Charles2ndCharles 2nd  1660 -1685   

The story of Charles 2nd is one of the most exciting and entertaining of any member of the English Royal family. Stories when he was a prince, of battle field adventures and miraculous escapes, the permanent availability of women who willingly slept with him and his final return to England as king organised not by him but powerful people who felt England would be better off with a monarch like Charles rather than a Puritan republican like Oliver Cromwell . The resulted was Charles being the last absolute English monarch as the Protestant parliament steadily removed the king’s dictatorial powers. The story shows Charles as probably the most popular ever English King but failing in resolve as he could not make his mind up whether he should ally himself with his nephew the Catholic King of France, Louis 14th or his own parliament and  the Protestant leader of Holland, William of Orange.

Summary of important English people and events during the time of Charles 2nd

  • Newton the father of Physics
  • Boyle the father of Chemistry
  • Locke the Father of Human Rights in Parliamentary Democracies. 
  • Improvement in the rights of women eg girls allowed to act on a public stage for the first time.
  • Muslim aggressions and their land gains in Europe finally stopped as the benefits of European science improved European military capabilities over the Islamic aggressors.
  • East coast of North America fully colonised by English adventurers and religious refugees.
  • Trading posts in India fully established.

1630 Charles was born in May at St James Palace London

1641 King Charles 1st raised his war standard at Nottingham castle against the parliamentary militias who are fed up with King Charles’ dictatorial leadership. The big issue is who has the ultimate authority King or parliament. Present are the 11 year old Prince of Wales Charles, his younger brother the Duke of York, James 8 and their cousin from Germany, already battle hardened in the 30 years war, 22 year old Prince Rupert of the Rhine. This tight little royal group generally remain loyal to Prince Charles in his efforts to become King of England.

1642 Civil war commences in England, Prince Charles is only 12 but rides into battle against Cromwell’s armies at Edgehill but fortunately is persuaded to retreat to the rear.

1644 The King’s armies are defeated at Marston Moor. The King has now taken up residence in Oxford along with his supporters and Cromwell who is becoming the strong man of the rebels called Roundheads is based in Cambridge.

1645 Cromwell creates the “New Model Army” a fully trained group of professionals who massacre the Royal forces at Naseby. Prince Charles is now 15. Charles  commences to move steadily Westwood to avoid falling into the hands of the all powerful Roundhead Model Army under Cromwell and Fairfax.

He reaches Bristol and then Bridgewater where he bumps into his old nurse Mrs Wyndham who for best reasons only known to herself sexually seduces the 15 year old Prince and carefully teaches him the pleasures of sex. More importantly she teaches him how to pleasure a woman in bed which puts him for ever in demand by suitable and unsuitable lovers. Charles ends up with 14 mistresses, the greatest number for any English King and many illegitimate offspring any of which could in future have lay claim to the throne.

In the meantime his father realises Charles must leave England for safer places and makes Edward Hyde, his then general advisor and treasurer his sons guardian. Hyde is 36 and will stay with or around the future Charles 2nd until his death. Scotland and Ireland are top of the list for safe havens but they eventually chooses ParisFrance where his French mother Henrietta Maria is already safely bestowed. His trip to France with Hyde takes him via the Isles of Scilly and Jersey where he discovers his love for sailing and ships. In Jersey the 15 year old price also enjoys his first real mistress Marguerite Carteret who is 39 where he has time to practice what Nurse Wyndham taught him. His adoring hosts also build Charles his own ship (Galley) with twin masts and 8 oars. These are difficult and dangerous seas to perfect the art of seamanship.  

The now 16 year old price finally arrives in Paris where he lodges with his domineering and possessive mother but fortunately he is joined by his childhood friend the Duke of Buckingham. The queen organises tutors (including John Evelyn) for Charles and Buckingham and they study maths, chemistry, physics, and navigation. The queen also arranges for Charles to meet with their French royal hosts including his cousin, the 8 year old Louis 14th.

Charles is amongst powerful friends and relation in this part of Europe. His mother the then 36 year old Henrietta Maria was of course the sister of the previous king of France Louis 13th who had just died (1643).  This made Charles the first cousin of Louis 14th then only 8. However the presence of Charles in France was rather an embarrassment because it was quite clear to the French that Oliver Cromwell and not Charles might soon hold the power in England. Hence Charles and his hangers on were destined to live in poverty.

Charles’ sister  Mary Henrietta, one year his junior had been conveniently married to the Protestant prince William 2nd of Orange and they lived in Holland. The Duke of York, Charles’ younger brother James took refuge with Mary rather than their mother Henrietta Maria.

Prince Rupert (of the Rhine) was generally a solid supporter of Charles throughout his adult life. Rupert had been born in Prague in 1619, a nephew of Charles 1st , was brought up a Calvinist and moved to protestant Holland when Prague fell to the Catholics in the 30 years war. However by 1644 Rupert was in England supporting Charles 1st in the civil war, where because of his military experience was made General of the Royalist armies. Rupert aged 25 and Prince Charles aged 14 are acquainted and both love army life. Charles escapes to France and in 1646 Rupert is captured by Cromwell’s armies and is banished from England. Rupert is very employable as a military leader and is soon fighting for the French against the Spanish to the frustration of Charles who is considered too much of a hot potato to risk getting killed in battle.

