Charlemagne (c.742-814), also known as Karl and Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. He embarked on a mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. A skilled military strategist, he spent much of his reign engaged in warfare in order to accomplish his goals. In 800, Pope Leo III (750-816) crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans. In this role, he encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a cultural and intellectual revival in Europe. When he died in 814, Charlemagne’s empire encompassed much of Western Europe, and he had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. Today, Charlemagne is referred to by some as the father of Europe.
Coin of Charles the Simple - History
with the Worlds most successful metal detecting club
Twinned with Midwest Historical Research Society USA
Despite enduring a sickly childhood Charles matured into a strong-willed Stuart monarch and an advocate of the divine right of kings. It was his strength, however, that proved his nemesis. After repeated mismanagement of royal affairs - in a style akin to his father James I - Charles was forced into conflict with Parliament that led to civil wars, first with Scotland in 1637, then with England (in 1642-46 and again in 1648), ending with his death by execution.
The second son of James I, King of Scotland and England, and Anne of Denmark, Charles was born a Scottish prince in Fife. He became heir to the throne following the death of his brother Henry. His manner was reserved - he suffered a residual stammer - and self-righteous. His refined tastes and love for the arts put a great deal of pressure on the royal budget, rapidly increasing the crown's debts. The other relevant aspect of his character, which hugely influenced contemporary events, was Charles' religiosity he was a supporter of high Anglican worship which encouraged ritual and decorum. His marriage to Henrietta Maria of France, a Roman Catholic, added to his unpopularity.
Charles' reign began with an unhappy friendship with George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who used his influence against the wishes of other nobility. Buckingham was assassinated in 1628. Meanwhile, Charles had dissolved Parliament three times between 1625 and 1629 then chose to rule without summoning Parliament for 11 years. Unrest in Scotland - because Charles attempted to force a new prayer book on the country - put an end to his personal rule. Funds to quash the rebellion were limited and Charles was forced to call first the Short Parliament then the Long Parliament. Conflict in the House led to a foolish decision, prompted by Henrietta, to have five members arrested and civil war erupted.
In 1642 the royal standard was raised by Charles at Nottingham against the Parliamentary forces. The king's supporters, known as the Cavaliers, came from the ranks of peasants and nobility who fought against the militia drawn from the emerging middle classes, Puritans known as the Roundheads. Led by Oliver Cromwell, the New Model Army routed the Cavaliers at Naseby in 1645 and Charles surrendered a year later to the Scottish forces. In 1648 he was put on trail for treason and the king was found guilty by one vote (68 to 67) and his execution was ordered for 1649.
The "English Civil War" of the mid-17th Century was part of a wider conflict that involved Scotland and Ireland as well as England and Wales. Also called "The Wars of the Three Kingdoms" and the "English Revolution", the British Civil Wars and Commonwealth period laid the foundations of the modern British constitution.
From the signing of the Scottish National Covenant of 1638 to the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, this site explores the turmoil of the Civil Wars and Interregnum, and the constitutional experiments of the Commonwealth and Protectorate period of the 1650s.
Charles 1st hammered silver gilded penny - fake gold during civil war rebellion at Colchester ??
1641-3 Charles 1st hammered silver penny - mintmark 2 dots
King had left London and Parliament stuck these coins
1643-4 Charles 1st hammered silver half crown (30 pence) - mint mark P in brackets - Tower mint under Parliament
Monster 1625 Charles 1st hammered gold Unite forgery
Charles 1st Scottish 30 shillings 14.95g, 35.63mm
Obv - CAROLUS D.G MAGN BRITAN FRAN ET HIB REX B - Charles by the grace of God King of Britain France and Ireland B(riot)
Rev QUAE DEUS CONIVNXIT NEMO SEPARET - What God hath joined together let no man put asunde
1631 - 32 Charles 1st milled silver half crown (30 pence)
Nicholas Briot's milled coinage - Group III cloak on shoulder
Great relic - 1638 Charles 1st milled silver crown forgery
Two thick silver sheets over a copper core
1660-2 Charles II hammered silver half crown - 30 pence half crown mint mark - 3rd issue
14.68g, 35.1mm dia x 2mm thick
First milled coinage of Charles 1st Reign 1631
Fantastic find - one of the earliest milled coins during the hammered silver coin period.
