Charles II., second son of the preceding (the first son, Charles James, having died on the day of his birth, March 18, 1629), born May 29, 1630, died Feb. 6, 1685. At 12 years of age he was appointed by his father commander of the troop of horse which he raised as a body guard at York, and three years afterward he was sent to serve with the royal troops in the west with the rank of general. After the battle of Naseby (1645) the prince retired to Scilly, and subsequently to Jersey, where he remained till September, 1646, when he joined his mother in Paris. In 1649, while residing at the Hague, he received the news of the execution of his father, and immediately assumed the title of king, and was proclaimed king in Edinburgh Feb. 3, 1649, but with little prospect of ascending the throne. Having left Holland to spend some time in Paris, he subsequently repaired to Jersey, whence he arrived in the north of Scotland June 23, 1650, after having agreed to the conditions imposed by the Presbyterians, and after having been forced to take the covenant before landing.
Proclaimed king of Scotland at Edinburgh, July 15, 1650, he was crowned at Scone, Jan. 1, 1651. Cromwell, however, having already conquered the greater part of Scotland, Charles resolved on marching to the south, entered England Aug. 6, and took possession of the city of Carlisle, where he was again proclaimed king. The battle of Worcester (Sept. 3), however, in which he was defeated by Cromwell, put an end to this enterprise. After many narrow escapes from capture, he succeeded in embarking at Shoreham, Sussex, Oct. 15, and went to Normandy, and thence to Paris. The peace of 1655 forcing him to leave France, he went to Bruges and remained there and in Brussels until the news of Cromwell's death in 1658 reached him. In order to be able to avail himself of the confusion which arose in England after the downfall of Richard Cromwell's government, Charles stationed himself at Calais in August, 1059; but it was not till April, 1GG0, that he succeeded during his stay at Breda in opening a negotiation with Gen. Monk. Having transmitted to parliament a document called the declaration of Breda, containing specific pledges as to his future conduct and principles of government, his restoration to the throne of England was voted on May 1, and on May 8 he was proclaimed king in London, which city he entered May 20, having departed from the Hague six days before.
His journey to London was one continued triumph; and the whole of the country through which it passed bore the aspect of a universal fair da)'. So great was the rapture of loyalty with which Charles was received, that, with his usual wit, he observed to some one of his company that he could not see for the life of him why he had stayed away so long, when everybody seemed so charmed that he was at length come back. He was received with open arms, and reinstated without being asked to give a guarantee or to make a concession. In the general joy at the restoration, many acts were popular, or not unpopular, which at another time would have caused great indignation. There was little general excitement when the Presbyterian ministers were ejected from their livings in August, 1GG2. The first really unpopular acts of the king were his declaration of indulgence to Catholics, and the surrender of Dunkirk, toward the close of 1GG2. This fortress, won by the valor of the Cromwellian soldiery, which was regarded as a compensation for the loss of Calais, was ignominiously sold to the French. The declaration of Breda had left the question of church lands which had been sold during the protectorate to be settled by parliament; but by the management of Clarendon parliament adjourned without settling it, and the result was the vitiating of all such sales and the entire restoration of the lands, the buyers having no redress in the courts.
The king had made the most general promises of pardon and amnesty, and even the regicide judges were invited to trust to his honorable clemency; but with the concurrence of parliament, and in truth by act of parliament, they were excepted from the indemnity, even those who surrendered themselves, and all but a few who escaped were either imprisoned for life, or hanged, drawn, and quartered. By vote of the commons, the bodies of Cromwell, Brad-shaw, and Ireton were disinterred, and hanged upon the gibbet at Tyburn. The duke of Ar-gyle was executed in Scotland, and Sir Henry Vane in England; and the excessive zeal for episcopacy of Clarendon and the rough cruelty of Claverhouse made this a reign of bitter religious persecution. The more moderate Presbyterians, led by Baxter, were persuaded at first that the king would be friendly to them, but were bitterly undeceived. On May 20, 1GG2, Charles was married to Catharine of Braganza, daughter of John IV. of Portugal, a virtuous and amiable princess; but he soon outraged her by presenting to her his avowed mistress. The poor queen fainted and the blood gushed from her nose, but Clarendon at length persuaded her to submit to the insult, and her spirit was utterly broken.
The unblushing licentiousness of the court was a scandal to the world, even in that day of reaction against Puritan severity. Its excessive extravagance so far exceeded even the liberal grants made by parliament for the royal expenses, that there was general wonder and inquiry where the money was obtained; and in 1664 there was so much gossip in the London coffee houses about money from France, that some of these were closed by order of the government as places of treasonable talk. War broke out with Holland in February, 1GG5, followed by rupture with France; while parliament continued to legislate against religious nonconformists. In the summer of this year London was desolated with the plague; and in September, 1GGG, a terrible conflagration completed the work of destruction. The war with the Dutch brought little glory, and in 1667 their ships broke into the Medway and blockaded the Thames. On July 31 a treaty of peace was concluded at Breda. This was followed by the dismissal of Clarendon, through the intrigues, it is believed, of the king's mistress.
He was followed after a short interval by the ministry known as the Cabal. In January, 1GG8, Sir William Temple effected the triple alliance between England, Holland, and Sweden. The king announced this to parliament, and it gave great satisfaction to the nation, being in truth the best public act since the restoration. Unhappily, at this very time, he was negotiating a clandestine treaty with Louis XIV., which was to make England wholly subservient to the French king; and when Sir William came home in the autumn of 1G70, he was coldly received by the ministers and king, and retired from public life. To supply money to the king and ministry, the exchequer was closed, and the regular payments of over a million pounds then due were suspended by proclamation for a year. A financial panic and great distress ensued. It was decided to capture a fleet of Dutch ships, but the Dutch convoy beat off the English admiral. On March 17,1672, war was declared against Holland, and a declaration from France was issued at the same time. The pretexts for Avar were trifling. The first important battle, in Soutlnvold bay, May 28, gave little advantage to either side. The French meantime were victorious on land. But the young prince of Orange proved the deliverer of his country.
