Following the very sad passing of Queen Elizabeth the Second in September 2022, the country has entered into a new era with King Charles the Third now sitting at the regal helm. The change is and will continue to be monumental for a population, of which the clear majority will have only known one monarch on the throne all their lives.
So, as Prince Charles becomes King Charles III and takes his place in history, the nation waits to see what he will do during his reign. Not to mention whether it will be as eventful as that of his Caroline and Carolean predecessors, King Charles I of England and King Charles II of England.
Charles I King of England
The first monarch to reign under the name of Charles is perhaps most famous for his unfortunate end, when he was executed by beheading in 1649. Charles the First of England was born in Scotland. He moved to England with his family when he was three years old, but was a sickly child who spoke with a stammer. Nevertheless, he survived into adulthood and became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. His Coronation took place in 1626 in Westminster Abbey
Related Medallion: 1626 Coronation of Charles I
Charles I married Henrietta Marie of France in 1625. Unusually, however, he was not present, choosing to send a proxy to stand in for him at the ceremony in Paris. He met his wife a few months later and enjoyed a mostly happy marriage, fathering ten children with her. His eldest son was destined to become Charles II, while his eldest daughter, Mary was the first female child of a monarch to be named Princess Royal.
Charles I had a tempestuous relationship with his Parliament, dissolving it in 1629 to try and avoid a costly war with Spain and France. He ruled England alone during a period known as the Eleven Years’ Tyranny until 1640, when he recalled Parliament. However, the damage had been done. Forces led by Oliver Cromwell sought to oust him as king and waged what became known as the Civil War against him. For Charles I, Civil War ended very badly for him and he was defeated, tried for treason and beheaded in 1649.
Related Medallion: 1649 Death of Charles I
Charles II King of England
The second Charles to sit on the throne was Charles I’s eldest son of the same name. His reign began in 1660 and heralded the start of the Restoration period of history when England became a Monarchy once more.
Related Medallion: 1660 Charles II Restoration
Charles II’s Coronation as King of England took place in Westminster Abbey, like his father before him, in 1661.
Related Medallion: 1661 Charles II Coronation
This all happened after the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 and a brief, subsequent, but unsuccessful tenure of Cromwell’s son, Richard.
Charles II was welcomed back to the throne by his people, who had grown weary of Cromwell’s Puritanical stance. Charles II became known as the Merry monarch, bringing back many of the enjoyable things that had been banned by Cromwell, such as dancing, theatre and even celebrating Christmas. His reign saw many tumultuous events happen to the English people, including the Plague in 1665, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and war between England and Holland between 1665 and 1667.
Other Charles II of England facts include his marriage to Catherine of Braganza in 1662.
Related Medallion: 1662 Charles II & Catherine Medal - Marriage (Golden Medal)
She was a Portuguese Infanta and her marriage dowry included sugar, plate and jewels to the value of 400,000 crowns, as well as bills of exchange and various free trade rights with Brazil and the East Indies. The couple never had children, but King Charles the Second was said to have fathered more than 12 illegitimate children through a number of affairs. He reigned until his death in 1685.
Bonnie Prince Charlie
While our current King is only the third Charles to sit on the throne of England, there was another Prince Charles who made a famous attempt to take power, following the arrival of England’s first Hanoverian king, George I. This Prince Charles is better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie and his story has been immortalised in the hauntingly beautiful Skye Boat Song. Bonnie Prince Charlie believed that the British throne was his birth-right. His full name was Charles Edward Stuart, and his grandfather was the Catholic James II of England (also the younger brother of Charles II).
James II had been deposed in 1688 in favour of his Protestant daughter, Mary II, who ruled jointly with her husband, William of Orange. Queen Anne succeeded Mary and William as monarch, followed by the country’s first Hanoverian ruler, George I. In 1715, the first Jacobite rebellion took place to try and overthrow George I, who made no attempt to learn English and spent a lot of time abroad, and replace him with James II. This unsuccessful attempt was led by James II’s son, James Francis Edward Stuart, also known as the ‘Old Pretender’.
Thirty years later, it was Bonnie Prince Charlie– the Old Pretender’s eldest son – who led another Jacobite rebellion in 1745, with the support of his brother, Prince Henry.
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Despite a successful campaign in Scotland and recapturing Carlisle for his cause, Bonnie Prince Charlie did not manage to capture London and reclaim the throne. He made his final stand in 1746 and evaded capture by fleeing into the Scottish Highlands (as related in the Skye Boat Song). He died in Rome in 1788.
Charles III King of England
So, Britain awaits the Coronation of its third King Charles, scheduled to take place in May 2023. Along with his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, King Charles III will be crowned in Westminster Abbey with all due pomp and ceremony. His Coronation will come less than a year after the Platinum Jubilee celebrations that happened in the summer of 2022, marking the reign of his late mother as the longest enjoyed by a British monarch. Her 70- years on the throne surpassed the 63-year-long tenure held by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
There have been several medals and medallions produced to mark various important events and dates in the reigns of King Charles I, King Charles II and the attempted rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie. In time, new designs will be struck to mark the significant dates and actions of our current king, Charles the Third. Not to mention new stamps, money, post boxes, insignia and other signs that the British monarchy continues to endure, even while ‘under new management’
For more information, or to browse our extensive collection of British royal medallions, coins and coronation medals, please visit our website to see the stunning sets and individual pieces available to purchase.