Charles II of England facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsCharles II
|King of England, Scotland and Ireland (more...)|
|Reign||29 May 1660 –
6 February 1685
|Coronation||23 April 1661|
|Predecessor||Charles I (1649)|
|Successor||James II & VII|
|King of Scotland|
|Reign||30 January 1649 –
3 September 1651
|Coronation||1 January 1651|
|Born||29 May 1630
(N.S.: 8 June 1630)
St James's Palace, London, England
|Died||6 February 1685 (aged 54)
(N.S.: 16 February 1685)
Whitehall Palace, London, England
|Burial||14 February 1685
Westminster Abbey, London, England
|Father||Charles I of England|
|Mother||Henrietta Maria of France|
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. But England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic 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 virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands. The political crisis that followed Cromwell's death in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy, 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 laws known as the Clarendon Code, designed to shore up the position of the re-established Church of England. Charles acquiesced to the Clarendon Code even though he favoured a policy of religious tolerance. The major foreign policy issue of his early reign was the Second Anglo-Dutch War. 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 revelations 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 Roman 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. He was allegedly received into the Catholic Church on his deathbed.
Traditionally considered one of the most popular English kings, Charles is known as the Merry Monarch, a reference to the liveliness and hedonism of his court. He acknowledged at least 12 illegitimate children by various mistresses, but left no legitimate children and was succeeded by his brother, James.
Prince Charles was the King's eldest son. As a little boy, he was made Prince of Wales as a sign that he would one day be king. By the time he grew into a young man, his father was already at war with Parliament in the English Civil War. Prince Charles did not take much part in the fighting. His mother, Henrietta Maria, was French, and she took her children to France when the war broke out, to keep them safe. Prince Charles was only eighteen when he heard that his father was dead. This made him King, and he started calling himself King Charles II immediately, but Parliament was still in control of Britain and would not let him take his throne.
The King's escape
In 1651, Charles II returned to Britain and fought Parliament at the Battle of Worcester. He was defeated, but he was not caught by the enemy because he hid in an oak tree. Later, he was forced to disguise himself as a servant. A young lady called Jane Lane helped him to escape, and he sailed to Holland where his supporters were. He kept his own royal court there until 1660.
While Charles was in Holland, Britain was being ruled by Oliver Cromwell, an ordinary man who had been chosen as leader of the country by Parliament. Cromwell was very strict, so the people soon grew tired of him. When Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard was chosen to be the next leader. Richard Cromwell was ineffective, and King Charles II was asked to come back and rule Britain.
In 1660, Charles II was brought back to Britain and took his throne. This was the English Restoration. Many of his enemies were punished for having executed his father and fought against him, but Richard Cromwell was allowed to go and live quietly away from London. Charles was popular and was called "The Merry Monarch" because he changed many laws that Cromwell had made and allowed people more freedom to enjoy themselves. He liked to go to the theatre, play cards and enjoy sports such as horse racing. Some people thought that a king should be more serious and not spend so much time and money on fun.
There were also some people who did not like King Charles II because of his religious beliefs. He had been brought up by his mother, who was Roman Catholic, while most people in the country were Protestant. He married a princess from Portugal, Catherine of Braganza.
The most popular of Charles II's children was James Scott. Charles gave him the title Duke of Monmouth.
Charles II died quite suddenly, and his son James, Duke of Monmouth, started a rebellion in the hope of becoming the next king. He was defeated by the royal army, which supported Charles's brother James. The Duke of Monmouth was executed, and Charles's brother became the next ruler, King James II.
By Marguerite or Margaret de Carteret
- Letters claiming that she bore Charles a son named James de la Cloche in 1646 are dismissed by historians as forgeries.
By Lucy Walter (c.1630–1658)
- James Crofts, later Scott (1649–1685), created Duke of Monmouth (1663) in England and Duke of Buccleuch (1663) in Scotland. Ancestor of Sarah, Duchess of York. Lucy Walter had a daughter, Mary Crofts, born after James, but Charles II was not the father.
By Elizabeth Killigrew (1622–1680), daughter of Sir Robert Killigrew, married Francis Boyle, 1st Viscount Shannon in 1660
- Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria FitzRoy (1650–1684), married the 2nd Earl of Yarmouth
By Catherine Pegge
- Charles FitzCharles (1657–1680), known as "Don Carlo", created Earl of Plymouth (1675)
- Catherine FitzCharles (born 1658; she either died young or became a nun at Dunkirk)
- Anne Palmer (Fitzroy) (1661–1722), Countess of Sussex, married Thomas Lennard, 1st Earl of Sussex. She may have been the daughter of Roger Palmer, but Charles accepted her anyway.
- Charles Fitzroy (1662–1730) created Duke of Southampton (1675), became 2nd Duke of Cleveland (1709)
- Henry Fitzroy (1663–1690), created Earl of Euston (1672), Duke of Grafton (1675), also 7 Greats-Grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales
- Charlotte Fitzroy (1664–1717). She married Edward Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield.
- George Fitzroy (1665–1716), created Earl of Northumberland (1674), Duke of Northumberland (1678)
- Barbara (Benedicta) Fitzroy (1672–1737) – She was probably the child of John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, who was another of Cleveland's many lovers, and was never acknowledged by Charles as his own daughter.
By Nell Gwyn (1650–1687)
- Charles Beauclerk (1670–1726), created Duke of St Albans (1684)
- James, Lord Beauclerk (1671–1680)
By Louise Renée de Penancoet de Kérouaille (1649–1734), created Duchess of Portsmouth in her own right (1673)
- Charles Lennox (1672–1723), created Duke of Richmond (1675) in England and Duke of Lennox (1675) in Scotland. Ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, and Sarah, Duchess of York.
By Mary 'Moll' Davis, actress
- Lady Mary Tudor (1673–1726), married Edward Radclyffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater; after Edward's death, she married Henry Graham, and upon his death she married James Rooke.
Images for kids
Portrait by William Dobson, c. 1642 or 1643
Charles in exile, painted by Philippe de Champaigne, c. 1653
Coronation portrait: Charles was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661.
Charles was presented with the first pineapple grown in England in 1675. Painting by Hendrick Danckerts.
Statue of Charles II as a Roman Caesar, erected 1685, Parliament Square, Edinburgh
In Spanish: Carlos II de Inglaterra para niños
Charles II of England Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.