The English Civil War

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hyncel

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oliver cromwell

edward montagu

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Charles II 1660-1685

Charles I was executed on January 30th 1649. Charles' family were now living in France. Not long after the death of Oliver Cromwell and his son a number of MPs decided the only way to create a stable country was to restore the monarchy. Charles I's eldest son, also named Charles, was brought back to England by Edward Montagu to reign as Charles II.

Samuel Pepys remembers having seen the execution of Charles I (he recalls saying on the day of the king's execution "that were I to preach upon him, my text would be 'The memory of the wicked shall rot.'") and was also present at the return of Charles II to England. They set sail on April 6th 1660.The King returned to Dover on May 25th, Pepys returned to London on June 10th Charles II respected Pepys and asked his advice on naval matters. Charles himself had a great interest in the navy and Pepys says "It ... had ... pleased God to give us a King ... that understood the sea." More on Pepys' view of Charles II

Although Edward Montagu, owner of Hinchingbrooke, received great honours from Charles II, an argument over the disposal of some prize goods taken from an enemy ship, caused Edward to fall from the king's favour. The scene of Edward Montagu bringing Charles II back to England is remembered in a stained glass window in Hinchingbrooke House.

Charles II restored the Church of England, opened the theatres closed by the Puritans under Cromwell and acknowledged the power of Parliament. Although he forgave many of his father's enemies ten of the men who signed his father's death warrant - and who did not beg forgiveness- were tried and sentenced to death.

Charles II encouraged art, drama and music. Samuel Pepys frequently saw him at theatres in London. After the Great Fire of London he employed Christopher Wren (1632-1723) to restore his palaces and create designs for London buildings, including St Paul's Cathedral. He also encouraged science and founded The Royal Society, where Isaac Newton was a young member.

Charles II brought French fashions to the court, a great contrast to the Puritan plainness. He also was presented with the first pineapple grown in England - a shape which was then much used in architectural decoration.

During his reign the Great Plague, or Black Death, took place, closely followed by the Great Fire of London.

Charles II spent a great deal on pleasure and in addition to his wife had a series of mistresses, most famous of which was Nell Gwyn, a prostitute and actress. One of several mistresses referred to often in Pepys' diaries was Lady Castlemaine with whom Charles had a very public affair.

Barbara Palmer, later Lady Castlemaine and Duchess of Cleveland, Charles II's Mistress, is painted here in 1670 by J.M. Wright.

She is the mistress in whose arms the King allegedly spent the night following his return to London.

Charles II left no legitimate children at his death in 1685 so his brother became King James II.

 

 

In what ways did Charles II turn back the clock and make the country more like his father's time than the time of Cromwell?

Research Pepys Diaries to see what Pepys thought of Charles and James.

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