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Charles II


Charles Stuart was born in London on May 29, 1630 to an Anglican King Charles I and his Catholic wife, Henrietta Marie of France. Charles’ early life was difficult in that he witnessed England’s bloody civil war that began in 1642. As a result, Charles often followed his father with the Royalist army on their quest to put down the insurrection of the Parliamentary forces (Falkus, 25). Charles eventually gained his father’s confidence and was given command of his western army at Bristol. However, the Parliamentary forces were too strong and Charles advised his young son to flee the country.

Charles eventually landed in France joining his exiled mother. The exile was fraught with loneliness and frustration at not being able to help his father back home in England. The exiled family also suffered the indignation of not being totally accepted by the French royal family. King Louis XIV ignored his English cousin and did not afford him financial support either. As a result, Charles and his mother had to live in an impoverished state and sold many of the crown jewels in order to live.

Charles did have one friend, George the Second Duke of Buckingham, who spent time at a country estate where they passed their time hunting and playing games of sport. Here he picked up his reputation for debauchery and laziness (Falkus, 30).

However, Charles, upon learning of his father’s capture by the Scots, joined the Royalist fleet exiled in Holland (Falkus, 31). Although he saw very little military action at this time, he was very active in conquests of the romantic nature (Frasier, 35). Charles relationship with an English refugee, Lucy Walter, produced a son. James, being of illegitimate origin, was given the title of the Duke of Monmouth by his father (Falkus, 35).

The birth of Charles's son was overshadowed by the news of the execution of Charles’ father at the hands of Parliamentary forces. Charles’ death deeply saddened his son, but he never allowed for public displays of grief or emotions of any sort. Thus, Charles gained the reputation of being aloof, cynical, cold, and self indulgent (Falkus, 39).

Charles, with the help of trusted advisors and companions embarked on an eleven year course to regain the throne of England. In order to ensure his succession and the support of his own people, Charles had to throw his lot in with the Scottish Royalists by signing a Presbyterian Covenant pact which forced Charles to renounce Catholicism and Anglicanism. Bitter and resentful, Charles signed the agreement. However his forces were crushed by Oliver Cromwell’s superior forces and Charles ended up living like a fugitive in his own country (Chapman, 113).

Researched and Written by:
Mary Galligan
December 17, 1998

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