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Barbara Palmer (née Villiers), Duchess of Cleveland (1640-1709), Mistress of Charles II

Sitter in 33 portraits
The favourite mistress of Charles II during the 1660s, Barbara Villiers was a dominant presence both at court and in the public's imagination. She married Roger Palmer, later the Earl of Castlemaine, in 1659, and met Charles soon after. Appointed Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen in spite of the latter's protests, she bore the King at least five children. She became a Catholic in 1663, dabbled in politics, and was implicated in the fall of Clarendon. She was made a Duchess in her own right in 1670, when her influence with the King was beginning to wane.