Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland

By Ronald Hutton | Go to book overview

2 The Exiled Prince of Wales

THERE can be few more delicious places in Britain than the Isles of Scilly in spring, where a silver-threaded sea rolls on to beaches of pure white sand and the rocks and scrub inland are full of migrating songbirds. On the other hand, there can also be days when a wet gale blows off the Atlantic and renders an existence upon the Isles wretched: and this latter experience befell Charles and his companions. So powerful was the sou'wester that no ship could approach from the mainland for five weeks, and having sent to France and Ireland for food and soldiers, the Prince's company settled down to wait upon events. The busiest was probably Hyde, who had commenced work upon a great history of the Civil War designed to vindicate himself, his friends, and his monarch at the expense of Goring, Grenville, Parliament, and the truth. The least happy were probably some courtiers who were put up in a shack hung with drying fish and woke up to find the spring tide in bed with them. 1

When the wind dropped, on 10 April, there arrived not only Hopton, having supervised the surrender of the western army, but a trumpeter with an invitation from Parliament for the Prince's own capitulation. The next day, to prove the point, Charles found his island surrounded by a parliamentarian fleet. The amazing personal luck which was to attend him most of his life now intervened, for a storm rose and drove the enemy away. Virtually all his Council were now agreed that it was imperative to leave for a stronger and more remote royalist sanctuary, and the obvious one accessible from the Scillies was Jersey. On the 16th the group of refugees re-embarked, and arrived off their new destination the following evening. Charles enjoyed this voyage immensely, being permitted to steer his ship for two hours at a stretch. 2

Jersey was in every way a more desirable residence, being better fortified, better supplied, firmly governed for the King by Sir George Carteret, and close to the French coast in case of disaster. Its principal stronghold, Elizabeth Castle, made an imposing base for the Prince and his Council, while their followers were quartered in comfortable town houses. It is larger than any of the Scilly Isles and even more beautiful,

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Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xiv
  • I - Boyhood 1
  • 2 - The Exiled Prince of Wales 15
  • 3 - A King in Search of a Realm, 1649-1650 34
  • 5 - A King in Search of Quarters, 1651-1656 71
  • 6 - The Pensioner of Spain, 1656-1660 100
  • 7 - The Year of Restoration, 1660-1661 133
  • 8 - The Fight for the Settlements, 1661-1664 166
  • 10 - The Ministry of Arlington, 1688-1672 254
  • 11 - Charles's Second Dutch War, 1672-1674 287
  • 12 - The End of King Louis's War, 1674-1678 320
  • 13 - Collapse of a System, 1678-1679 357
  • 14 - The Quest for Men and Measures, 1679-1681 381
  • 15 - Towards a New Way of Ruling, 1681-1685 404
  • 16 - Conclusion: Monarch in a Masquerade 446
  • References 459
  • Notes 461
  • Index 543
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