The blood-soaked legacy of King Charles reaches as far back as 1625, beginning with King Charles I. There is great value in a good name, but King Charles III had an uphill battle.
Charles I succeeded his father James I in 1625 as King of England and Scotland, because his brother Henry had died in 1612. He was a disastrous king, his actions frustrating his Parliament and resulting in three English Civil Wars between the king’s army and the parliament. Charles believed he had the royal prerogative to rule and raise money apart from Parliament.
Controversial King Charles
Charles I was controversial from the start. In the first year of his reign, he married by proxy, the 15-year-old Catholic, French Henrietta Maria. It was not a love match and to begin with the couple did not get on, but it offended English Protestants.
As a child Henrietta was surrounded by intrigue, her father being assassinated six months after her birth. At age seven her mother was banned from Paris. Her life with Charles was filled with more intrigue. Charles and Henrietta had nine children, two of them would become future kings of England.
Queen Consort, Henrietta, played a significant role in promoting the arts, including sculpture and design. She was instrumental in the growth of masques, a type of courtly entertainment that revolved around elaborate costumes and sets. She even featured in many of them, with a woman being seen on stage for the first time.
King Charles Disposed of Opposition in His Blood-Soaked Legacy
King Charles quickly disposed of opposition in his continuing blood-soaked legacy. He dissolved Parliament whenever he was challenged and disposed of his opposers. At one point, there was no Parliament for 11 years.
Costly overseas military campaigns would drain the coffers, so the king would permit Parliament to reassemble. Like his father before him, Charles believed he was above the law.
Queen Henrietta Alienated the Subjects
Queen Consort, Henrietta Maria, alienated many of their subjects, as she practiced Roman Catholicism openly at the royal court. However, during the start of the Civil Wars she displayed courage and determination in mustering support for her husband’s cause and raising funds for him.
When things turned against them, she took their two eldest sons and fled to France in 1644. These two sons would be future kings of England, King Charles II and King James. Obviously, more importance was placed on these two children than on the other seven. They were the heir and the spare.
Blood-Soaked Legacy of King Charles
King Charles’ reign was the bloodiest conflict in the history of the British Isles. Between 1642 and 1651 2.45% of the civilian population lost their lives. 200,000 civilians died, directly or indirectly, through the Civil Wars. The English countryside was bathed in blood, as Englishmen plundered Englishmen.
The annual ritual of the monarchy approaching the ceremoniously closed doors of the House of Commons started with Charles I. He had sent his guard into Parliament to arrest MPs, but the Speaker of the House had the door barred.
The closed doors represents the House of Commons’ independence from the Sovereign. Yet, every year the sovereign opens the new sitting of Parliament amid rich ritual and reads the policy written by parliamentarians.
Parliament Defeated Charles’ Army
Parliament defeated Charles I and they charged him with treason. The king refused to answer the charges as he did not recognize the authority of the High Court.
The Court judged Charles was a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy. He was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall on 1649.
Charles faced his death with courage and dignity, giving the executioner a signal that he was ready to be beheaded. Politicians pushed through legislation to prevent Charles II from succeeding his father.
Queen Remained In Exile
Queen Henrietta Maria and Charles’ two oldest sons remained in exile in Europe. A week after Charles’ death the Parliament officially abolished the monarchy.
Queen Henrietta lived for another 20 years after her husband’s death. She spent a lot of her time in a convent that she founded. Queen Henrietta returned briefly to England, as her son was the king. For the few years of her life, she was granted a pension of £60,000 a year. She died in France in 1669.
Blood-Soaked Legacy Of King Charles Continued
Charles II attempted to save his father in 1948, but to no avail. His blood-soaked legacy continued. At age 20 he was defeated on the battlefield by Cromwell. He disguised himself and hid in an oak tree.
While in exile, he was crowned King of Scotland, and ruled between 1649 to 1651. This was in defiance to the English republic. There was a £1000 reward for his capture, but he escaped to France.
Charles II was cynical, self-indulgent, and skilled in the art of moral evasion. He resisted his mother’s attempt to convert him to Catholicism, remaining openly Protestant.
