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King Charles II

King Charles II (1630-1685)

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King Charles II of Britain

Charles II was an easy-going man, and is known in history as the "Merry Monarch", with religious toleration dominating the political scene during his reign.

The king had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children, and loved racing and gambling which this led to him having a considerable influence on Restoration art and literature.

He spent part of the English Civil War as Prince of Wales fighting on his father's behalf (King Charles I) in the West of England.

Charles's foreign policy was a wavering balance of alliances with France and the Dutch and his reign also saw the rise of 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.

His desire to become an absolute monarch caused him to favour Catholicism for his subjects as most consistent with absolute monarchy, converting from a Protestant to a Catholic on his deathbed.

His reign was also distinguished by occurrence of the plague, the great fire of London and the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act, one of the great bulwarks of English liberty next to the Magna Charta.

 22 Aug 1642  CECivil war in England officially began as Charles I declared war on Parliament from Nottingham. Charles I went to the House of Commons to arrest some of its members and was refused entry. From this point on no monarch was allowed entry. The war ended in 1651.
  2 Jul 1644  CELord Cromwell crushed the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor near York, England.
 14 Jun 1645  CEOliver Cromwell's army routed the King's army at Naseby.
  4 Jun 1647  CEThe English army seized King Charles I as a hostage.
 30 Jan 1649  CEThe Prince of Wales becomes King Charles II, of England, although technically Britain is a republic.
 30 Jan 1649  CEKing Charles I of England was beheaded at Banqueting House, Whitehall by the hangman Richard Brandon. Britain then became a republic between 1649 and 1660.
 30 Jan 1649  CEParliament became the supreme power in England under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, who ruled over Parliament as Lord Protector of the New Commonwealth from 1649-1658.
 23 Jun 1650  CEAfter his arrival in Scotland, Charles II signs the Scotish Covenant.
  1 Jan 1651  CECharles II Stuart was crowned King of Scotland at Scone.
  3 Sep 1651  CEThe Battle of Worcester when Charles II and his Scottish army was defeated by Oliver Cromwell and the parliamentarian army.
  3 Sep 1658  CEOliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the New Commonwealth, ruler over England's parliament, dies from malaria. He is suceeded by his son Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector. When Oliver Cromwell was dying, he refused to take the only known treatment (quinine from cinchona) because it was introduced by Jesuits.
    1659  CERichard Cromwell resigns as English Lord Protector.
  4 Apr 1660  CEKing Charles II signes the 'Declaration of Breda' to establish a general amnesty and freedom of conscience.
  8 May 1660  CECharles II was proclaimed King of England. When a new Westminster parliament was elected, no representatives from Scotland were requested. Hence, the Cromwellian Union lapsed.
 23 May 1660  CECharles II arived in England from Europe.
 29 May 1660  CECharles II, who had fled to France, arrived in London and is restored to the English throne after the Puritan Commonwealth.
   May 1660  CEKing Charles II returns from exile sails from Scheveningen to England.
   Jun 1660  CECharles II was crowned King in Westminster Abbey.
   Aug 1660  CEThe Act of Indemnity and Oblivion was passed.
    1660  CEBritish Long Parliament disbands.
    1660  CEEnglish King Charles II visits Netherlands.
    1661  CEKing Charles II marries Portuguese princess Catherina the Braganca.
    1661  CEThe first Yacht race, England's King Charles vs his brother James.
    1661  CEThe first pariament of King Charles II meets at Westminster.
    1661  CEThe Corporation Act excludes 'Nonconformists' from holding office in England.
    1661  CEThe Militia Act was passed which vested control of the armed forces in the Crown and guarenteed funding for the army from Parliament.
c.    1661  CEThe the Triennial Act of 1641 was repealed.
    1662  CEThe Act of Uniformity compels Puritans to accept the doctrines of the Church of England or leave the church.
    1662  CEThe Royal Society was given its royal charter by King Charles II. It soon became the world's foremost scientific society.
    1662  CETo raise cash, Charles II sold Dunkirk to France for 40,000 pounds.
 24 Mar 1663  CECharles II of England awarded lands known as Carolina in North America to eight members of the nobility who assisted in his restoration. This established the American Colony of North Carolina.
  8 Jul 1663  CEKing Charles II of England granted a charter to Rhode Island guaranteeing freedom of worship..
 27 Jul 1663  CEBritish Parliament passed a second Navigation Act, requiring all goods bound for the colonies be sent in British ships from British ports.
    1663  CEKing Charles II affirms charter of Royal African Company.
