Unsurprisingly, King Charles II (May 29, 1630 – February 6, 1685), King of Scotland from 1649 until 1651, and King of Scotland, England and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death. The eldest surviving son of the unpopular Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria, he was exiled under the English Commonwealth when, after Charles I’s execution, Oliver Cromwell essentially ruled England as a dictator. Invited by Parliament to return to the throne 18 months after Cromwell’s death, he sought to strengthen the monarchy by an alliance with Louis XIV of France which might destroy England’s chief commercial rivals, the Dutch, and free the king from financial dependence on Parliament, which he would later go on to dissolve, but ultimately he was not successful. Nicknamed the ‘merry monarch’ on account of the liveliness of his court, his reign also saw a reaction against Puritan austerities – restoration drama enlivened the theatres, experimental science was encouraged through the Royal Society, art and architecture flourished. Tolerant in religion, he failed to improve the lot of Catholics and dissenters because of the opposition of his strongly Puritan parliament. He acknowledged 12 illegitimate children, though left no heirs, and it was his brother James, Duke of York who succeeded him. The street itself was built by Henry Jermyn (hence Jermyn Street) as part of a scheme of streets leading to St James’s Square. Building on St James’s Field, which he had received from Charles II as a reward for loyalty during the king’s exile, to show his gratitude Jermyn named some other nearby streets after the king and his brother, the Duke of York: King Street, Duke Street St James’s, and Duke of York Street.
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