In 1660, the monarchy was restored and Charles and became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was 30-years old. He had unprecedented authority to maintain a standing army, and purged the boroughs of dissident officials, in the continuing reign of blood-soaked legacy.
The principle beneficiaries of the restoration of the monarchy were the exclusive body of Anglican clergy and a well-armed landed gentry. The Parliament however. was a pervasive and damaging limitation on Charles’ financial independence.
Marriage and an Income
With the newly reinstated monarchy, Charles was a very eligible bachelor. In 1662, he married Princess Catherine of Braganza of Portugal. Not only did he receive a huge dowry from the Portuguese, but also the colonies of Bombay and Tangier as part of the marriage treaty. However, the vast majority of the dowry remained unpaid.
Charles was granted an income of £1,200,000 but the king was an incapable of thrift. Before he received any money, the damage of debt and discredit were irreparable. Combined with negligence and maladministration the reputation of the king sank to its lowest level.
The queen suffered several miscarriages and reduced the hope for a legitimate heir. The English were discontented with their king, as it seemed he could not produce a legitimate heir.
King Charles II faced the severest political storm of his reign in 1678, when it was discovered there was a plan to murder Charles and replace him with his Catholic brother, James.
Between 1679 and 1681, Charles almost lost control of his government. He kept his nerve and defended his queen against slanders, threats to her life and being targeted by conspiracy theorists.
In 1681, he dissolved Parliament and enjoyed a nationwide surge of loyalty. Reforms at the Treasury provided the crown with a firm basis of administrative control.
Charles had at least 14 illegitimate offspring and his seven mistresses proved costly and often troublesome. He believed God would not make a man miserable for taking a little pleasure along the way. His image as a man was more attractive than his reputation as a king.
King Charles II Was Lazy but Popular
Despite his habitual laziness and hatred of routine and shifty insincerity, King Charles was charismatic and popular. One of his legacies was the founding of the Royal Society, which featured a young Isaac Newton. Christopher Wren built St. Paul’s Cathedral and puritanism was relaxed. Women were allowed to be seen on the stage and Charles made King Charles Spaniels famous.
By the end of his reign in 1685 Charles II died following a time of tranquil prosperity. Charles had no legitimate children, but Princess Diana was descended from two to his illegitimate children, through her two great-grandmothers, Adelaide Seymour and Rosalind Bingham.
King James II and the Blood-Soaked Legacy
One of Charles’ II illegitimate son launched a rebellion against James II, brother of Charles II. The blood-soaked legacy continued when James had 250 rebels executed, and thousands more sent to penal colonies in the West Indies. Protestants were horrified, as James was a devout Catholic and they feared James.
James’ nephew, William and Mary, James’ daughter, were encouraged to seize the throne. James’ army dissolved and he fled to France. Parliament ruled he had abdicated and created the constitutional monarchy we know today.
Pretend King Charles III
James wasted away in exile, but his son, Charles Edward Stuart, more commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, set up court in Scotland, on behalf of his father. Charles tried to take England, but was defeated at the battle of Culloden.
Exiled to France then Italy, Charles passed his days in a blur of drink and a miserable marriage to a German princess. On the death of his father, he styled himself as Charles III.
Neither the kings of France and Spain, nor the Pope, acknowledged Charles as a legitimate king. Only the remnants of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland and Ireland recognized him as Charles III.
He died in 1788, exactly 139 years to the day, after the execution of his great-grandfather, Charles I. The blood-soaked legacy of all three King Charles, must have left the nation wondering why they needed a king?
The True King Charles III
There was never a Charles III of England until Prince Charles ascended the throne on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles III was the longest heir-apparent, but at age 73 he has had a long and profitable apprenticeship.
His mother was a Brand and National Treasure and ruled England for 70 years with courage, wisdom, restraint. She remained calm in the face of numerous traumatic events.
Charles is the oldest person to ascend to a throne. His life has had its share of controversy, but the world wishes him well in his new role. The name King Charles III will create a totally different legacy, as the Monarchy moves into a new age of modernity.
So what does this teach us. Nothing is quite what it seems on the surface and as a woman, we need to look a little deeper at things. There are hidden treasures waiting to be discovered if we have the eyes to see them.