Nicholas Briot's coinage 1631-9
1631-9 Briots coinage - Charles 1st milled silver half crown - first test milled silver
This would have been a monster find in good shape
1631-9 Nicolas Briot's coinage
Charles 1st milled silver one pence one of the first milled silver coinages ever made
rev IUSTITIA THRONUM FIRMAT
This coin has me totally stumped !!
First 1645 Charles 1st hammered silver three pence we have found - double struck coin which has obscured the mint mark. The coin has been rotated and double stuck and the combination of oval shield with this legend does not match. It is possible that it is a half groat and that the III behind bust is II. It could be a Tower half groat Group D, North 2254 but the crown is not that of a bust 4.
I suspect this is a very rare coin as I cannot match it in JJ North's ref book. The normal Tower legend is IUS THRONUM FIRMAT and most have the CHRISTO legend. Some coins had the IUSTITA written in full.
Is this an overstrike of a Ashby de la Zouche mint trying to cover the declaration coins in 1645/6 ? I will let the museum experts have a look when it is being recorded.
Rev IUSTITA THORNUM FIRMAT
Probably one of the smallest hammered silver coins you can find, 1/3rd the weight of a Medieval silver farthing
Tiny 1625 Charles 1st hammered silver half penny - rose both sides, no legend type - 10.19mm, 0.32g
Coin of Charles the Simple - History
Milled coins were minted for the first time in 1561, in the reign of Elizabeth I. A screw press powered by horses was used in their manufacture, under the supervision of a Frenchman, Eloye Mestrelle. The quality of the coins was vastly superior to the normal hammered coinage, but production was much slower. Mestrelle was also resented as an interloper by the mint workers because of his nationality and unpopular because his machinery was perceived as a threat to their continued employment. After ten years Mestrelle was dismissed and the milled coinage ceased. Later Mestrelle turned to counterfeiting, for which he was hanged in 1578.
In gold, the milled coinage consisted of a limited number of half pounds, value ten shillings, crowns of five shillings, and extremely rare half-crowns of two shillings and sixpence, all beautifully styled and well-struck and circular. However, though produced throughout the reign, there were no milled versions of the gold angel, half angel and quarter angels, all of which had the same respective values but different designs. The gold milled coinage is found with two mintmarks, a star or a lis.
The silver shilling was over 30 mm diameter, and suffered slightly by a much shallower relief, particularly on the reverse. This may have been a result of the thicker metal flan used. Only one mintmark, the star, is known and it is thought that they were only minted in 1561. A slightly smaller version from the same period is usually better struck.
Elizabeth I milled sixpence 1567
Also in silver, the sixpence was produced nearly every year over a period of eleven years and all were dated. Because of their long mintage, they are relatively common. Various mintmarks were used. Rare silver groats of four pence were minted in 1561 and silver threepence from 1561-1564. Despite the longer production period the latter coin is also fairly scarce. Equally scarce are the silver half groat or two pence. The scarcity of these two denominations and the absence of a milled silver penny reflects the difficulties in milling these small coins.
After the departure of Mestrelle almost sixty years elapsed before the Mint was prepared to experiment with another milled coinage. Again it was the work of a Frenchman, Nicholas Briot, who joined the mint as chief engraver in 1628 during the reign of Charles I. His coinage was of an extremely high standard, in contrast with the hand-made hammered coinage which was generally of poor quality. The first series was minted in 1631-32 and included all the gold denominations.
Briot's first milled coinage
Charles I silver penny 1631-1632
Briot's second milled coinage
Charles I silver sixpence 1638-1639
A second series consisting of only silver coins was produced in 1637-39. Unfortunately, Briot and his milled coinage were as unpopular in the mint as Mestrelle, and probably for the same reasons. In 1635 Briot was appointed as Master of the mint in Scotland where a further series of milled Scottish coins were produced between 1637 and 1642. Briot's son-in-law, John Falconer, was associated with him in this coinage. The coins were similar but those of Briot are normally marked with a B and those of Falconer with an F.
