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Charles II
Charles II

Charles II (1630-1685), son of Charles I, was the first of the restored Stuart line. His father's quarrel with Parliament and subsequent civil war meant that Charles II spend his youth in exile in France. This afforded the prince a royal upbringing that was distinctly different from the sheltered and favoured norm. He was often short of money and frequently feared for his life. He was also free to indulge his sexual prowess and had several mistresses and illegitimate children whilst in exile.

In 1651, Charles invaded England with an army in an attempt to win back his birthright. The Scots proclaimed him king, but his forces were badly defeated by Cromwell's parliamentary army and he fled once again to France.

After Cromwell died in 1658, the English people became dissatisfied with the protectorate. They invited Charles to return, and he became king in 1660. His first Parliament granted him wide powers. The important events of his reign included two wars with the Dutch, the great plague, the Great Fire of London, the Rye House Plot, and the passage of the Habeas Corpus Act.