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. She was appointed Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen in spite of the latter's protests. Regarded as the foremost beauty of her day, she acquired great wealth and had at least five children with the King. 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.
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