Hail, King Charles III. But Who Were Charles I and Charles II?
In the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles is now automatically King Charles III, ruling over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. His coronation is not immediate but will be held months later, in accordance with Operation Unicorn. At 73, Charles is the oldest person in history to assume the British throne.
But he is not the first Charles to become king. His predecessors and namesakes Charles I and Charles II were quite colorful characters, although poor models to be emulated by King Charles III.
Who was King Charles I?
King Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his infamous death by execution in 1649. He is the only British monarch in history to be executed.
But he was also an infamous ruler. He firmly believed in the principle of Divine Right, that kings were fated by God, earning him many enemies. Parliamentarians accused him of being a tyrant. His reign was marked by a brutal civil war that led to the abolition of the royal family.
During the English Civil War (1642–1651), Charles I put himself under the protection of the Scottish presbyterian army that laid seige on Newark, a stronghold of the Parliament, who wanted to curb the powers of the king. Unfortunately, the Scotts double-crossed King Charles I in 1647 and and delivered him to the hands of Parliament for in exchange for £100,000.
After years of trial and captivity, Charles I was beheaded in 1649. His head was held up and exhibited to the crowd, some of whom dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood as souvenirs.
Who was King Charles II?
King Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651, and King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685. Charles I, the beheaded king, was his father.
Under his reign, Britain expanded its colonization and trade in India, the East Indies, and America. It was also during his reign when the Black Death Plague of 1665, also known as the Great Plague of London, decimated populations in the city, killing at least 100,000 people in just a year and a half.
Just like his father Charles I, King Charles II was at odds with Parliament. He dissolved Parliament twice during his latter years, and ruled as an absolute monarch.
He died a sudden death after some of his internal organs ruptured in what is known as apoplexy. Charles had no legitimate children but acknowledged a dozen by seven mistresses.