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Life in the times of Charles II By Trisha Hughes #History #CharlesII #Stuarts @TrishaHughes_
Life in the times of
By Trisha Hughes
Charles II has always been a personal favourite of
mine. His strength of character and loyalty has always put him head and
shoulders above other kings, in my humble opinion. Like his father, Charles
showed resilience and determination and while he may have had faults, cowardice
was not one of them.
From the very start, Charles knew it wasn’t
going to be easy stepping back into England as the king. After Oliver Cromwell,
Parliament had dangled the juicy carrot in front of Charles and he had snatched
it willingly. But what he soon came to realise was that the Divine Right of
Kings no longer existed. Parliament
was in charge now and everyone was taking it for
granted that the king was just their
instrument and their servant, not the
other way around as he and his family still firmly believed. He could no longer
levy taxes without their consent because Parliament had decreed that they had
the final authority on absolutely everything.They were in control, not the
other way around.
On the day Charles and his handful of supporters
stepped foot in England and gazed about in astonishment at the huge crowd
greeting them, he must have wondered if he was asleep or dreaming. It had been
eleven years since Cromwell had first deposed him. It was ten years since the Battle
of Dunbar and it was eight years since he had hidden in the oak tree to escape
capture. On 29th May 1660, his 30th birthday, people
cheered, banners waved, church bells pealed and he waved happily to the crowds
grinning widely, showing gleaming teeth beneath his dark moustache, his eyes
twinkling in his swarthy face. Throughout his exile, he had always hoped to
return to England as king but he would have never imagined it would be with
such overwhelming acceptance. It was obvious that the English people were more
than ready to have a return of the monarchy and a return of age-old traditions
and customs. And he wasn’t about to disappoint them.
It marked a new historical period about to
unfold and no other time in history was more important since William the
Conqueror and the Normans in 1066.
Unfortunately, behind everything Charles did was
the issue of money, or more precisely, the lack of it.He owed a lot of money to William of Orange
for the eight years when he and his family had lived in The Hague during
Cromwell’s rule. Eventually, he had exorbitant costs with his many mistresses
and he regarded the allowance given to him by Parliament as meagre, barely
enough to cover half of his expenses. With
hands out every way he turned, Charles was willing to agree to almost anything
if there was more money in his pocket at the end of it all. But it never, at
any time, gave him pause in his loyalty to the English people.
And then, in the eyes of his Parliament, he made
a big mistake. Of all the choices of brides available to him, what they had not
expected was that Charles would find a Catholic one in Catherine of Braganza.
With so many eligible young princesses champing at the bit hoping the handsome
English king would notice them, they were astounded that he couldn’t find one
who was more suitable. It was only when he told them of her sizeable dowry that
they were mollified.
Dutch engraving of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza
had not expected much from marriage. From her point of view, marriage and all
that went with it, was an unavoidable duty. But when she met Charles, she was
surprised at how much she actually liked him. He was thoughtful, considerate,
even amusing, and yet iron-willed and shrewd with an understanding of how to
get the most out of people. She loved his silent strength and she quickly fell
in love with him.
she was just one of many who loved Charles. There was Barbara Villiers,
Hortense Mancini, Catherine Pegge, Elizabeth Killigrew, Lucy Walter, Louise de
Keroulle, Winifred Wells and Nell Gwynn. To name just a few. For a girl who had
been sheltered for most of her childhood in a Catholic convent close to the
palace, Catherine wasn’t prepared at all for the life Charles offered her.
seems that every time a tragic and momentous time in history is about to occur,
a comet streaks across the sky. To superstitious England, it was sometimes seen
as a sign of good fortune but most times, it ended up a prediction of evil. And
they were right. The Plague filtered into London from an infected ship and the
outbreak surpassed all previous horrendous figures. There seemed no way to stop
the disease from spreading.
a fire that eventually stopped the progress of the disease and it was this same
fire that showed England the lengths Charles would go to save his country and
the people. In the early hours of 2nd September 1666, medieval
London went up in flames. As the fire raged, Charles and his brother James
helped the bucket brigade tirelessly into the nights and it was only days later
the city was saved.
chaos, Charles did not delay rebuilding the gutted city. His people already had
few possessions but now they were destitute. His plan was to build a new city
with improved hygiene and fire safety at any cost. Out of two terrible
disasters, Charles began a rebirth.
then however, he made his second mistake. He signed a secret treaty with his
cousin King Louis XIV of France that basically put money into his own pocket at
the same time that Parliament were putting money into another of his pockets to
do the opposite. The French alliance led to a serious falling out with Holland
who angrily surged up the Thames, plundering without mercy. Once again, Charles
came to the rescue with a strategy that included ‘fire ships’ creating a panic
to break the Dutch formation. Once again, Charles saved England.
all this happened, his wife Catherine suffered miscarriage after miscarriage.