1648 Eventually it was decided by Charles supporters in Paris that he should mount a rescue mission to relieve his father who is believed to be imprisoned by Cromwell on the Isle of White. He sails to Holland where both his brother James who has appointed himself Admiral of the English Navy and Rupert have joined sister Mary Henrietta and a few hundred loyal royalist supporters. With the help of Rupert he assembles a small fleet. James who has fallen out with is brother, looses the title of Admiral and Charles sets sail for southern England but are too insignificant to achieve anything. The real action however is in the north where the Scots, who can’t wait for Prince Charles, and crossed the boarder only to be annihilated at Preston by Cromwell’s Model Army.  The dejected Prince Charles returns to Holland where he is supported by sister Mary and also in the royal bed by the attractive 18 year old Lucy Walters. Lucy, a Welsh girl of noble birth, escaped from her family castle when it was raised by the Model Army and found sanctuary in Holland via London. She produces a son for Charles who eventually becomes the Duke of Monmouth. Lucy who generally slept around was known as a courtesan rather than a prostitute. She died in Paris 1658.

1649 Prince Charles and his followers who generally include brother James, cousin Rupert and sometimes Hyde move to Breda and they are joined by James Butler the 1st Duke of Ormonde. Ormonde was a Londoner by birth but a rich man by virtue of his family estates in South East Ireland. As Charles and his followers in Breda again consider an invasion of England, Scotland and now Ireland are the obvious favourite routes or stepping stones as in both countries they should easily be able to recruit a loyal army. However at this time invasion plans take on a new urgency when the exiles get the devastating news that King Charles 1st has been beheaded in London for treason by order of Cromwell’s parliament.

1650 Charles now 19, travels once again to Jersey where he is legitimately King Charles 2nd as he is in Scotland. The plan they had, to travel to Ireland, evaporated as they hear of Cromwell’s military scorched earth polices where he exterminates all the royal supporters waiting for the royal party. Cromwell is no fool and a military genius and he feels justified in heinous genocidal  actions when he finds out about Charles’ plans and the financial support rushing in to Ireland from the Pope, the French and the Spanish. The only route is therefore via Scotland.

Scotland it must be but Charles does not like the Scots, they are also divided into to fractions, the Covenanters and the followers of Montrose.

James Graham, the 1st Marquess of Montrose was an obvious choice as he had supported Charles 1st in battle during the civil war but he had fallen foul of the Covenanters the more powerful Scottish group so the Covenanters it had to be. Unfortunately this was an extreme Calvinist sect of the Scottish Presbyterian church who told Charles in plain language that they would not help unless he vowed to support this sect in favour of the establish English Episcopalians (Church of England) when he became King of England.  To everyone’s horror Charles agreed.

Charles actually arrived at the mouth of the river Spey, on the north east coast of Scotland on 3rd July 1650 and immediately had to confirm to his hosts his agreement to turn England Presbyterian. (Oath of the Covenant).

By coincidence Oliver Cromwell had at this time arrived in Scotland with the military objective of weakening the Scottish armies to ensure they would be no real threat to England if/when Charles had persuaded the Scots to invade England and march down to London. Cromwell’s Model Army was exhausted from a rushed journey from Ireland were he had eliminated any support for Charles from that Catholic country (England’s oldest colony) with a ruthless campaign of assassinations, exterminations and murder happily administered because they were almost without exception the dreaded Popish enemy and supported by Continental and Vatican money.

Scotland on the other hand were Presbyterians similar to Cromwell’s Puritans and indeed Cromwell sent a letter to David Leslie who was holed up in Edinburgh that he did not want to fight the Scots, all he wanted was Charles. Scotland then as now was divided into two, Lowlands and Highlands with the dividing line just south of Perth. Highlanders were still barbaric unruly tribes (clans) and superb gorilla fighters who were always fighting each other for supremacy but had no clear long-term leadership. The Lowlanders with Edinburgh as their capital was Cromwell’s target. Lowlanders had a good military general in David Leslie. The Scots were keeping Charles almost in prison in the Highlands with endless sermons from the Kirk and similarly endless frugal banquets were grace could last 15minutes. Charles complained that Scottish women were more like witches and probably never washed because they stank. How Charles would have loved to be with Leslie against Cromwell. 

Battle of Dunbar

With Leslie in the impenetrable mountaintop location of Edinburgh castle Cromwell could only lay a siege but his supplies soon ran out and he was forced to retreat along the coast east to the port of Dunbar where he could pick up supplies. David Leslie with the greater numbers of fresh soldiers gave chase but Cromwell with superior tactics and better trained troops won the day (3rd September 1650). Leslie’s army was either killed or captured and sent as slaves to Barbados and there went the best men required to take Charles to London.   

1651 Charles is crowned King of Scotland at Scone the ancient capital of the Picts, two miles north of Perth on the 1st January 1651.

It was a good 6 months before Charles could muster any sort of Scottish army to head into England for onwards passage to London. During this period he was asked to marry a Scottish noble woman, the daughter of the Duke of Argyle. Charles had time to write to his mother in Paris for her opinion. The reply was no, pointing out that the English were not that fond of the Scots.  So he played golf and toured much of Eastern Scotland on horse back to show his face to the people. He was well received after all he was a Stuart. Finally at the end of July another Scottish army of perhaps 15,000 still under David Leslie, was ready and they marched south over the boarder on the 15th August 1651. Charles was crowned King of England in Penrith but failed to pick up any meaningful Royalist English support which was not surprising as Cromwell’s network of spies had already put over 1000 of them in prison and others were put off because Charles had with him those dreadful Scots. Cromwell’s spies informed him that the King was back in England supported by Leslie so leaving the competent General George Monck in charge in it was not long before Cromwell had caught them up and were picking off stragglers at their rear. Charles decided to head for Worcester rather than London where he could hold up and rest his weary troops and hopefully recruit a few more royalist supporters.