Charles I gold unite minted in Scotland 1637-1642
Briot's third coinage
Charles I silver 30 shillings minted in Scotland 1637-1642
Charles I silver 12 shillings minted in Scotland
Briot was also responsible for a series of unadopted pattern coins in silver and gold, which included silver groats, threepences and half groats (two pences). Some of these coins saw circulation.
Briot pattern silver half groat for Charles I
Copper coins exist which use the same dies
1st Milled Issue 1631-1632
Wt. circa 9 grammes
Wt. circa 4.5 grammes
Wt.circa 2.25 grammes
Half groat (Twopence)
2nd Milled Issue 1638-1639
Scottish Coinage 1637 -1642
Unite (12 pounds)
Half Unite (Six pounds)
Crown (Three pounds)
Half-crown (30 shillings)
Wt. circa 9 grammes
Wt. circa 4.5 grammes
Wt. circa 2.25 grammes
Wt. circa 1.1 grammes
Half Merk (6s. 8d. or 80 pence)
Scottish Coinage 1637 -1642
Unite (12 pounds)
Half Unite (Six pounds)
Note: At this time the Scottish unite of twelve pounds was equal to one English pound and thus the three pounds coin of 60 shilling coin was equivalent to the English crown and the 30 shilling coin equalled the English half crown. Accordingly the 12 Scottish pence coin was the same as the English shilling. The denominations were intended to circulate in both countries.
Pierre Blondeau and the designs of David Ramage and Thomas Simon
In 1651 the Commonwealth authorities, who had received favourable reports about Continental milled coins, invited Peter Blondeau from Paris to bring his machinery to London for trials. He produced pattern halfcrowns, shillings and sixpences in silver, all bearing the date 1651. A series of halfcrown and sixpence milled patterns were also designed by an Englishman, David Ramage.
However, it was not until 1656 that Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector, ordered the minting of coins bearing his portrait. They were produced on the machines of Peter Blondeau, from designs by Thomas Simon (also known as Thomas Symonds. Two gold denominations were minted, the smaller and most common being the broad, a forerunner of the guinea. The other was a 50 shilling coin. Neither coin seems to have entered circulation and are regarded as patterns. They were dated 1656, the same year that Blondeau returned to Paris.
Oliver Cromwell milled silver crown 1658
designed by Thomas Simon
Similarly the silver coins are also patterns. These consist of crowns, halfcrowns, shillings and extremely rare sixpences. Most are dated 1658, though some halfcrowns are dated 1656, and utilise similar designs to the gold. After the death of Thomas Simon some of his puncheons were used to make false dies from which a number of silver crowns and a totally spurious half-broad in gold were struck in Holland, known as the Dutch copies. In the early 18th Century the dies and puncheons were obtained by the Royal Mint and in 1738 new dies were made by John Tanner, the chief engraver and some coins were struck from them known as the "Tanner Copies". Most genuine specimens of the crown have a die flaw across the lower part of the obverse. A less obvious flaw can also be found on the obverse of the shillings.
1792 Charles IV of Spain 8 escudos
Chelsea D. writes: Dear Coin Doc, My daughter found an old coin dated 1792. On the front it says CAROL IIII D. G. HIS P. ET IND. R with a picture of a man facing right. On the tails side it has a picture of a crest with a crown on top and says IN UTRO FELIX AUSPICE DEO. On the left of the crest there is an 8 and on the right an S. Can you please give me some information about it and it’s value. Thanks for your time!
Gold 8 Escudos dated 1792 would be under Charles IIII (IV) of Spain. Though this coin was not struck in Spain, in 1792, it was struck extensively at mints in Spanish America. The mint mark and assayer are at 5:00 and 7:00 on the reverse and are letters or monograms (on either side of the golden fleece). The obverse shows the legend, CAROL III D. G. HISP. ET IND. R (Charles III, by the Grace of G-d King of Spain and the Indies), around the bust of Charles IV facing right. There are varieties of the portrait depending on the mint.
