Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dead King Watch: Charles II the 'Merry Monarch'

Charles II died on 6 February 1685 - which makes today the 321st anniversary of his death. His reign, which began in 1660, marked the Restoration of the monarchy. Charles II is known in history as the "Merry Monarch", with religious toleration dominating the political scene during his reign, but perhaps also because of his numerous mistresses and illegitimate children:

'He publicly acknowledged fourteen children by seven mistresses; six of those children were borne by a single woman, the notorious Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, whom Charles granted the Dukedom of Cleveland. His other favourite mistresses were Nell Gwynne and Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. Charles also acknowledged children by Lucy Walter, Elizabeth Killigrew, Viscountess Shannon and Catherine Pegge, Lady Greene. The present Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Duke of Richmond and Gordon, Duke of Grafton and Duke of St Albans all descend from Charles in direct male line...It is worth noting that Diana, Princess of Wales was descended from two of Charles' illegitimate sons, the Duke of Grafton and the Duke of Richmond (who is also a direct ancestor of Camilla Parker Bowles). Thus her son HRH Prince William of Wales, currently second in line to the British Throne, will very likely be the first British monarch descended from Charles II, and the first descended from Charles I since the death of Queen Anne in 1714.' Well, we all know what happened to Charles I...

Charles II's foreign policy was a wavering balance of alliances with France and the Dutch but his reign also saw the rise of British imperialism through colonisation and trade in India, the East Indies and America, and the passage of Navigation Acts that secured Britain's future as a sea-power. Charles granted the British East India Company the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops, to form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas in India.

To be fair to him, he did pass the Habeas Corpus Act, however, in 1679, which modern imperialists like Blair are trying to do away with.



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