to fit his size. A sportive man, he was well trained for his age, still taking a stroll every morning at 5 AM, and regularly engaging in sports like swimming, fencing and riding. His hair is cropped and grey, but he mostly wears a dark periwig that is reminiscent of the natural locks he had when younger. At 45 his face showed some of the effects of earlier debauchery with growing lines.
Initial Impression of Personality
The King was known as an affable charming man, the Merry King. Taught the old cavalier ways by his mother, he was ever the gallant towards ladies. Having been raised in a court where ladies were referred (in contrast to the period under James I) he also took their advice and words seriously, and liked to surround himself with all manner of women. The King is well known for his appreciation for wit and lively ladies. His ability to seduce nearly every lady not just an effect of his status, but also his considerable charm, his well practised techniques and the fact that as Rochester put it "His scepter and his rod are of a length". It was a public secret that the King had trouble saying "no" to women and spoiled them outragously.
Known to those people that had frequent dealings with the King was the fact he was a natural dissembler. He could lie with a straight face, adapt at pleasing everybody without acting upon his words and was known to be very calculating indeed. John Evelyn described him as "a prince of many virtues and many great imperfections, debonair, easy of access, not bloody or cruel"."
There are several poems by the Earl of Rochester describing Charles Rex, of which the most famous is:
- We have a pretty, witty king,
- Whose promise none relies on;
- Who never said a foolish thing,
- Nor ever did a wise one.
To which Charles is reputed to have replied:
- "That is true; for my words are my own, but my actions are those of my ministers."
Charles, the son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, was born in 1630. As Prince of Wales during the Civil War Charles was placed in charge of the west of England and took part in the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.
After the defeat of the Royalist forces Charles went into exile, with the aid of the brave Mistress Jane Lane, to the Isles of Scilly. Later he lived in Jersey and France. In 1649 Charles was proclaimed king of Scotland. He arrived in Edinburgh but after military defeats at Dunbar and Worcester, he was forced to flee to France.
On 3 September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died. In May 1659, the generals forced Richard to retire from government.Parliament and the leaders of the army now began arguing amongst themselves about how England should be ruled. General George Monck, the officer in charge of the English army based in Scotland, decided to take action, and in 1660 he marched his army to London. Eventually Charles was invited back as King. Parliament raised nearly £1 million and with this money soldiers in the army were paid off and sent home. At the same time Charles was granted permission to form two permanent regiments for himself, the Royal Scots and the Coldstream Guards.
In 1662 Charles married Catherine of Braganza, the daughter of the King of Portugal. This failed to produce an heir but through his affairs with among others Nell Gwyn, Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of Cleveland and Louise de Keroualle , Duchess of Portsmouth, he fathered several children. There were two possible candidates to become king when Charles died; James Stuart, his younger brother and James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, his eldest illegitimate son.
At this moment in the game (as opposed to historic reality) Queen Catherine has died by the hand of an assassin at Christmas of 1675, and the King, while still in half mourning is looking for a new wife.
Charles had no legal issue yet in 1676. However he had a growing number of illegitimate, or natural, children from his various mistresses. He paid for the upkeep of all his acknowledged children, giving them dowries and positions, and generally acted as a loving father.
- James de la Cloche (b.1646-d.1667) by Margaret de Carteret
- James Scott (b.1649)
- Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria FitzCharles (b.1650) by Elizabeth Killigrew
- Charles FitzCharles (b.1657) "Don Carlos", Earl of Plymouth, by Catherine Pegge
- Catherine FitzCharles (b.1658) by Catherine Pegge
- Anne Palmer, now Anne Lennard, (b.1661)Countess of Sussex, by Barbara Villiers
- Charles Fitzroy (b.1662) Duke of Southampton, by Barbara Villiers
- Henry Fitzroy (b.1663) Earl of Euston by Barbara Villiers
- Charlotte Fitzroy (b.1664), by Barbara Villiers
- George Fitzroy (b.1665) by Barbara Villiers
- Charles Beauclerk (b.1670) by Eleanor Gwynn
- James Beauclerk (b.1671) by Eleanor Gwynn
- Charles Lennox (b.1672) Duke of Richmond in England and Duke of Lennox in Scotland by Louise de Kérouaille
- Mary Tudor (b.1673) by Mary 'Moll' Davis
One of his current mistresses, Catriona MacGregor, Countess Alyth, is pregnant with what is generally believed to be the child of the King.