The reverse shows the Crowned shield of the King of Spain surrounded by a chain suspending the golden fleece. The Latin legend around is, IN UTRO FELIX AUSPICE DEO (under the fortunate guidance of G-d). Genuine 8 escudos weigh about 27 grams (27.06 grams is about official weight) and were struck on .875 fine gold planchets. The coin is gold in color (brass and copper museum copies exist). Market value for genuine examples depends on the date, mint mark, assayer and grade (state of preservation). Approximate value range: $1,200 – $4,500.
Coins can be authenticated by NGC, PCGS or ANACS. See their links on the CoinSite Links Page.
How Batteries Work
Batteries have been around longer than you may think. In 1938, archaeologist Wilhelm Konig discovered some peculiar clay pots while digging at Khujut Rabu, just outside of present-day Baghdad, Iraq. The jars, which measure approximately 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long, contained an iron rod encased in copper and dated from about 200 B.C. Tests suggested that the vessels had once been filled with an acidic substance like vinegar or wine, leading Konig to believe that these vessels were ancient batteries. Since this discovery, scholars have produced replicas of the pots that are in fact capable of producing an electric charge. These "Baghdad batteries" may have been used for religious rituals, medicinal purposes, or even electroplating.
In 1799, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first battery by stacking alternating layers of zinc, brine-soaked pasteboard or cloth, and silver. This arrangement, called a voltaic pile, was not the first device to create electricity, but it was the first to emit a steady, lasting current. However, there were some drawbacks to Volta's invention. The height at which the layers could be stacked was limited because the weight of the pile would squeeze the brine out of the pasteboard or cloth. The metal discs also tended to corrode quickly, shortening the life of the battery. Despite these shortcomings, the SI unit of electromotive force is now called a volt in honor of Volta's achievement.
The next breakthrough in battery technology came in 1836 when English chemist John Frederick Daniell invented the Daniell cell. In this early battery, a copper plate was placed at the bottom of a glass jar and a copper sulfate solution was poured over the plate to half-fill the jar. Then the zinc plate was hung in the jar, and a zinc sulfate solution was added. Because copper sulfate is denser than zinc sulfate, the zinc solution floated to the top of the copper solution and surrounded the zinc plate. The wire connected to the zinc plate represented the negative terminal, while the one leading from the copper plate was the positive terminal. Obviously, this arrangement would not have functioned well in a flashlight, but for stationary applications it worked just fine. In fact, the Daniell cell was a common way to power doorbells and telephones before electrical generation was perfected.
By 1898, the Colombia Dry Cell became the first commercially available battery sold in the United States. The manufacturer, National Carbon Company, later became the Eveready Battery Company, which produces the Energizer brand.
Now that you know some of the history, click over to the next page to learn the various parts of a battery.
Humanism and Reformation
As Holy Roman Emperor, he called Martin Luther to the Diet of Worms in 1521, promising him safe conduct if he would appear. He initially dismissed Luther's idea of reformation as, "An argument between monks". He later outlawed Luther and his followers in that same year but was tied up with other concerns and unable to try to stamp out Protestantism.
1524 to 1526 saw the Peasants' Revolt in Germany and the formation of the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League, and Charles delegated increasing responsibility for Germany to his brother Ferdinand while he concentrated on problems abroad.
In 1545 the opening of the Council of Trent began the Counter-Reformation, and Charles won to the Catholic cause some of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. He also attacked the Schmalkaldic League in 1546 and at the Battle of Mühlberg defeated John Frederick, Elector of Saxony and imprisoned Philip of Hesse in 1547. At the Augsburg Interim in 1548 he created a doctrinal compromise that he felt Catholics and Protestants alike might share. A more permanent settlement followed with the 1555 Peace of Augsburg.
10 Things You May Not Know About Charles Darwin
1. Darwin was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln.
Both Darwin and Lincoln were born on February 12, 1809, but in much different settings. While America’s 16th president was born in a rude log cabin in the Kentucky wilderness, Darwin was born in a grand Georgian house on an estate overlooking the River Severn and the medieval market town of Shrewsbury, England.