The Avar dragged on for two years, when a separate peace was made betAveen England and Holland, the Avar on the part of France still continuing. Meantime Charles made a declaration of indulgence in religion, suspending all penal laws in religious matters, in consequence of which many prisoners were released; among others John Bunyan, who had heen in jail 12 years. This declaration, however, was extremely unpopular. Parliament on Oct. 20, 1673, petitioned against the proposed marriage of the duke of York with the princess of Modena, hut Charles replied that the alliance was already completed. Parliament was disposed to remonstrate against the alliance with France, and against the king's evil counsellors. For the next seven years the king and parliament were in a continual contest, the court being utterly corrupt and parliament exceedingly factious. The subserviency of Charles to Louis XIV. was most shameful. The long prorogation of parliament in November, 1675, was an arrangement with the French king, for which Charles received 500,000 crowns. The two kings agreed to make no treaties not mutually acceptable, and Charles accepted a pension, upon his pledge to prorogue or dissolve any parliament which should attempt to force such treaties upon him.
Prince William of Orange came to England in 1077, and was married, Nov. 4, to the princess Mary, daughter of the duke of York. This gave offence to Louis, and he stopped Charles's pension. There was great public discontent at the conversion of the duke of York to the Roman Catholic faith, and his marriage to a Catholic princess, and the whole nation was excited over the supposed discovery of a popish plot to assassinate the king. The investigation of this plot dragged along for years, and resulted in the imprisonment and death of many eminent persons; but nothing of importance was discovered, and it was common for each political party to charge its opponents with the invention of the plot. While this excitement was still high, the secret treaty with Louis XIV. was revealed, and parliament impeached the lord treasurer Danby, who suffered for the crimes of which he was only an accomplice. Charles interrupted these proceedings by proroguing parliament, Dec. 21, 1678, and dissolving it, Jan. 24, 1679. The new parliament met March 6, and did one noble deed in passing the habeas corpus act, which Charles signed May 20. A bill for the exclusion of the duke of York from the succession to the throne passed a second reading in the commons, when parliament was prorogued on May 20 to Aug. 14, and before its reassembling dissolved.
On Nov. 15 the next house of commons passed the bill, but it was rejected by the house of lords. In 1683 the discovery of the Rye House plot led to the arrest of a number of eminent whig leaders upon suspicion of complicity. There seems to have been a real plot among some obscure persons, but the complicity of these leaders was not believed even by the royalists of the time; yet Lord William Russell was beheaded July 21, Algernon Sidney Dec. 7, and Sir Thomas Armstrong June 20, 1684. The duke of York was now closely associated with the king, and openly succeeded to the chief administration of public affairs.
He had consented to the marriage of his daughter Anne with the Protestant Prince George of Denmark, and was restored to his offices of high admiral and privy councillor. Arbitrary government was unchecked in England, while abroad the nation counted for nothing. Even some of Charles's advisers felt the national degradation. Halifax suggested the calling of a parliament, and opposed the French alliance. The duke of York opposed him. While this discussion was unsettled, the king was struck with apoplexy. When it was plain that he was dying, the duchess of Portsmouth told Barillon, the French ambassador, that Charles was really a Roman Catholic, and was dying outside the pale of his church. Barillon told the duke of York, and James, conferring with his brother, at his desire brought him a priest, and Charles confessed and received extreme unction. - Charles had good natural abilities and an amiable temperament. His early education and misfortunes quickened his wit, but left him careless of duty, incapable of self-denial, and skeptical of all virtue. He knew the worthlessness of his favorites, but was their slave, though not their dupe. He was lavish of money, but not generously so, giving to those who pressed him hardest.
His political course was not from motives of principle and conviction, as his father's had been, but he wished to be a king after the French fashion, unhampered by lack of money or constitutional obstacles in the pursuit of his personal wishes. He was devoid of revenge as well as of gratitude, and treated friends and enemies with the same indolent selfishness. His affability, however, made him to some extent popular, in spite of his gross defects of character and disgraceful misgovernment. - Charles had no children by his queen. Among his natural children were: 1, James, duke of Monmouth, by Mrs. Lucy Walters, born at Rotterdam in 1049, ancestor of the dukes of Buc-cleugh; 2, Mary, also by Mrs. Walters: 3, Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria Boyle (alias Fitzroy), by Elizabeth Viscountess Shannon; 4, Charles, surnamed Fitz-Charles, by Mrs. Catharine Peg; 5, a daughter by Mrs. Peg, who died in infancy; 0, Charles Fitzroy, duke of Southampton, by the duchess of Cleveland; 7, Henry Fitzroy, duke of Grafton, by the same, ancestor of the dukes of Grafton; 8, George Fitzroy, duke of Northumberland, by the same; 9, Charlotte Fitzroy, by the same; 10, Charles Beanclerc, duke of St. Albans, by the famous Nell Gwynn, ancestor of the dukes of St. Albans; 11, Charles Lenox, duke of Richmond, by Louise Querouaille. a French woman, created duchess of Portsmouth, ancestor of the dukes of Richmond; and 12, Mary-Tudor, by Mrs. Mary Davis. - See Bishop Burnett's "History of His Own Time;" Evelyn's "Diary and Correspondence; " Samuel Pepys's "Diary and Correspondence;" Gramont's "Memoirs," by Hamilton; and Jesse's "Court of the Stuarts."