Charles II of England Facts & Worksheets

Charles II of England facts and information plus worksheet packs and fact file. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 years old (GCSE). Great for home study or to use within the classroom environment.

Charles II of England Worksheets

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    • Early Life
    • Restoration and Coronation
    • Reign of Charles II of England
    • Later Years and Death

    Key Facts And Information

    Let’s find out more about Charles II of England!

    Charles II of England

    Before becoming king of England and Ireland after the Restoration in 1660, Charles II of England reigned over Scotland from 1649 until 1685. Charming and humble, Charles was a king with a passion for the arts, sciences, and sports. His reign was undoubtedly eventful, with the conquest of New York and the Great Fire of London. Charles' spectacular coronation, which included the new British Crown Jewels, triumphantly brought the monarchy back to the pinnacle of British politics and society.


    • James VI of Scotland was given the opportunity to take over as James I of England after Elizabeth I of England passed away in 1603 without leaving a heir. James was the first Stuart king, and his son Charles I of England followed him. The English Civil Wars and Charles' death on 30 January 1649 were the results of his conflicts with Parliament over religion, money, and the authority of the monarchy.
    • The firstborn child of Charles I, also named as Charles, was born at London's St. James' Palace on 29 May 1630. 
    • His mother was Louis XIII of France's younger sister, Queen Henrietta Maria. 
    • Charles was raised mostly at Richmond House, where he excelled in horseback riding. Charles and his mother were sent to safety in France after his father was defeated at the Battle of Naseby in 1645. 
    • In contrast to his father's very strict personality, Charles seems to have been the complete opposite. 
    • The younger Charles was charming, humorous, and laid-back, and his passion for romantic encounters began with Lucy Walter, who gave birth to James Scott, who would grow up to become the Duke of Monmouth, the first of many illegitimate children.

      Infant Charles II
    • Following Charles I's execution, the monarchy was destroyed in England, but Scotland was given the freedom to choose its own path. Charles' eldest son was proclaimed the king of Scotland as Charles II in February 1649 (formally crowned on New Year's Day 1651 at Scone). The Third English Civil War, also known as the Anglo-Scottish War, started when pro-royalists united around Charles as their leader. The Scots had changed their support because they now saw Charles as their best chance to prevent the Puritan-dominated Parliament from undermining the independence of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland and support it in England. As it turned out, Charles himself had absolutely no interest in Presbyterianism, which he saw as a faith unsuited to gentlemen.
    • Oliver Cromwell led the New Model Army of Parliament into Scotland in 1650 to convince the Scots that there was no chance of the monarchy being restored south of the border. At the Battle of Dunbar in September 1650, the two armies engaged in combat resulting in another devastating triumph for Cromwell. At the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, the remaining Scottish and English Royalist troops came together for one final confrontation with Cromwell. 
    • The English Civil Wars came to a close as the Parliamentarians triumphed once more. Charles had to go to France, but it wasn't simple to get away from the Worcester battlefield. Before he could flee to the coast and then abroad while pretending to be a servant, the Scottish monarch had to first spend a day hiding under an oak tree close to Boscobel House in Shropshire. The popular English pub name, ‘The Royal Oak’, derives from this escapade. The monarch without a throne moved to the Netherlands, nearly broke.


    • Oliver Cromwell was in charge of the military state known as the "Commonwealth" Republic after being appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland in December 1653. Many people yearned for the balance and heritage of the previous monarchy as a result of Cromwell's authoritarian leadership and the adoption of Puritanism. In 1658, when Cromwell passed away, his republic also did. Although Richard Cromwell was the successor Cromwell had chosen, he was not well-liked by others. The monarchy was reinstated on May 8th with the assistance of Parliament following a march on London in 1660 supported by a Scottish army under the command of General George Monck. 
    • Charles' guarantee of a free Parliament and religious tolerance, as articulated in the Treaty of Breda of April 4, helped to explain why there was surprisingly little political commotion. Charles was brought to London on 29 May, his 30th birthday, where he was welcomed by jubilant crowds and streets decorated in tapestries and flowers. Church bells rung, and trumpets boomed. The monarchy had returned. The day after Charles fled following the civil war, the 29th of May was designated a public holiday by Parliament and later became known as Oak Apple Day.

      Coronation of Charles II
    • All of Cromwell's Acts of Parliament were repealed in 1660, and the New Model Army of Parliament was abolished. 
    • Charles was recognised as a saint by the Anglican Church and named a martyr by Parliament in the same year. Cromwell, a Puritan, was treated very differently. 
    • In order to punish Cromwell as though he had been executed as a traitor, the vengeful monarch had his remains unearthed from Westminster Abbey in 1661. 
    • The corpse was hung and decapitated, and the bones were displayed in front of the people. Although there were a few executions of live people, Charles was typically ready to pardon and forget the transgressions of the fathers.
    • Nonetheless, there were still a lot of unresolved scars both inside and outside the Anglican Church, and there was little hint of reconciliation between the opposing Catholics, Puritan groups, and moderate Protestants. Charles supported a lenient approach to Catholicism, but Parliament, on which he depended for money, adopted the other stance. As so many times before the English Reformation, rumours of Catholic and 'Popish' schemes abounded, especially one in 1678 propounded by the fantasist Titus Oates, which he believed plotted to kill the monarch. 
    • Although there was little support for these conspiracy beliefs, a wave of Catholic persecution in one form or another did still occur as a result. There was one true regicidal conspiracy, the 1683 Rye House Plot, but it came to nothing. Through Charles' whole reign, the religious conflict would simmer until exploding under his successor.
    • The Sovereign's Orb, a hollow gold orb adorned with pearls, precious stones, and a huge amethyst under the cross, was crafted for Charles and represents the Christian monarch's dominance of the secular world. 
    • Since then, every British king or queen has held the orb in their left hand when they were crowned. 
    • Nearly like their predecessors, the new jewels perished. In 1671, a criminal by the name of "Colonel" Thomas Blood attempted to steal the regalia from the Tower of London by dressing as a priest. 
    • Charles, who was pleased by the plot's boldness, pardoned Blood after learning of it, demonstrating the king's tolerance for bold plans, whether they were scientific or illegal.