2. He waited more than 20 years to publish his groundbreaking theory on evolution.
Darwin’s five-year voyage around the world on HMS Beagle, which ended in 1836, provided him with invaluable research that contributed to the development of his theory of evolution and natural selection. Concerned, however, about the public and ecclesiastical acceptance of his deeply radical idea, he did not present his theory on evolution until 1858 when he made a joint announcement with British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who was about to go public with a similar concept to Darwin’s. The next year, Darwin published his seminal work, “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.”
3. Darwin suffered from chronic illnesses.
After returning from his trip around the world, Darwin began to suffer from exhaustion, eczema and chronic bouts of nausea, headaches and heart palpitations that would persist for the rest of his life. Some speculate that during his travels Darwin may have contracted a parasitic illness called Chagas disease that can eventually result in cardiac damage, which ultimately caused Darwin’s death.
Timothy Dickinson tells us about Charles Darwin and the depth of the human past.
4. He composed a pro/con list to decide on whether to marry.
Displaying a logical inclination even in matters of the heart, Darwin in 1838 composed a list with two columns delineating the upsides and downsides of marriage. In the “Marry” column: 𠇌hildren,” 𠇌onstant companion (and friend in old age)tter than a dog anyhow” and “someone to take care of house.” In the “Not Marry” ledger: 𠇏reedom to go where one liked,” 𠇌onversation of clever men at clubs” and “loss of time.” Not on Darwin’s list, however, were family ties for he married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood in 1839.
5. He dropped out of medical school.
Darwin’s father was a successful doctor who groomed his son to follow in his footsteps. After spending the summer of 1825 serving as an apprentice in his father’s practice, he entered one of Britain’s top medical schools at the University of Edinburgh. Darwin, however, hated the sight of blood and was bored with the lectures. He left medical school and dashed his father’s dreams.
6. Darwin was a divinity student.
After leaving the University of Edinburgh, the man who would challenge the established religious dogma of creationism enrolled at Cambridge to study theology. “I did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible,” he later wrote. However, Darwin’s faith began to waver after encountering the evils of slavery on his trip around the world and following the deaths of three of his children. Darwin, though, never characterized himself as an atheist. He instead referred to himself as an agnostic.
7. He dined on exotic animals.
Darwin not only studied an eclectic menagerie of animals from around the globe, he ate them as well. As a student at Cambridge, he formed the Gourmet Club, also known as the Glutton Club, for the purpose of dining on 𠇋irds and beasts, which were before unknown to human palate.” Darwin ate hawk and bittern but couldn’t choke down a brown owl that was served. While circumnavigating the globe on HMS Beagle, Darwin continued his adventurous eating by snacking on armadillo, ostrich and puma (“remarkably like veal in its taste,” he described).
8. He didn’t coin the phrase “survival of the fittest.”
Although associated with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the phrase “survival of the fittest” was actually first used by English philosopher Herbert Spencer in his 1864 “Principles of Biology” to connect his economic and sociological theories with Darwin’s biological concepts. Darwin first adopted the phrase in his fifth edition of “The Origin of Species,” published in 1869, by writing of natural selection that “the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the survival of the fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.”
9. Darwin is buried inside Westminster Abbey.
After Darwin passed away on April 19, 1882, his family began preparations to bury him in the village where he had spent the last 40 years of his life. However, Darwin’s friends and colleagues began a lobbying campaign to give him the high honor of burial inside London’s Westminster Abbey. After newspapers and the public joined the chorus, the Dean of Westminster gave his approval. A week after his death, Darwin was laid to rest in England’s most revered church near fellow scientists John Herschel and Isaac Newton.
10. Darwin appeared on the 10-pound note for 18 years.
Beginning in 2000, a portrait of a bearded Darwin appeared on the back of the British 10-pound note along with an image of HMS Beagle, a magnifying lens and flora and fauna seen on his travels. The Bank of England discontinued his ꌐ note in 2018, however.