 12 Mar 1664  CENew Jersey became a British colony as King Charles II granted land in the New World to his brother James, the Duke of York.
 22 Mar 1664  CECharles II gave large tracks of land from west of the Connecticut River to the east of Delaware Bay in North America to his brother James, the Duke of York.
  5 Sep 1664  CEAfter days of negotiation, the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam,under Peter Stuyvesant, surrendered to 300 British, soldiers. The British later renamed it New York.
    1665  CEBritish rename New Amsterdam to New York after the Dutch pull out.
    1665  CEBritish King Charles II declares war on The Netherlands at the beginning of the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667).
    1665  CEThe Great Plague of London killed a quarter of the population, an estimated 68,000 people.
    1665  CEThe British Five-Mile Act prevents 'Nonconformist' clergy from coming within five miles of their parish towns.
  2 Sep 1666  CEGreat London Fire begins in Pudding Lane when 80% of London is destroyed, including St Paul's Church.
  2 Sep 1666  CEA fire demolished about four-fifths of London which started at the house of King Charles II's baker, Thomas Farrinor. Approximately 13,200 houses, 90 churches and 50 livery company halls burned down or exploded but only claimed only 16 lives. It actually helped impede the spread of the Black Plague, as most of the disease-carrying rats were killed in the fire.
  5 Sep 1666  CEThe Fire of London was extinguished after two days.
 18 Jun 1667  CEThe Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames and threatened London.
 21 Jul 1667  CEThe Peace of Breda ended the Second Anglo-Dutch War and ceded Dutch New Amsterdam to the English. The South American country of Surinam, formerly Dutch Guiana, was ceded by England to the Dutch in exchange.
    1667  CEThe French and the British sign an anti-Dutch military accord.
    1668  CEEnglish King Charles II gives Bombay to East India Company.
   Apr 1670  CEColonists landed on the western bank of the Ashley River, five miles from the sea, and named their settlement Charles Town in honor of Charles II, King of England.
 26 May 1670  CEA treaty was signed in secret in Dover, England, between Charles II and Louis XIV ending hostilities between them.
   May 1670  CEThe Hudson Bay Co. was chartered by England's King Charles II.
    1671  CEThe second son of King Charles I, James, became a Catholic, leading to the first attempts to exclude him from succession but he later became James VII of Scotland and II of England (1685-1688).
    1672  CEBritain declares war on the Netherlands at the beginning of the third Anglo-Dutch war (1672-1674).
    1672  CEBritish King Charles II enacts the 'Declaration of Indulgence'.
    1673  CEEnglish King Charles II accepts the 'Test Act' which excluded Roman Catholics from public office.
    1674  CENetherlands and England sign Peace of Westminster when New York City formally becomes British, ending the third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674).
    1675  CERoyal Greenwich Observatory established in England by Charles II to provide navigational information to sailors.
    1675  CE(1675-1710) In London, Old St. Paul's Cathedral was replaced with a new design by Sir Christopher Wren.
    1675  CELely painted a portrait of Nell Gwynn, the favorite mistress of Charles II. It is now in the London National Gallery.
 29 May 1677  CEKing Charles II and 12 Virginia Indian chiefs signed a treaty that established a 3-mile non-encroachment zone around Indian land. The Mattaponi Indians in 1997 invoked this treaty to protect against encroachment.
    1677  CEBritich King Charles II agrees to an anti-French covenant with Netherlands.
 28 Nov 1678  CEEngland's King Charles II accused his wife, Catherine of Braganza, of treason, because she had yet to bear him children.
    1678  CEThe 'Popish Plot' was fabricated by Titas Oats, who alleged that there was a Catholic plot to murder Charles II of Britain. The government over-reacts and many Catholics are persecuted.
    1679  CEHabeaus Corpus Act passes in Britain. This means that there can be no false or arbitary arrest and imprisonment.
    1679  CEKing Charles II disbands English parliament.
    1679  CEThe Exclusion Bill (1679-1681) attempts to exclude James, brother of King Charles II, from the succession.
    1679  CEThe names 'Whig' and 'Tory' are first used as names for British political parties.
  4 Mar 1681  CEEngland's King Charles II granted a charter to British Quaker William Penn making him sole propritor of an area of land that later became Pennsylvania. Penn laid out the city of Philadelphia as a gridiron about 2 miles long, east to west, and a mile wide.
    1681  CEThe third Exclusion Parliament meets in London.
    1681  CEThe Earl of Shaftsbury challenged the king on the question of succession. The king dissolved Parliament and threw Shaftsbury into the Tower of London and charged him with treason. Shaftsbury was acquitted and went to Holland with John Locke.
    1683  CEThe Rye House Plot to murder King Charles II is discovered.
  6 Feb 1685  CECharles II of England died and was succeeded by his brother, James II, a Roman Catholic. Charles II became a Roman Catholic on his deathbed.
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