Charles II (1630-1685) was King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He ascended the throne in 1660, marking the end of republican rule in England.

Charles was born on May 29, 1630, the eldest son of King Charles I. He was 12 years old when the English Civil War broke out, and two years later was made commander-in-chief in western England. The victory belonged to the parliament, so he was banished to mainland Europe. He lived in the Netherlands and learned of his father's execution in 1649.

King Charles I

In 1650, Charles signed an agreement with the Scots and was proclaimed King of the land. He led the Scottish army to invade England, but was defeated by General Cromwell (lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland) at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Charles was again banished from England. It was not until 1660 that he was invited to return to his homeland to regain the throne. Although he punished those who signed the order to execute his father, King Charles I, he enforced a policy of political tolerance and power-sharing. The process of realizing Charles's desire for religious freedom (largely due to his leaning towards Catholicism) was met with resistance. He repeatedly tried to formalize the acceptance of Catholics and non-conformists, but had to stop in the face of fierce parliamentary opposition.

The Battle of Worcester, 1651 with the victory of General Cromwell

The early years of Charles' reign saw a terrible Great Plague of London (1665) and the Great Fire of London (1666), which forced London to rebuild the city's essentials. From 1665 to 1667, the Second Anglo-Dutch War took place, which ended with the victory of the Dutch. In 1670, Charles signed a secret treaty with King Louis XIV of France. He pledged to convert to Catholicism and would assist France in its war against the Netherlands (the Third Anglo-Dutch War broke out between 1672 and 1674). In return, he wanted France to provide more aid, to serve the plan against parliament.

Louis XIV of France

In 1677, Charles married his niece Mary to Prince William of Orange (who was a Protestant), in part to reassert himself as Protestant. Although Charles had many illegitimate children with his mistresses, he had no children with his wife, Queen Catherine of Braganza. So his Catholic brother (James) was chosen as his successor. His dealings with France, along with his attempts to become an absolute ruler were exposed, deepening the conflict between him and the parliament. He dissolved parliament in 1681. From then until his death, he ruled the kingdom alone.

King Charles II

The reign of King Charles saw the spread of colonial conquests and trade in India, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas (the British recaptured New York from the Dutch in year 1664); and with the passage of the Freedom of Navigation Act, Britain can secure its status as a sea power in the future. In 1660 Charles founded the Royal Society (also known as the Royal Scientific Society of England). Charles converted to Catholicism on February 6, 1685 in his hospital bed and died the same day.

November 03, 2021 — Phung Mai

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