Quelling internal dissent
Despite being unified under Pepin Frankia had been divided into two parts the north-eastern kingdom of Austrasia and the more southerly land of Neustria. Cologne was in Austrasia, whose nobles were highly sympathetic to Charles’ cause, and after sensationally escaping from prison he met with them and was proclaimed mayor of Austrasia.
In Neustria, however, a rival called Ragenfrid had himself declared mayor by his tame King Chilperic II – and marched to meet Charles in Austrasia. Charles allowed Ragenfrid’s army to besiege and take Cologne, before feigning a retreat and smashing their complacent forces at the battle of Amblève when they were least expecting it.
Charles had trained his Austrasians himself and their discipline, combined with the tactic of the feigned retreat and ambush, was revolutionary in Europe at this time – and would be repeated with great success by William the Conqueror at Hastings. Charles never lost a battle in his entire military career after this brilliant start.
Over 717 and 718 Charles marched against Neustria and eventually regained his position as the mayor of Frankia. Afterwards he finally turned on Plectrude and Theudohald and captured them. Unusually for the times, he was merciful to the pair, who were allowed to live out the rest of their lives in comfort.
Charles II lived from 29 May 1630 to 6 February 1685. Legally, he became King of England, Scotland, and Ireland on 30 January 1649, the day his father, Charles I, was beheaded. In practice, he did not become undisputed King of England until 29 May 1660: while in Scotland he had been proclaimed King Charles II by the Scottish Parliament on 5 February 1649 and crowned on 1 January 1651. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Charles Stuart was born in St. James's Palace, London on 29 May 1630, and as the eldest surviving son of Charles I was made Prince of Wales and heir to the crowns held by his father. During the First Civil War the 12 year-old Charles Stuart accompanied his father at the Battle of Edgehill, and at the age of 15, took part in a number of the campaigns of 1645. Charles I was taken prisoner in 1646, and the following year Charles Stuart went to France for safety.
During the Second Civil War Charles Stuart was unable to reach the Scottish forces invading Northern England before their defeat by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Preston on 17–19 August 1648. Charles I was beheaded on 30 January 1649. On 5 February 1649 the Scottish Parliament proclaimed the 19 year-old Charles Stuart as Charles II: while the following month the English Parliament declared England to be a republic.
From March 1649, Charles was based in the Hague, where he began a series of negotiations with representatives of the Scottish Parliament about his return. In exchange for their support, the Scots wanted Charles to sign the Covenant, and to impose Presbyterianism in England, Wales and Ireland. Charles refused, instead attempting to regain control in Scotland by force. At his request, the Marquis of Montrose, who had brilliantly led the Royalist forces against the Covenanters in Scotland during the Civil War, landed in Orkney with 500 Scandinavian mercenaries, before moving on to Caithness, reinforced by Orcadian volunteers. However, on 27 April 1650 Montrose's forces lost to a much smaller Covenanter army at the Battle of Carbisdale, near Bonar Bridge. Montrose was subsequently executed in Edinburgh, in part because Charles denied to the Scots that he was behind Montrose's actions.
Left with little option, Charles II agreed the demands of the Scottish Covenanters and landed at Garmouth, in Moray, on 23 June 1650, signing the Covenant as he came ashore. In retaliation, Cromwell invaded Scotland on 22 July 1650, capturing much of the south of the country by the end of the year. On 1 January 1651, Charles II was crowned King of Scots at Scone. In July 1651, Charles II and the Scottish Covenanter army bypassed Cromwell's main forces in Scotland and headed south into England, reaching Worcester on 22 August. Charles had hoped that English Royalists would flock to his cause, but they did not, and on 3 September, Cromwell's much larger army inflicted a heavy defeat on the Royalists and Covenanters at Worcester. Charles II spent the next six weeks in hiding in England before escaping to France. The only up-side to this experience from Charles' point of view was that it relieved him from what he regarded as virtual imprisonment by the dour Scottish Covenanters, who he had grown to hate with a passion.
