Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TODAY IN CHARLESTON HISTORY, 1660: Restoration of the English Throne

May 24: 1660: Under invitation by leaders of the English Commonwealth, Charles II, the exiled king of England, lands at Dover, England, to assume the throne, ending 11 years of military rule.

The Prince of Wales at the time of the English Civil War, Charles fled to France after Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians defeated his father, King Charles I in 1646. In 1649, Charles vainly attempted to save his father's life by presenting Parliament a signed blank sheet of paper, thereby granting whatever terms were required. However, the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, was determined to execute Charles I, and on January 30, 1649, the king was beheaded in London.

After his father's death, Charles was proclaimed king of England by the Scots and by supporters in parts of Ireland and England, and he traveled to Scotland to raise an army. In 1651, Charles invaded England but was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. Charles escaped to France and later lived in exile in Germany and then in the Spanish Netherlands. During Cromwell's rule, the Puritan faction of the English government outlawed anything remotely fun! Taverns, theaters and brothels were closed. Public whistling was banned because we all know that whistling means you're happy, and if you're happy you're having fun, and if you're having fun you must be committing a sin - so you're going straight to hell. It was NOT jolly ole England. After Cromwell's death in 1658, the English Puritan republican experiment faltered.

In 1660, in what is known as the English Restoration, General George Monck met with Charles and arranged to restore him in exchange for a promise of amnesty and religious toleration for his former enemies. On May 25, 1660, Charles landed at Dover and four days later entered London in triumph. It was his 30th birthday, and London rejoiced at his arrival. In the first year of the Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason and his body disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey, beheaded and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn. It was referred to as the "twice dead body of Cromwell."

Charles II went on to become known as the Merry Monarch, leadingEngland into the era of Eat, Drink and be Merry. He became legendary for his sexual prowess and debauchery. He died in 1685 after fathering more than 30 bastard children, but no legitimate heir to the English throne, which passed to his brother, James II.

Princess Diana was a direct descendant of one of Charles II's illegitimate heirs. When her son, Prince William, becomes the King of England sometime in the future, he will be the first direct heir of Charles II to sit on the throne. Below is a photo taken during the celebration of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding, proving, beyond a doubt, that William is most definitely a direct heir of the Merry Monarch.

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