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Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland facts for kids

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The Duchess of Cleveland
Duchess of Cleveland
Countess of Castlemaine
Barbara Villiers.jpg
Portrait by Peter Lely
Born Barbara Villiers
27 November 1640 (17 November Old Style)
Parish of St. Margaret's, City and Liberty of Westminster, Middlesex, England
Died 9 October 1709(1709-10-09) (aged 68)
Chiswick Mall, England
Spouse(s) Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine
Occupation Lady of the Bedchamber

Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, Countess of Castlemaine (née Barbara Villiers, 27 November [O.S. 17 November] 1640 – 9 October 1709), was an English royal mistress of the Villiers family and perhaps the most notorious of the many mistresses of King Charles II of England. Barbara was the subject of many portraits, in particular by court painter Sir Peter Lely.

Her influence over King Charles II of England was so great that she has been referred to as "The Uncrowned Queen." Of her six children, five were acknowledged by Charles as his. In the Golden Age, it was stylish to adorn an estate with her likeness.

She was appointed Lady of the Bedchamber despite opposition from Queen Catherine and Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, chief advisor to the King and a bitter enemy of Lady Castlemaine.

In June 1670 Charles created her Baroness Nonsuch (as she was the owner of Nonsuch Palace). She was also, briefly, granted the ownership of Phoenix Park in Dublin as a present from the King. She was made Countess of Castlemaine and Duchess of Cleveland in her own right. The dukedom was made with a special remainder which allowed it to be passed to her eldest son, Charles FitzRoy.

Barbara died at the age of 68 on 9 October 1709 at her home, Walpole House on Chiswick Mall, after suffering from dropsy, now described as oedema of the legs, with congestive heart failure.

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