Ten things you didn’t know about King Charles I

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, triptych portrait of King Charles I of England.
  • He wasn’t supposed to be king but his elder brother Henry died of typhoid when Charles was 11;
  • Charles spoke with a Scottish accent and a stammer;
  • When he was 23, he travelled incognito to Spain in a failed bid to woo Princess Maria Anna;
  • His French wife Henrietta Maria was 15 when they married. He wanted her to be known as Queen Mary but she refused to use the English name;
  • Charles wrote to her brother King Louis XII complaining about her behaviour;
  • He published “The Book of Sports” encouraging archerydancing, leaping, vaulting and similar activities on Sundays;
  • In 1649, Charles was executed outside the Banqueting House in Westminster having walked beneath the ceiling painting by Rubens which he commissioned to celebrate the divine right of kings;
  • His best-selling posthumous autobiography “Eikon Basilike” or “The King’s Book” went through 36 editions in 1649 alone;
  • Marchamont Nedham, accused Charles of being ‘ruled wholly by his wife’, and said: ‘No man of Conscience or Honesty but must condemn him for he rejoiced in the ruin of his faithful Subjects’;
  • Charles I later employed Marchamont Nedham.

Ten things you didn’t know about
Oliver Cromwell

The OC, warts and all…
  1. He cried when he saw King Charles re-united with his children at a pub in Hertford;
  2. His physician turned him upside down three times, saying that is what Oliver had done to the country;
  3. His daughter Elizabeth married a Royalist and told him he should not have executed the King;
  4. He played bowls at Hampton Court Palace as Charles I used to;
  5. He liked music and theatre and had his own court musician, John Hingston;
  6. He gave permission to Sir William Davenant, a Royalist, to stage “The Siege of Rhodes”, the first opera in English;
  7. His navy conquered Jamaica and gave Britons our love of sugar;
  8. As children, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell once played together. Cromwell punched the prince on the nose and made it bleed.
  9. Marchamont Nedham once threatened to hang Cromwell, writing: ‘Now Nol have at thy nose, I have shot nothing but paper bullets all this while. Therefore Snout look about thee, for if thou be catched we’ll put thy neck (in stead of thy nose) in a noose.’
  10. Oliver Cromwell later employed Marchamont Nedham.

Ten things you didn’t know about
King Charles II

The Merry Monarch
  1. On his escape after the Battle of Worcester, he disguised himself as a servant called William;
  2. ‘William’ was recognised by a butler who was sworn to secrecy;
  3. A sea captain found to ferry Charles away from the Dorset coast never reached the rendezvous – his wife locked him in their bedroom fearing he was up to no-good;
  4. The ship that brought him back to England at the Restoration in 1660 was hastily re-named “The Royal Charles”. It had been called “Naseby” after one of the battles his father lost;
  5. He reached London on his 30th birthday, riding a white stallion. The fountains flowed with wine;
  6. The ‘merry monarch’ had at least 14 illegitimate children by seven mistresses. He had no children with his wife Catherine of Braganza;
  7. After a London crowd mistook her for another royal mistress – Louise de Keroualle, a French Catholic – Nell Gwynne drew cheers when she said: ‘Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore’;
  8. Nell and Charles called their first son the Earl of Burford because he was conceived there when they visited the Oxfordshire town for the horse-racing;
  9. Marchamont Nedham said of him: ‘This is Dad’s own Son, two faces under one hood, being an Hereditary Posture.’ An entire book was published listing the insults Nedham hurled at him;
  10. Charles II later employed Marchamont Nedham.

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