According to the great diarist, John Evelyn, Charles II was ‘addicted to women’, and throughout his long reign a great many succumbed to his charms. Clever, urbane and handsome, Charles presided over a hedonistic court, in which licence and licentiousness prevailed. Mistresses is the story of the women who shared Charles’s bed, each of whom wielded […]
Linda Porter, author of Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II, writes about Hortense Mancini, the beautiful but unconventional niece of Cardinal Mazarin who became the king’s last mistress. Everyone knows that Charles II was an amorous king. The Restoration court was renowned for glamorous women parading their charms in the latest […]
Author Andrew Taylor writes for Historia about the King’s Evil and the royal ritual surrounding this disease.
For National Tea Day, Isabel Stilwell investigates the story of Catherine of Braganza, the queen who popularised Britain’s favourite drink. In 1777 a Frenchman came to Portugal as a spy, and to prove his point that the country was utterly under British influence, he wrote: “The Portuguese copy the English to such an extent, that they […]
On May 9, 1671, at a little before 7am on a chilly spring morning, a tall, handsome, middle-aged man calling himself Thomas Ayliffe, and dressed in the severe black gown and square white collar of a humble country parson, presented himself at the door of the Irish Tower in the northeast corner of the Tower of London. He […]
Linda Porter on why she’s happy to leave the sixteenth century behind. Last year I appeared in two programmes in the Channel Five ‘Last Days’ series, talking about Mary Queen of Scots and Charles I. Much of my contribution on Mary was eventually edited out because it did not fit the overall ‘well, she was […]
Poor old Charles II. These days he’s playing second fiddle to almost everything. If it’s not last week’s 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, it’s Gemma Arterton’s recent portrayal of his famous mistress Nell Gwynn. Jasper Britton brings our most debauched monarch wonderfully to life in Stephen Jeffrey’s The Libertine, but poor Charlie […]
During the horrific, botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth, in 1685, the crowd remained silent and ‘many cried’, until, incensed by the ‘barbarous usage’ of the duke, they surged forward and would have torn the executioner to pieces had soldiers not prevented it. Yet the label on Monmouth’s portrait in the National Gallery reads: […]