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King Charles II

(1630-1685), Reigned 1660-85

Sitter associated with 295 portraits
When civil war broke out in 1642, the heir to the throne Prince Charles was only twelve. He courageously engaged in the fighting for the next four years and, on one occasion when advised to retreat, cried 'I fear them not'. He was eventually sent abroad for safety in 1646. His attempt to invade England in 1651 ended in disaster at the Battle of Worcester when he was sheltered by Royalists until he finally escaped back to France. He was restored to the throne in 1660, amid great rejoicing, but with limitations on his powers. He became adept at out-manoeuvring the opposition to his policies, particularly in matters of religion and foreign affairs. The second half of his reign was marked by war with the Dutch after the Royal African Company, which had a monopoly of the Transatlantic slave trade, began to capture Dutch slave-trading posts in 1667. The company was founded by a royal charter issued by Charles in 1672 and was led by his brother, James Duke of York. In 1685, James succeeded as King James II, as although Charles had fathered fourteen children by his mistresses, he had no legitimate heir.

More on King Charles II: Monarchs range in our Shops | Kings & Queens range in our Shops | Pepys and his Contemporaries book in our Shops
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