Charles II of England

King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 to 1685 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685)[lower-alpha 3] 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.

Quick facts: Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ire...
Charles II
Charles is of thin build and has chest-length curly black hair
Portrait by John Michael Wright, c.1660–1665, depicting Charles in Garter robes
King of England, Scotland and Ireland
Reign29 May 1660[lower-alpha 1]
6 February 1685
Coronation23 April 1661
PredecessorCharles I
SuccessorJames II
King of Scotland
Reign30 January 1649 
3 September 1651[lower-alpha 2]
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 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. 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 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.

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