King Charles Street, SW1A

place name

King Charles II (May 29, 1630 – February 6, 1685), King of Scotland between 1649 – 1651, King of Scotland, England and Ireland from 1660 until his death, the reigning monarch when the street was built in 1682. The eldest surviving son of the unpopular Charles I and his consort 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 was ultimately 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 Anglican parliament. While acknowledging 12 illegitimate children, Charles II left no heirs, and it was his brother James, Duke of York who succeeded him.

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