The Battle of Worcester. (The final battle of the English Civil War)

Charles, Leslie and his Scottish army of about 16,000 arrived in the walled city of Worcester on the 22 August 7 1661. Cromwell’s Model Army was 28,000 strong, the first time he had enjoyed numerical superiority. Marching 20 miles a day in the hot summer weather he arrived on August 30th and immediately commenced building pontoon bridges over the local rivers to improve his troop mobility and shellin the city with cannon balls. The battle actually commenced on the 3rd September 1661, one year to the day since Cromwell’s famous victory over the Scottish armies in Dunbar and by dusk it was all over with 2000 royalists dead and 10,000 taken prisoner to only 200 killed on Cromwell’s side. Charles fought bravely and with cunning but really had no hope against the best army in Europe. Eventually he realised after a day’s battle he should make his escape if he was to keep his hopes of becoming King alive. The majority of his Scottish armed supporters at Worcester were captured and shipped off as slaves to the new Caribbean colonies. Leslie ended up in the Tower of London.

The escape from Cromwell’s armies

The stories behind this escape has been the basis for many a novel. Charles was difficult to hide in a crowd because he was six feet two when the average height in the country was a little over five feet six. Further he was Italian dark amongst a pale faced populous with a huge mane of healthy black hair. As a rich man he had no experience of riding a horse “two up” which was the normal mode of transport for an ordinary man and his wife which was the image of a traveller who would not arouse suspicion. His flight lasted sis weeks before he finally escaped the shores of England. Briefly as follows:

3rd Sept 1651 Charles escapes from the north gate of walled City of Worcester under cover of darkness with the Earl of Buckingham and Lord Derby and the Scot Lauderdale. Here started one of the most exciting escapes in history which took 6 weeks.  A young lady “Bright Chelmstone” volunteered to ride with him masquerading as his wife and helping him to learn to ride double.

Charles had fled from Worcester still in his King’s army glad rags and had to be totally re clothed from the boots upwards which was difficult bearing in mind his size. His boots were more like modern day size 12 when the boots he could be given quickly were more like size 5.

The party were immediately lost and not being able to keep to the roads were continuously getting lost. They headed first for the West Country meeting with the route Charles had taken 6 years previously but found no willing sailors to help in Bristol. So they head for the south coast via; Stonehenge, Amesbury and Lyme Regis. (Then only plain Lyme). He is finally successful with a cooperative boatman to take him to RouenFrance and to his mother from somewhere close to present day Brighton. 

Charles remains in limbo in Europe for almost 10 more years staying in more than half a dozen cities including Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and Bruges. Mary, Charles elder sister joins him after her husband, William 2nd of Orange dies and being pregnant she produces Williams son who eventually becomes William the 3rd of Orange and King of England. But not yet. Cousin Rupert and brother James are also around but both gainfully employed. Rupert with privateering around the Caribbean and Rupert fighting with the French armies of Louis 14th. Charles again has no money even though Louis 14th s administration has promised him a pension on the basis he will revert to Catholicasism  if he becomes the king of England. Charles and his sister take over two adjacent “5 star” hotels.

1658 Charles is playing tennis when the news of Cromwell’s death is given to him but Cromwell’s son takes over. However the son is as useless as the father was ruthless and Charles has a powerful supporter at home. General George Monck had a history of spotting the winds of change. Initially a supporter of Charles 1st then Cromwell’s top general he had been given the job of policing Scotland to stop them invading England. Monck, even from his outpost in Scotland soon realised that Richard Cromwell was no value to England and Monk marching to England to claim back pay for his military police in Scotland, persuaded the Rump Parliament they needed  a King and should invite Charles back to London to fill the vacancy.

1660 Charles returned to England from Holland as King of England to a rapturous reception accompanied by his brothers James Duke of York and Henry Duke of Gloucester.  During the voyage he was accompanied by Samuel Pepys who was the source of most of this story. His first night was celebrated as would be expected from Charles, in the bed of his mistress, Mrs Barbara Palmer who provided him with an illegitimate daughter some 9 months later.

The reign of Charles 2nd 1660- 1685

Key milestones

1660 Charles returned to England from exile at the request of the English Parliament under his sponsor George Monck. Parliament was therefore able to curtail the power of the king as compared to all previous English monarchs. Charles made his loyal friend Hyde, Lord Clarendon and his First Minister and George Monck the Duke of Albemarle.  The income he was allowed was designed to be not enough to finance an army. Indeed the power of the King had being steadily declining for almost 100 years after the death of Henry 8th. Largely but fortuitously because firstly there was the boy king Edward 6th then two ladies, Mary and Elizabeth, then the unpopular religious fanatics from Scotland who caused the Civil War and the English republic. This caused many to debate the philosophy of government, notably John Lock, and the steady progress to a parliamentary democracy.

The Royal Society. As an indication in his interest in all things new Charles did not hesitate in putting his name behind a group of scientists who were meeting weekly at Gresham House in Holborn London to share with each other their thoughts and demonstrate their scientific experiments. The group originally known as the Invisible Collage were inspired by the experiments of Francis Bacon 1561-1625 and included all the key English scientific greats of the time viz: Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and later in 1672 the most famous of them all, Isaac Newton.

