King Charles II of England Facts, Biography, Timeline - The English Reformation

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Charles II lived in exile in France for 15 years. He was considered a foreigner as much as his father, Charles I and grandfather, James I. In April 1660, The declaration of Breda was issued by Parliament. It declared liberty and tender consciences which meant a general pardon for all except a few whom parliament deemed dangerous. The army was disbanded. The monarchy restored to England.

Charles II was asked to take the crown but only if he agreed to terms. These terms were Charles II had to agree to respect Parliament and Petition of Right which was still the law.

Charles II landed at Dover and assumed the throne from 1660 1685. He was self indulgent and had plenty of mistresses. Because of his self indulgent behavior, he was not popular with the Puritans. Rumors of plots against the monarchy prevailed. However, the economy prospered.

Charles II dissolved Parliament in 1679 but elections for a new Parliament was held the same year. Charles favored the Tory party. The King of France gave him an annual salary. He was a Catholic but was wise enough to keep his religious convictions to himself.


During his reign, two great events occurred: The Great Plague and the London fire. Christopher Wren designed St. Pauls Cathedral and much of the rebuilding in London.

Charles II was nicknamed the Merry Monarch. He died when he was 56 years old on February 6, 1685. Charles II had an illegitimate son, Duke of Monmouth, who was Protestant and lived in France. The Duke thought the English people would rally around him because he was Protestant. He felt he was the rightful heir to the throne. However, Charles II named his brother, James II his successor. The Duke landed at Dover but their was no support. He managed to rally a few Englishmen in the pitchfork rebellion which was the last rebellion in England. The Duke and his followers were executed.

Charles II epitaph read: Let his royal ashes then lie soft upon him and cover him from harsh and unkind censures; which though they should not be unjust, can never clear themselves from being indecent.

Except from When London Burned by G. A. HENTY

We are accustomed to regard the Reign of Charles II. as one of the most inglorious periods of English History; but this was far from being the case. It is true that the extravagance and profligacy of the Court were carried to a point unknown before or since, forming,--by the indignation they excited among the people at large,--the main cause of the overthrow of the House of Stuart. But, on the other hand, the nation made extraordinary advances in commerce and wealth, while the valour of our sailors was as conspicuous under the Dukes of York and Albemarle, Prince Rupert and the Earl of Sandwich, as it had been under Blake himself, and their victories resulted in transferring the commercial as well as the naval supremacy of Holland to this country. In spite of the cruel blows inflicted on the well-being of the country, alike by the extravagance of the Court, the badness of the Government, the Great Plague, and the destruction of London by fire, an extraordinary extension of our trade occurred during the reign of Charles II. Such a period, therefore, although its brilliancy was marred by dark shadows, cannot be considered as an inglorious epoch. It was ennobled by the bravery of our sailors, by the fearlessness with which the coalition of France with Holland was faced, and by the spirit of enterprise with which our merchants and traders seized the opportunity, and, in spite of national misfortunes, raised England in the course of a few years to the rank of the greatest commercial power in the world.



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Portrait of King Charles II, Wearing Garter Robes
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Portrait of King Charles II as a Child, French School, circa 1630
18x24 Giclee Print..
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Probable Portrait of Nell Gwynne, Mistress of King Charles II