Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Saturday, May 29, 2010
Susan reports:

We here at the TNHG don't usually post on Saturdays, but this particular Saturday seemed too historically momentous to let pass by unnoticed.

May 29th is not only the 350th anniversary of the return of King Charles II (1630-1685) to London after his lengthy exile, but also his 380th birthday. I've written five historical novels in which Charles has featured prominently, and after those 600,000 or so words between us, I do feel I owe him the very best wishes for the day.

But I'll leave it to writer and diarist John Evelyn (1620-1707), who witnessed Charles's return to London, to describe the day and the jubilant welcome the king received:

"This day, His Majesty, Charles II, came to London, after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the King and the Church, being seventeen years. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph of above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords, and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strewn with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the Mayor, Aldermen, and all the companies, in their liveries, chains of gold, and banners; Lords and Nobles, clad in cloth of silver, gold, and velvet; the windows and balconies, all set with ladies; trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the city, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.

"I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God. And all this was done without one drop of blood shed, and by that very army which rebelled against him: but it was the Lord's doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history, ancient or modern, since the return of the Jews from their Babylonish captivity; nor so joyful a day and so bright ever seen in this nation, this happening when to expect or effect it was past all human policy....The eagerness of men, women, and children, to see His Majesty, and kiss his hand, was so great, that he had scarce leisure to eat for some days, coming as they did from all parts of the nation; and the King being as willing to give them satisfaction, would have none kept out, but gave free access to all sorts of people."

From the Diary of John Evelyn, which has recently (finally!) become available for on-line reading here.


Jenny said...

Happy birthday, Charles Stuart!
Susan, you made the king into such a warm & believable character in your books, I'm not surprised that he feels like an old friend to you. I bet that most women reading your mistress-books feel that way about him (or more!)
I hope this means he's appearing in your new book, too? Please?

Marg said...

Wonder how Charles would celebrate, and which of his legion of women would be by his side!

Happy birthday to Charles Stuart!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Jenny, yes, Charles is in the new book. There's more of his brother James, of course, but Charles had a way of making his presence known. *g*

Marg, I wouldn't even begin to guess. Legend says that Barbara Palmer (later Duchess of Cleveland) helped him celebrate the night of his coronation, and even on the last night before he was stricken with the illness that would kill him, he was surrounded by Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Keroualle, and Hortense Mancini. So yes, definitely one lively birthday party!

Robert said...

The last line of Evelyn's quotation (that the King "would have none kept out, but gave free access to all sorts of people.") is most telling about Charles. He was that rarest of kings: one that actually learned from his predecessor's mistakes. He saw the terrible results of his father's aloof distance from his people. Instead he made the conscious (and rare, in this Baroque Age of Absolutism) decision to embrace the people he ruled. He continued to be accessible like this his entire reign, always available to his subjects, and could be found each day walking in the public park like any ordinary Englishman. Not a perfect king, perhaps, but after his manner quite a successful one, and a decent man, too. Happy birthday to him, and may he rest in eternal and well-earned peace.

Always Trista said...

Just stumbled over your blog, how cool! I love your books, and because of them, of course I now love that Charles, too. I'm really looking forward to the new story. Your 'teaser' was the perfect tease, and now I want more!


Jolene said...

It never surprised me that Charles was a Gemini, given his people skills, agile mind and of course, flirtatious nature... but I wonder if anyone knows of a reputable astrologist of modern day who had done his full natal chart? I would be most interested.(Given the eclectic company he kept, he had no doubt been given contemporary assessment of his fortune in the stars!).

Emma J said...

Wow, I'd sure like to be at that birthday party, plenty of wine and fireworks on the roof of the palace, right?

*********Happy Birthday King Charles!**********

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Robert -- As you noted, Charles wasn't perfect, either as a man or a king, but he did leave England in much better shape than when he inherited it, and his people were sincerely bereft at his death. Again, as you said, few other (maybe no other) Baroque rulers could make that claim!

Trista -- Many thanks for the kind words! I'll be writing blogs about the people, places, and events that feature in "The Countess & the King", scattered throughout the summer, so please keep stopping by the TNHG.

Jolene-- Loretta and I have long appreciated Charles's Gemini nature, being both Geminis ourselves. As for his natal chart and horoscope - the one drawn up at his birth predicted all sorts of suitably noble things, as befit any royal prince, but somehow missed out on that decade in exile. As for having his charts read later in life - Charles was very outspoken against astrology and other "wizardry", and only on the rarest occasions would he tolerate it. Others, however, did not share his disbelief; in the 17th c., it was a treasonable offense to cast the king's horoscope, from the fear that anyone who knew the royal future might use the information for personal or political gain.

Emma J -- Yep, Charles and his courtiers definitely knew how to party. He wasn't called the Merrie Monarch for nothing! Some say his reign was one continuous party, making up for the grim Puritan times under Cromwell, and after reading all the descriptions of all the parties, balls, masques, celebrations, fetes, and fairs that did take place, one wonders how there was time left for any actually ruling....:)

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