By June 1669, she and Charles were both forced to accept the fact that
Catherine had suffered her last pregnancy and there would be no children. And
Catherine struggled, the last thing Charles needed was Parliament putting
pressure on him regarding an heir. The way they saw it, the only way around the
problem was for him to divorce Catherine and legalise his first illegitimate
son, James Crofts, to Lucy Walker.
no doubt about it, James was a fine young man and the finest of Britain’s
soldiers. He had been educated in a school near Paris and a marriage had been
arranged for him to wed a Scottish heiress. He was even created Duke of
Monmouth with subsidiary titles of Earl of Doncaster and Baron Scott of
Tynedale. His new name, Charles declared, would be James Scott, 1st
Duke of Monmouth and his son would fit into the English society and the Peerage
for all the love Charles felt for his son, James lacked one ingredient. And
that was legitimacy. Because of that, James Scott would not be the future king
of England. That was reserved for Charles’ brother, James Duke of York.
For all his blunders, there was always two things
Charles was consistent in: the love of his family and his belief in the Divine
Right of Kings. His father had died because of that belief and he had endured
many harsh years of his life in exile because of it. Cromwell had taken that
‘right’ away from him and it was because of that same belief that Cromwell had
plunged the country into rebellion and civil war. There was no exception to
this rule and Charles wasn’t about to fawn or kowtow to a Parliament who
thought differently. If he shirked that belief now, he would be nothing but a
fraud. He had stood by his wife Catherine when Parliament had almost ordered
him to find a new fertile wife and he stood by his brother James as the
rightful heir to the throne of England. He had made bad decisions in the past
but there would be no faltering on these subjects. In this, I believe he showed
a magnificent depth and strength of character.
Charles left no legitimate children but we know
of a dozen by his 10 mistresses. The present Dukes of Buccleuch, Richmond,
Grafton and St Albans descend from Charles in a direct male line and Diana,
Princess of Wales, was descended from two of Charles’s illegitimate sons: the
Duke of Grafton and the Duke of Richmond. Also, through Charles II and his
mistress Louise de Kerouaille, their son Charles Lennox Duke of Richmond would
become the ancestor of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Sarah, Duchess of York.
Lady Diana’s son, Prince William, second in line
to the present British throne, is likely to be the first monarch descended from
Charles II and Stuart blood will once more run through the veins of future
kings and queens of England.
Hughes is an Australian living in Hong Kong. Trisha started writing 20 years
ago with her memoir ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ published by Pan
Macmillan Australia. Her first book became a best-seller and it wakened in
her a love of writing. She has written another biography ‘Enough’
and is currently working on the third in her V2V trilogy. The first in the
series, ‘Vikings to Virgin - The Hazards of being King’ was
published in 2017 and the second, ‘Virgin to Victoria - The Queen is
dead. Long live the Queen' will be released on 28th April this year.
She is currently completing the last in the series as well as polishing her
latest crime novel ‘Beware of Beautiful Days.’
In Vikings to Virgin - The Hazards of Being King
Trisha Hughes provides the reader with a pacey introduction to the many
pitfalls faced by the ambitious as they climbed the dangerous ladders of
royalty. It is easy to think that monarchs are all powerful, but throughout the
Dark and Middle Ages it was surprisingly easy to unseat one and assume the
crown yourself. But if it was easy to gain ... it was just as easy to lose.From
the dawn of the Vikings through to Elizabeth I, Trisha Hughes follows the
violent struggles for power and the many brutal methods employed to wrest it
and keep hold of it. Murder, deceit, treachery, lust and betrayal were just a
few of the methods used to try and win the crown. Vikings to Virgin - The
Hazards of Being King spans fifteen hundred years and is a highly accessible
and enjoyable ride through the dark side of early British monarchy.
After the death of her sister, 'Bloody Mary',
England had high hopes for Elizabeth I when she came to the throne. The
25-year-old ascended the throne as the third queen to rule in her own right and
she attended her first council exuding an air of quiet confidence, even though
she was inheriting a bankrupt nation torn apart by religious discord. It was
Despite her amazing legacy and despite what her
father, Henry VIII, had desired above all else, Elizabeth failed England in one
vital point. She never married and did not leave an heir to the Tudor dynasty.
By making that one fateful decision, she left the path open for the arrogant
Stuarts in Scotland to take over and life would never be the same.
'Virgin to Victoria'travels in time through
Elizabeth's amazing life, through the confusion of the Stuart dynasty, through
the devastation of a Civil War led by Oliver Cromwell, through battles for the
throne and through the turbulent and discordant Hanover dynasty with its intricate
Queen Victoria did not ask to be Queen. It was
thrust upon her by the accident of birth and then by a succession of accidents
that removed all others who stood between her and the throne. She assumed it
reluctantly and, at first, incompetently. Parliament was sure the 18-year-old
could be relied upon to leave the job of running the country to the