Charles II

Portrait of Charles II

Born: 1630
Died: 1685
Reigned: de iure from 1649;
de facto, 1660–85

  • After the defeat of his father (Charles I), spent his twenties mostly in exile on the continent
  • From July 1650 to August 1651 he was in Scotland, where he was crowned at Scone on 1 January 1651
  • Returned to England for the Restoration in 1660, at the invitation of his subjects
  • His coronation incorporated a deliberate re-statement of monarchical ritual, for which magnificent new regalia and altar silver were supplied
  • Married Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662; the union was childless
  • Rebuilt or refurbished a large part of the royal apartments in Windsor Castle, with interiors decorated by Antonio Verrio and Grinling Gibbons
  • Began a new royal palace at Greenwich, completed later as the Royal Naval Hospital
  • Commissioned the architect Sir William Bruce to rebuild the Palace of Holyroodhouse, after its damage by Cromwell’s troops
  • Founded the Royal Society, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, designed by Christopher Wren, for the care of old soldiers
  • Recovered what he could of Charles I’s art collection, including portraits by Van Dyck
  • In 1660 the Dutch Government presented 24 Italian paintings, by artists such as Lotto, Tintoretto and Titian
  • In 1662, he bought 72 paintings, by La Tour, Veronese and Bruegel, among others
  • The first royal collector to appreciate drawings, acquiring the volumes containing 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and 80 drawings by Holbein
  • Sir Peter Lely was appointed his Principal Painter shortly after the Restoration
  • Commissioned a sequence of 110 royal portraits of Scottish kings from Jacob de Wet for the Palace of Holyroodhouse

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