1662 Act of Uniformity. Against Charles wishes, parliament outlawed any other religion other than the Elizabethan, Anglican, Church of England. This certainly excluded Catholics who had effectively been banned for 60 years but also the Puritans who had a strong base in parliament and in the country after Oliver Cromwell. This caused even more Puritans to emigrate to North America to consolidate the domination the English already had on the East Coast of North America. Charles supported this mass emigration as for example his support for the Quaker William Penn and the creation of Pennsylvania.

Charles marries the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. Catherine brought with her, in her dowry, the town of Bombay (Mumbai) the largest town on the west coast of India. This augmented and further strengthened the English settlements on the east coast and helped to pave the way for England’s expansion to domination of the Indian sub-continent and their huge expansion of trade between India, America and London and the wealth of the nation.

1664 New York City. Charles resolved to bring the new Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam at the mouth of the Hudson River (named after English explorer and navigator Henry Hudson sailing under a Dutch flag) under English control. Charles despatched two English frigates who landed and took over without a fight. The settlement was to be renamed New York by Charles after his brother James, the Duke of York. 

1665 Outbreak of 2nd Anglo Dutch war.  The wars between England and Holland were brought about by international trade rivalry between the two countries and their new bases in India and other eastern spice and tea areas. The Dutch merchant fleet which was armed, had out grown the English, also armed, and was taking much of the lucrative trade the English thought should be theirs. After 2 sea battles with the English fleets led first by James and then Prince Rupert it was one all. In the third the Dutch humiliated the English by sailing up the Thames, sinking half the English fleet, burning Chatham, towing away some of England’s finest ships and blockading London for some weeks. Did the English have any excuse? Well yes, the three years of the 2nd Dutch War coincided with the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.  After this humiliating defeat the matter was settled with negotiations in Breda Holland between the English, the Dutch and French. Fortunately for England the Dutch were focused on doing a quick deal with France who were threatening their southerly neighbour the Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium) and getting a monopoly in the Nutmeg trade from the Far East to Europe. The English thought they would have to hand back New York but the Dutch thought the remaining part of the Nutmeg trade which was held by England was more important. This allowed Charles to consolidate his North American position with the creation of the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. On the other hand the French insisted that England gave Arcadia back to them. Arcadia was a huge tract of land stretching from HalifaxNova Scotia up to Quebec. (The French were eventually to loose all this North American territory back to the English in stages over the next 100 years.)

The Great Plague hit London in 1665 and killed approximately 100,000 people or 10% of London’s population. The King any most of the wealthy fled London but the majority were too poor to do the same. The virus was similar to the Black Death or Bubonic plague which had hit England 300 years previously and came back in less virulent form every 10 years or so.  It was carried by flees riding on black rats who thrived on the London filth. Hence the poor were hit much harder than the rich.

The Great Fire of London started in a bakery in Pudding lane in early September at the end of the very hot and dry summer of 1666. London still meant the area within the old Roman city walls which was bounded by the river to the south, The Tower in the east and the river Fleet to the west. Only poor people lived within the LondonCity walls. The King lived in the village of Westminster a couple of miles west up the river Thames in White Hall Palace, then the largest building in Europe, bigger than the Vatican and the French Palace of Versailles.

The fire storm destroyed 80% of the buildings within the city walls including the original St Pauls Cathedral and most of the black rats which carried plague flees. Unfortunately Charles could not raise enough money to recreate London as his architect Wren would have liked but the new and still standing St Paul’s cathedral was rebuilt to Wren’s design.

1667 Charles’ old friend Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon is blamed for the disasters of the Dutch Wars plus many of the other disasters of the time (above) is impeached by the House of Lords and is replaced by a five man cabinet nick named the Cabal.

1668 Charles supported his cousin Prince Rupert, along with many others from England and Scotland in travelling  to Austria to assist in freeing Vienna from its third siege by the aggressive Ottoman Muslims from Turkey.  The Muslims who had been threatening Europe for the previous 800 years were at last finally beaten and would not be a threat in Western Europe until the terror attacks of 2000 and beyond.

Also in 1668 Charles formed an international Triple Alliance with Holland and Sweden against France to force them to abandon their military actions against the Spanish Netherlands on Holland’s southern boarder. This forced Louis 14th to make a peace treaty with Spain. The Triple Alliance was said to be the only good thing done by Charles up to that point in his reign.

1670 Notwithstanding the above Charles did a secret deal with his cousin and friend Louis 14th called the Secret Treaty of Dover whereby Louis promised to pay Charles £300,000 a year if Charles agreed to eventually declare himself a Catholic, take England back to Catholicasism and help Catholic France invade Protestant Holland. Louis on his part agreed to send troops to England if Charles encountered any opposition to this outrageous plan.

In 1672 Charles commenced to implement this plan and introduced the First Declaration of Indulgence to repeal all penal laws against Catholics and Non Conformists. The Anglican Parliament forced Charles to repeal it.

The Third Dutch War

Notwithstanding this setback Charles committed England to a joint invasion of Holland as the second part of the Treaty of Dover which became known as the 3rd Dutch War. The French led unusually by Louis 14th himself, marched through Germany to attack Holland by land from the east. Also the French supported by the English, involving both naval experts Prince Rupert and James (Duke of York), were supposed to blockade Holland from the sea and pirate the fleet of the Dutch East India Company due to arrive laden with a huge wealth of spices. The Dutch had the largest maritime fleet in the world but were clearly theoretically out numbered many times over both on land an at sea. However they had two popular war heroes, the 22 year old  William of Orange, Charles’ nephew, and  the Naval genius Lieutenant Admiral Michiel de Ruyter.