    • Charles married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese monarch's daughter, on 21 May 1662. The couple had 3 kids, but all died in infancy. Charles kept a lot of mistresses. The monarch had 16 illegitimate offspring with these women, who also included a duchess, an actress, a prostitute, and a spy. Following their recent independence from Spain, the Portuguese were eager to create an alliance with England, which is why Charles was given the moniker "Old Rowley" after his favourite horse in the royal stud. As part of her enormous dowry, Catherine brought a large quantity of money and granted England sovereignty over the former Portuguese Empire assets of Tangiers and Bombay.
    • Over the Atlantic, there were some important events as well. Charles gave eight noblemen the estates of "Carolina" in North America on 24 March 1663. John Locke, a philosopher, drafted the colony's constitution. The colony of Rhode Island received a royal charter on 8 July 1663. The port of New Amsterdam on the east coast of America, once a significant centre of the fur trade, was seized by British privateers in 1665 from the Netherlands. 
    • When the Dutch formally surrendered it in the 1667 Treaty of Breda, it was renamed New York. The British surrendered Suriname in South America to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam. In return for Penn's father paying off the king's debt to him, the monarch gave the Quaker businessman William Penn the area of Pennsylvania in 1681. All of these efforts solidified Britain's hold over North America's eastern shore. 
    • Three wars with the Netherlands resulted from struggle in Europe for control of world commerce. 
    • After a strong start, things didn't go well, and the Royal Navy suffered a humiliating defeat at Medway in June 1666. Charles and Louis XIV of France signed the Treaty of Dover in 1670, creating an alliance against the Netherlands. 
    • A secret part of this pact guaranteed that Charles would advance Catholicism in England and, if necessary, deploy French military assistance. 
    • Although it is questionable if the monarch ever meant to fulfill this promise—it never surfaced, regular financial transfers were usually useful and allowed the king to avoid convening Parliament more often than was strictly required. In 1678 and 1681, he reiterated his agreements with Louis. 
    • In addition to Charles' purse acquiring weight, there were also other effects of the agreements. In 1672, Charles was compelled to lend military aid for Louis XIV's campaign on the Netherlands, but a disappointing naval draw off Southwold in June was followed by setbacks on land such that the war was abandoned by 1674.


    • Charles, the "Merry Monarch," was well-known for living it up at his luxurious court and participating in a wide range of sports when he was back in England in the 1660s (he rode winners at Newmarket horse races and celebrated his Scottish coronation with a round of golf). He enjoyed taking leisurely strolls in his lovely gardens while being pursued by his bothersome spaniels. While the king might have been able to evade reality aboard his aptly titled boat ‘The Royal Escape’, there were some major calamities for everybody else. 
    • There was another catastrophic outbreak of the Black Death virus in the unusually hot summer of 1665. 
    • The Great Fire of London occurred in 1666. This catastrophic blaze originated in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane, not far from London Bridge on 2 September.

      Great fire of London in 1666
    • It swiftly spread through the small lanes to devour a vast swathe of London, then primarily built of wooden structures. The monarch personally oversaw portions of the firefighting actions, which continued on for four days. 
    • One of the buildings that was destroyed was Saint Paul's Cathedral; the extreme heat from the fire melted the lead on its roof and sent it gushing down the neighbouring streets. 
    • Miraculously, fewer than 10 individuals died in the fire, which destroyed 87 churches and 13,000 other buildings. 
    • It was believed that a reconstruction effort supported by a tax on coal imports may rid London of many of its narrow streets, but landlords were hesitant to diminish their chances for rentals, and so only a limited fraction of the programme came to completion.
    • The enlightenment of literature at least shone bright amidst the destruction. John Bunyan's wildly renowned Christian allegory Pilgrim's Progress and John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost were both published during Charles' reign. Theatre, especially comic plays, was another radiant component of a flowering artistic scene that blossomed up following the restrictions enforced by the Puritans during Cromwell's rule. Such was the abundance of new works, the word 'Restoration theatre' was coined.
    • The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was established during this time period (1675), a reflection of the king's considerable interest in science and technology (he had his own laboratory in Whitehall Palace). He had granted a royal charter to the scientific organisation that would later be known as the Royal Society in April 1662; Sir Isaac Newton was a notable member of this organisation.
    • At the age of 54, Charles passed away at London's Whitehall Palace four days after having a stroke. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. The Duke of Monmouth's younger brother James succeeded him since he had no legitimate heir and despite his effort to oust him in July 1685.
    • Because James II of England was a well-known proponent of Catholicism, many people, known as the "Whigs", wanted to prevent him from succeeding his brother as king. James was in fact officially removed from the succession by Parliament in 1679, but Charles had him reinstalled. The 'Tory' MPs were content enough to preserve the Stuart royal dynasty continuing along its natural path despite the divisions in the country and disagreements over who should rule if James were to abdicate. 
    • It turned out that when James finally had his opportunity, he barely held power for three years until his pro-Catholic policies led to his overthrow during the Glorious Revolution of November 1688. William of Orange, who later became King William III of England, was the next monarch and a Protestant. The Stuarts therefore remained to rule Britain until 1714, when they were succeeded by the House of Hanover. He reigned in tandem with his queen, Mary II of England, who was the daughter of James II.