Charles 2

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Charles II / Kings and Queens

  • Name  : Charles II
  • Born  : 1630
  • Died  : 1685
  • Category  : Kings and Queens
  • Finest Moment : The Restoration, in 1660

Born in St James's Palace, London, on 29 May 1630, the eldest son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Along with his brother James (later James VII and II), Charles had been at the battle of Edgehill in 1645. Both were sent to France for their safety and education. When his father was executed in 1649, Charles began seeking support in Scotland, finally landing at Speymouth in the summer of 1650 (but not before the grim-faced Covenanters made him sign the Covenant).

In September 1650 the Scottish army was beaten by Cromwell at Dunbar. Charles was crowned at Scone on New Year's Day 1651, the last King to be crowned there. He then marched south, but with Cromwell tightening his grip on Edinburgh and the Borders, support for Charles was less than forthcoming, and he was defeated at Worcester later that year. He became a fugitive and ended up back in France.

Back home, Cromwell had died, and the country was in danger of being divided by his successors. The parliament, and opinion, demanded the Restoration of the Monarchy, which took place in 1660. With a good education behind him, a wise Chief Adviser beside him, and some experience of the art of compromise, he landed at Dover on 25 May and celebrated his 30th birthday by entering a rejoicing London.

Charles never visited Scotland again; he left its management to a privy council run by his commissioners. This 'hands-off' policy suited the Scots. The burghs slowly recovered and important definitions of Scots Law began to appear. There were continuing problems with religion naturally, and hard-core Protestors in Scotland underwent suppression for 20 years.

By his reasonably tolerant behaviour in Scotland, Charles paved the way for the Act and Treaty of Union in 1707. The two nations would be united, but Scotland would retain an independent legal system, as well as an independent Church. It would do for a while.

Charles died on 6 February 1685, at Whitehall in London. He left behind a reasonably tranquil country, and at least 14 illegitimate children.

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