The result should have been inevitable with the French capturing their prized target, the port of Amsterdam, then the richest city in Europe (bar possibly Muslim Constantinople) but it was not to be. French generals were no match for the Dutch. The Germans who had allowed the French access to Holland via Germany changed their mind. The Dutch breached their sea walls and flooded key access routes the French needed to attack key Dutch cities and the English and French fleets could not work together and were out monovered by de Ruyter. First phase definitely a win for the Dutch. Then:

1674 Treaty of Westminster: The secret Treaty of Dover was leaked to Parliament who were understandably livid. Charles was forced to stop supporting the French and withdraw from the Battle with the Dutch. Prince James the Duke of York was seen more and more as a Catholic so lost his job as Admiral of the Fleet. The French were not involved in this agreement rather the two Protestant countries decided to stop fighting each other. The Dutch who had just retaken New York gave it back to England and agreement was reached to share the lucrative Far Eastern trade. The Dutch also compensated England for the loss of the secret annual bribe Charles was receiving from Louis 14th. A good deal for England in spite of Charles.

Catholic paranoia

The last 10 or so years of Charles’ reign was dominated by an almost paranoiac fear which the English protestant parliament and many rich landowners had against the possibility of any King including Charles being a Catholic. The cat was out of the bag when it was leaked that Charles was being paid annually by the powerful Catholic French King Louis 14th to bring England back under the Pope. England was still a small country compared to the Catholic masses in France and Spain who could be paid by the Pope to invade England at anytime. England’s oldest colony Ireland remained stubbornly Catholic and was a launching pad for any Popish supported army to get into England by the back door even though England had planted Protestants land owners all over Ireland and particularly in the north as loyal subjects to reduce the risk in this event. The English landowners in England who had been given huge tracts of land by Tudor monarchs confiscated from the pre-reformation EnglishChurch did not want to loose these estates. Further the march of science had made Catholic turned  Protestant English question the concept of a Catholic Mass particularly Transubstantiation. (The supposed magical turning of wine and bread into the blood and body of Christ.) The word Popery was regularly used to describe any Catholic “medieval” mumbo jumbo. The Popish and the Rye House plots were examples of this, described below. The final move of course would be the Glorious Revolution also described later.

1678 The Popish Plot and Titus Oats. A scam designed to make Catholics even more feared and unpopular by spreading a rumour that the Protestant Charles 2nd was about to be assassinated by Catholic thugs and replaced by his Catholic brother James.

Oats who had been to all the right schools, Merchant Taylors and Cambridge but he was thrown out of both of them for being stupid or unteachable. He was brought up an antibaptist an even further back to basics Protestant religion than Cromwell’s Puritans but spent time with the Jesuits a far right Catholic movement, which he was thrown out of as well.

1683 The Rye House plot.  Demonstrating again the huge anti Catholic paranoia in Parliament this was a plan to assassinate both King Charles and his brother James to rid England of any smell of the Pope in the royal line and replace them with Charles eldest illegitimate  son the Protestant Earl of Monmouth.

The Rye House was a convenient small farm house north east of London on the road to Newmarket races. The Race track of the kings. Fortunately the King and James never passed by as racing was cancelled due to a fire at Newmarket.

Tories and Whigs. At this time there were the beginnings of a two party system in the House of Commons. Tories supported the royal family system and the Whigs the parliamentary democracy with zero Catholic involvement.

1680 Charles gives the right to William Penn the Quaker to purchase the land in America now called Pennsylvania. Penn therefore became the largest landowner outside the English Royal family. Brother James had previously owned the land which had included New York but retained the City for himself probably because it had been named after him.

Quakers had been persecuted up to this point notably William Penn himself who was put in jail by a London judge although all the jurors had found him not guilty. This case known as “Bushel’s Cast” paved the way for English (and American) Jurors to be independent from Judges, another flag in the progress of human rights arising from the freer atmosphere prevailing in the reign of Charles 2nd.  

1685 Charles dies aged 54 Whitehall Palace London allegedly converting to the Catholic faith almost with his last gasp and naming the Catholic James his younger brother his successor.


James 1st 1685 -89 

James was the younger brother of Charles who had more often than not lived along side his brother during their years of exile but he had none of the self preservation characteristics of his jolly brother. It was indeed surprising that he managed to reign for as long as 4 years because from the start he tried to:

  • Take a fiercely Protestant country back to Catholicism.
  • Run the country like his father almost as a dictator or under the belief of a divine right for Kings and  who had been beheaded as a result.

It was not long before a few exiled Whig parliamentarians plotted a coup to replace the obviously arch Catholic James with Charles 2nd eldest illegitimate son, Monmouth the “Protestant Duke”. The initial plan had the sympathetic Scottish, Earl of Argyll sent by Monmouth from Holland to Scotland in an attempt to collect Scottish supporters to mount a coup. James’ forces did not allow him to even get out of Scotland and he was killed.

Them Monmouth tried himself, setting sail for London via the small port in the south west of England Lyme in Dorset. He travelled west to gain supporters but only managed to enlist about 400, peasants armed with pitch forks and the like but he was dubbed King at Taunton. This motley band was caught at Sedgemoor near Taunton where they surrendered and jailed.