Unable to muster enough influence or money to persuade France, Holland or Spain to back his efforts to mount a campaign against Cromwell, Charles II, had little option but to wait out the next few years in exile, mostly in Holland. His one further attempt to gain power by force came in February 1654, when troops commanded by John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton, landed in Dornoch. This ended in complete failure when the attempted uprising was snuffed out by forces led by Cromwell's Military Governor in Scotland, General George Monck.
Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, but even after his son, Richard Cromwell, had resigned the post of Lord Protector in early 1659, the chances of Charles regaining (or gaining) the throne seemed slight. Help came from an unlikely quarter. General George Monck, still serving as Military Governor in Scotland, made contact with Charles using the architect Sir William Bruce as an intermediary.
On 1 January 1660, General Monck, led an army south from Coldstream in Scotland to London, and brought about elections that returned a largely Royalist Parliament, who he then persuaded to restore Charles II to the throne. Charles landed in Dover on 23 May 1660, to be greeted by Monck. He was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661.
Before the English Parliament had agreed to recall Charles II, they had sought from him guarantees that he would not persecute Cromwell's supporters on his return. He did not extend this to the Commissioners who had signed Charles I's death warrant, 31 of whom were still alive and 12 of whom were subsequently hung, drawn and quartered. Meanwhile, Cromwell's body was disinterred and subjected to a symbolic beheading. Once in power Charles also settled a number of scores with Covenanter leaders in Scotland.
Charles II's reign had a number of similarities with those of his father and grandfather. Throughout it he wrestled with Parliament over who could exercise real authority, and as a result was heavily constrained by Parliament's grip on state finances. Meanwhile he married a Portuguese Princess, Catherine of Braganza, in 1662. In the same year he sold England's last French possession, Calais, to his cousin, Louis XIV of France, for £40,000.
1665 saw London hit by the Bubonic Plague, with up to 7,000 people dying each week. And on 2 September 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out, destroying 13,200 houses and 87 churches, including St Paul's Cathedral (but possibly helping end the spread of the plague). A comet in the sky led many in England to blame their misfortunes on God's anger, caused, they believed, by the increasing tolerance of Catholics in Charles II's England.
Then, with supreme bad timing, Charles II's brother James, who remained heir to the throne, converted to Catholicism in 1667, a fact that was not made public until 1673. Although Charles fathered at least 14 illegitimate children by at least 7 different mothers, he and Catherine of Braganza were unable to produce a legitimate heir.
In 1670 Charles II signed the secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV. Under its terms, France and England allied against the Dutch. Among the most secret clauses were an agreement by Louis to pay Charles £200,000 per year to allow him some financial independence from the English Parliament an agreement that France would help England return to Catholicism and an agreement that Charles would himself convert to Catholicism "as soon as the welfare of his realm will permit." Partly as a result, the 1670s were marked by a series of disputes between Charles and the English Parliament over his foreign policies, and over his efforts to suspend laws punishing Roman Catholics and other religious dissenters.
In 1678 a retired Anglican cleric called Titus Oates falsely claimed to have uncovered a French-inspired plot to replace Charles II with his Catholic brother James. A wave of anti-Catholic hysteria swept England, doing little to help Charles further the secret agenda he had agreed in the Treaty of Dover. Still worse, the English Parliament resolved to pursue the Exclusion Bill, which would remove the Catholic James from the line of succession: with some wanting to replace him as heir to the throne with the the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, the eldest of Charles's illegitimate children. Each time the Exclusion Bill came up for debate, Charles dissolved Parliament, doing so in 1679, 1680, and 1681. Thereafter he dispensed with Parliament altogether, ruling as an absolute monarch on the back of a groundswell of public support, ignorant of his secret deal with Louis XIV of France. Public support for Charles (and to a lesser extend James) grew further after the failed Rye House Plot of 1683, a Protestant plan to assassinate both of them on their way back to London from the races at Newmarket.
Charles died on 6 February 1685 at the age of 55 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. On his deathbed he secretly converted to Catholicism. He was succeeded by his brother, James, the Duke of York, who became James II of England and Ireland, and James VII of Scotland.