James sent Judge Jeffries to Taunton for trials. Afterwards called the “Bloody Assizes” Jeffries put to death about a 320 by either beheading or hanging, drawing and quartering and displaying their bodies around the area as a deterrent for other potential Protestant usurpers. The remainder, 840 persons were deported to Jamaica as slaves. One poor woman was deemed to be a witch and was burnt alive at the stake.

Who said Oliver Cromwell was barbaric murderer, it was just normal in these barbaric times. Judge Jeffries was given the job of Lord Chancellor for this service to the King.

James’ character is also illustrated by his position as backer of the new Royal African Company whose sole purpose was the transport of Black slaves from Africa to Jamaica and James Town Virginia. He was proud enough of this trade to ensure that most of the slaves were branded DY for Duke of York.

James then acted swiftly to weaken the Protestant hold over the country.

  • He recruited a large standing army of 13,000 men and garrisoned it ostentatiously at Hounslow just west of London.
  • He tried to get Parliament to scrap Habeas Corpus so that he could imprison the opposition for long periods without trial
  • He dismissed Protestant theologians at Oxford and Cambridge and replaced them with Catholics.
  • He brought back the “dispensing power of Kings” to enable him to ignore the law in any case he chose.

And finally the straw that broke the camels back; James’ wife Mary from Modena, Italy bears James a son and air clearly to be brought up a Catholic.

Obviously enough was enough for both the Whig and Tory sides of Parliament and seven leaders signed a letter asking the Protestant William of Orange, Stadtholder in Holland to come to England with an army to “defend the rights and liberties of the people of England”.

William was the son of princess Mary the daughter of Charles 1st. His wife another Mary was daughter of James 2nd the current King. The offer was attractive to William as he needed England to

  • Help him against France who wanted to annex Holland
  • To stop the Anglo/Dutch wars for the monopoly of the Spice trade when a duopoly would be a much more profitable arrangement.

William and his army landed at Torbay and they initially marched to Exeter. James isolated by all his friends fled to France.

James with his second wife the Italian Catholic, Mary of Modena with many of his children from his two marriages were welcomed by his cousin Louis 14th King of France.


William and Mary 1689-1702

The Glorious Revolution of 1689

It was a reflection that England needed William as much as William needed the much larger England, that the English Parliament could write the rules of his Kingship to eliminate dictatorial and divinely guided monarchs for ever. Hence the Glorious Revolution.

William of Orange

The Glorious Revolution

  • The English needed a Protestant King
  • The Dutch needed a powerful ally against aggressive land grabbing by the French.
  • This resulted in “The nine years war” against France

The English also got

  • A Parliamentary Democracy
  • A banking system
  • A stock exchange
  • A huge increase in Naval power.
  • The end of the Dutch wars which were crippling their trade with India and Indonesia. England took the Indian fabric trade (Chintz) and Holland the spice trade with Indonesia.

Removing power from the King and increasing the rights for Parliamentarians and the people.

The Stuart Kings had given the country much grief as we have seen and now Parliament had the opportunity to introduce lasting controls on the king and some safeguards for the vulnerable individual. A Bill of Rights was presented to King William by Parliament and he signed it. This was as significant as the Magna Carta.

The provisions of the act were:-

  • No Royal interference with the Law. Hence the king could no longer overrule a Judge or bring in arbitrary Laws. Parliament made the laws
  • No Taxation by Royal Prerogative. All tax raising now had to go through Parliament.
  • Only Civil courts were legal. That is Church/religious courts were not.
  • No standing army could be maintained in peacetime. It was generally the prerogative of the King to go to war but now he could not do this unilaterally, he must go to Parliament to get permission and the funds. It should now be impossible for the King to start a civil war or oppress the public en-mass.

And benefits for people and Parliament were:-

  • Anybody could petition the King without fear of retribution. Like being put in Jail or executed.
  • No Royal interference in election of Members of Parliament
  • No Royal interference with people to have arms (guns) to defend themselves as would be appropriate for their station.
  • No excessive bail or excessive degrading physical punishment could be imposed on any individual.
  • Freedom of Speech in Parliament. In other words during a debate a Parliamentarian could say what he liked without fear of retribution.

(100 years later these words were the basis of the American Bill of Rights)

William and Mary 1689-1702

1689 William was 39 and his wife was 27 when they were crowned joint rulers of England with William making all the decisions.

William was happy to accept the throne of England as it gave him the military strength to match the aggressive land grabbing French King Louis 14th. But he probably didn’t fully appreciate the opposition he would have from Ireland who as Catholics regularly looked at France for military support against Protestant England. Also from Scotland who obviously wanted their Scottish King of England James 2nd to remain in power. The French were quick off the mark.

1689 Within a few months ex King James landed in Ireland with a formidable French Army to commence their military actions against the English to get the throne back.

In Ireland the Catholics immediately supported James and his French militia. The Protestants in the north of Ireland supported Protestant William but being out numbered retreated north to the fortified town of Derry. (Londonderry)

James and his catholic army laid siege to Derry.

James and his French army had sailed from France and landed in the welcoming land of the Irish. William had to learn the ropes in England and supported by the English Navy had to land an Army into a hostile Ireland and relive the besieged Derry. In the months it took William to arrive in Ireland a considerable number of people died of starvation in Derry. The memory of this atrocity is relived every year in Northern Ireland by the Orangemen (Orange after William of Orange) thanking the English under William for coming to the rescue.

After the lifting of the siege the English army chased James and the French to the river Boyne which runs east west across Ireland north of Dublin.

1690 The Battle of the Boyne: one of the most significant battles in English history.

If James 2nd and the French had won England would not have developed the modern parliamentary democracy but would have reverted to a totalitarian Catholic state under the influence of France and Rome. The English however won and went on to develop the largest empire in the world and achieve the first ever Parliamentary democracy. The participants did not of course see that at the time.

The English won the battle by out smarting the French and Irish on the other side of the river in the mist and James fled back to Paris.

The Battle of Beachy Head

The vast French Navy attacked the English fleet off the coast of Kent and through superior numbers easily won. Under William it was realised England must triple the size of its Navy but the government had no money. This was the catalyst for setting up the Bank of England to raise money from investors in government bonds which thence forward gave England the edge over the larger France for raising war money. The man responsible for setting it up was Charles Montagu whose family had over 100 years experience in running the finances of England.

1692  The Glencoe massacre. Scotland January

At much the same time (1690) as James was being defeated at the battle of the Boyne his supporters in Jacobite Scotland rebelled against the order to sign an oath of allegiance to William. This rebellion was quickly subdued and William offered forgiveness if the perpetrators relented and signed the oath in front of a Magistrate before January 1692. However the Scottish Jacobites felt they could not do so without getting authority from James now contactable but isolated in France. James dithered over the decision but then when he finally agreed. The message to Scottish Jacobites was delayed in the snow and the deadline was missed. In the chaos which followed, a highland clan, the Campbells, allegedly travelling to find a magistrate, billeted over night with their arch rivals the MacDonalds in the forbidding snowy landscape of Glencoe (now a ski resort) and rising in the early morning murdered virtually the entire MacDonald clan. This so called Glencoe massacre is well remembered today but it had little to do with King William trying to enforce his rule in Scotland and much more the long ensuing Scottish Clan rivalry.

1689-97   The nine years war against the French. 

Those involved and why:

  • King William from Holland was keen to accept the throne of England as it gave him the English Navy and Army to keep the aggressive French under Louis 14th out of Holland
  • The English Parliament needed a Protestant King His wife Mary was next in line after James 2nd not taking into account James’ new son born to his second wife Mary Modena also called James but assumed to be a Catholic. The English also wanted to stop for ever the war with Holland over the spice trade from Indonesia.
  • William did a deal with Leopold 1st    King of Hungary and Bohemia and some German princes to form a “Grand Alliance” against the French.

At this time the French population was about the same, at 20 million, as all those in the Grand Alliance put together.

  • The King of France, Louis 14th wanted to extend his territories to the north, east and south to make France “more secure” invade England and put the Catholic James 2nd back on the throne. Hence he needed to invade Holland and southern Germany (just over the Rhine), weaken the Hapsburgs in Vienna, put his son as a French King in Spain and finally in America, the Caribbean and India to attack and weaken English trade from these territories.

The Grand Alliance was designed to stop this but Leopold had the additional problem of fighting the Muslim Turks on his eastern front who were in Hungary and outside the gates of Vienna.

France was weakened by two years of famine and by Louis taking all civil rights away from his Protestant population (Huguenots), who were famous for their artisan skills in design and manufacturing. 200,000 fled to England and some to Holland and Germany to the benefit of those countries.

In 1692 Louis 14th prepared an army of 30,000 men on the coast of Normandy to invade England and restore James 2nd now 59 years old, to the throne. Fortunately his fleet was thoroughly beaten off the Cape of La Hogue by English High Admiral Lord Russell and Louis gave up all thoughts of invading England again with or without James 2nd.

After nine years of regular conflicts both sides were exhausted fighting inconclusive battles at land and sea. The French ran out of money and the English and Dutch with their superior banking systems came out on top. A war ending treaty was agreed and signed in 1697 at Ryswick in Holland between England and her allies in the Grand Alliance and France which finally forced Louis 14th to recognize William as the rightful King of England over his favourite James 3rd, son of James 2nd who became known as the Old Pretender.

1701  War of the Spanish Succession

Charles 2nd King of Spain died childless and the next in line to the Spanish throne was the Philip Duke of Anjou, Grandson of Louis 14th. Louis was thus looking forward to his family ruling both France and Spain a frightening prospect for the Protestant countries of England, Holland, Leopold 1st the Holy Roman Emperor, Austria and the German dukedoms. The Grand Alliance was therefore reformed and led by William they declared war on France again.

1702  William died aged 51 following a fall from his horse. War plans would be left to his sister in law Anne as the new Queen of England fortunately now with the help of a Parliament and its co leader John Churchill the Duke of Marlborough.

Queen Anne 1702-1714

Daughter of James 2nd and sister of Queen Mary and married happily to George Prince of Denmark.

Anne was born 1665 hence 37 when crowned. She was no Elizabeth 1st had no conversation except for ‘tittle tattle’ and took no interest in the development of the country around her which was being pushed forward by the likes of Newton in science, philosophy and maths, Wren in science and architecture, Kneller and Thornhill painters and writers and poets like Addison, Steel and Pope and of course the parliamentarian Walpole and the military genius John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough with his extensive victories against France in the 9 years war of the Spanish Succession.

She left the important tasks of running the country to Parliament which further strengthened the evolving parliamentary democracy. Her chief ministers were Marlborough (his position influenced by his wife Sarah who had an astonishing hold over the Queen - see below) and Godolphin and the two party system was firmly established between the Tories who were supported by the Landed Gentry and the Anglican Church and the Wigs (forerunners of the Liberals) who were supported by wealthy businessmen and other Protestant sects including Puritans to be called dissenters (later non conformists).

Anne did manage to negotiate a position for her husband George as head of the navy/Lord Chief Admiral. But although pregnant at lest 17 times never managed to produce a child which lived to succeed her.

Sarah Churchill.

She was born Sarah Jennings in 1660 and was introduced to Princess Anne when she was 15 and the future Queen was 10. They struck up an immediate friendship but with Sarah 5 years older and a dominant personality it was Sarah who wore the trousers.

John Churchill, the future  Earl of Marlborough, married Sarah in 1675 and the Jennings family was rich enough to restore the fortunes of the flagging Churchill estates. In 1678 John and Sarah Churchill accompanied the future James 2nd a Catholic, to Scotland during the time of the anti Catholic plots in England of Titus Oats and others in the reign of Charles 2nd. This firmly wedded John and Sarah to the Stuart Royal Family. On their return to England Charles 2nd rewarded this loyalty by making John Churchill, Baron Churchill of Eyemouth whereby Sarah automatically became Lady Churchill.

1683 Anne invited Sarah to become her Lady of the Bedchamber which gave her intimate and private contacts with the future Queen and the opportunity for this powerful and persuasive woman to become the business and political manager of the younger woman she had always dominated.

In the reign of William and Anne’s sister Mary asked Anne to get rid of Sarah but she refused and the two sisters never spoke. On Mary’s death William restored Sarah to her previous position with Anne and made John Churchill the Earl of Marlborough.

1702 King William dies and the Protestant Anne becomes Queen just as England with Austria and Bavaria declare war on France in the battle for the Spanish Succession. Marlborough a brilliant general is made military head of the alliance against France and Sarah makes use of her roll with the Queen to insure the English army gets the money for battle. (Who is running the country, Sarah?)

1704 Marlborough in charge of English, Austrian and Bavarian troops decisively beats the French at Blenheim (in Bavaria Germany) which keeps the French out of Austria. England also take Gibraltar from Spain.

As a reward Marlborough is given land to build a palace at taxpayers expense by Queen Anne, at Woodstock just West of Oxford now called BlenheimPalace.

After Queen Anne dies Sarah retains a high profile relationship with the two subsequent Hanoverian Kings largely due to their admiration of her husband’s battle skills.

Sarah Churchill dies aged 84 in 1744 a rich woman as the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough.

John Churchill/Duke of Marlborough

‘The best general England has ever produced’?

As described by his ancestor Winston Churchill:

He commanded the armies of Europe against France in 10 campaigns and 4 major battles. He never fought a battle he did not win nor besieged a fortress he did not take. No other British soldier has ever carried so great a weight and variety of responsibilities.

John Churchill was born in Devon in 1650 into a family of no wealth and ended up the richest man in the reign of Queen Anne. His father also a Winston became the MP of Weymouth under Charles 2nd and his mother Arabella the Maid of Honour to the wife of James 2nd when he was just the Duke of York. This latter appointment gave the young John the chance to be a page at the court of Charles 2nd where James a successful military commander took him under his wing, firstly just to review the royal troops in the royal parks with the Duke and secondly at the age of 8 to be sent to Tangiers (then an English territory) to fight the Moors. He was spotted as a military tactician even at that age and never looked back. 

He married Sarah Jennings secretly when they were both 15. As we have seen above, Sarah since the age of 15 had been the future Queen Anne’s best friend and a persuasive advisor. This connection did John Churchill no harm at all.

During the reign of Queen Anne John Churchill now Marlborough was appointed the commanding officer of the Allied forces for the war of the Spanish Succession which he retained virtually to the end of the 9 year campaign. He won two major battles early on which firstly kept the French from conquering Austria (Blenheim) and again he defeated the French at Ramillies which expelled them from the Netherlands. He was recalled from the fields of war when Sarah was expelled from her position along side the Queen and this allowed France to end the war on a high so that at the treaty of Utrecht, France gained more land than they deserved. Marlborough left England with Sarah where he was welcomed as hero of the decade and spent time with the future Hanoverian King of England George 1st.

John Churchill/ Duke of Marlborough died in the reign of George 2nd in 1722.

1714 Queen Anne dies at Kensington Palace.

Other notable events during her reign.

Act of Union with Scotland. 1707

Up to this point Scotland was a separate country to England and had its own government, laws and overseas trade but the same monarch. Wales and Ireland were fully integrated. Scotland finally agreed to a union when they saw how they were falling behind England in overseas trade and colonisation. 

It was agreed:

  • The name for the two kingdoms should be Great Britain.
  • Scotland should permanently adopt the hereditary Kings of England
  • This United Kingdom should be governed by the same parliament in London but would supply 16 peers and 45 parliamentary representatives.
  • Laws pertaining to trade and customs and excise should be the same for both countries.
  • Scotland should keep her own church, laws and courts of justice.

Continuous parliamentary battles between Tories and Whigs

  • Tories were noted for upholding the Divine Rights of Kings. That is Kings were chosen and guided by God himself. Tories were also supporters of the established Church of England
  • Whigs were full Parliamentarians and considered the King just an official and was responsible to the people and could be dethroned if he ruled unconstitutionally. They also were supported by the new wealthy in business and lent towards the Puritan religion.

Industrial Revolution

The Steam Engine was the power house used to drive machines which replaced manual labour. The first commercial steam engine was developed in 1710 by Thomas Newcomen in Devon to pump water out of tin mines. This was 50 years before James Watt developed his more efficient condenser version and the one normally associated with kick starting the Industrial revolution.