The Children of Charles I: Guest Post by Eileen Oleary

I met today’s guest blogger on Twitter as we both love the 17th-century. I have asked Eileen if she would write a post about a topic from that era that she has long been fascinated by – and she graciously accepted. She has such great insight into Charles I’s time, that I’m very happy to have her contribute here. So, please give a very warm welcome to Eileen Oleary with her first post on The Seventeenth Century Lady!
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Five Children of King Charles I after Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Five Children of King Charles I after Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

The subject of King Charles I’s children came up in a conversation, and I thought it would be of interest to discuss each one briefly. King Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria produced nine children. (There is a rumor that before his marriage, Charles may have had a liaison with the Duchess of Lennox, which produced a daughter named Joanna Bridges.)

Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria. Coques, Gonzales. Image:  © V&A Images

Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria.
Coques, Gonzales. Image: © V&A Images

The Children of
King Charles I (1600 – 1649) & Queen Henrietta Maria  (1609 – 1669)

Charles  (1629)
Charles II  (1630 – 1685)
Mary, Princess Royal & Princess of Orange  (1631 – 1660)
James VII & II  (1633 – 1701)
Elizabeth  (1635 – 1650)
Anne  (1637 – 1640)
Katharine  (1639)
Henry, 1st Duke of Gloucester  (1640 – 1660)
Henrietta Anne “Minette”  Madame, duchesse d’Orleans  (1644 – 1670)

King Charles I; Henrietta Maria; and their two eldest children, King Charles II and Mary, Princess of Orange after Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Three of Charles and Henrietta’s children died quite young; the first born was named Charles, who died shortly after his birth.  Charles I was so concerned with the health of his wife during this premature birth, that he had begged the doctor to:

” save the mould rather than the cast”.

Another child who died right after birth was Katharine.  Anne was only four years old when she died, but apparently was developing such a wonderful little personality, that her death caused the entire family deep sorrow.

The Three Eldest Children of King Charles I; King Charles II, Mary, Princess of Orange and King James II. By Sir Robert Strange, after Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

The Three Eldest Children of King Charles I; King Charles II, Mary, Princess of Orange and King James II. By Sir Robert Strange, after Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

The three oldest of the children were Charles, Mary and James.  The name Charles was used again for this second son.  His mother described him as dark and ugly, and in his later life, Charles himself said much the same with the words, “Odds fish, I am an ugly fellow!”

King Charles II by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

King Charles II by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Mary was known as the Princess Royal, which came from a similar title used at the French court.  She was also the mother of William III.

Mary, Princess of Orange by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Mary, Princess of Orange
by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

James was quite a contrast to his brother Charles, fair and handsome.  But whereas his older brother’s wit and personality kept him on the throne, James ended up getting forced off the throne by his daughter Mary and her husband/cousin, the aforementioned William III.

King James II by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

King James II by Cornelius Johnson. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

We now come to the last three of the nine, Elizabeth, Henry and Henrietta Anne (Minette).  Elizabeth and Henry were held captive by the Parliamentarians during the civil war.  Elizabeth was a very intelligent young lady, but always in poor health.  She was only 14 years old when she died a prisoner at Carisbrooke Castle, and two days before a letter arrived from Parliament saying she and her brother “Harry” could leave and join their family on the continent.

Princess Elizabeth after Unknown artist etching, mid 17th century. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Henry survived imprisonment to join his remaining family members.  There was an unfortunate argument with his mother over religion, and the two never spoke to each other again.

Henry, Duke of Gloucester, possibly by Robert Streater. Line engraving, mid 17th century. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

We will end this on a lighter note with a funny story concerning the baby of the family, Henrietta Anne, known better perhaps by her pet name of Minette,  which had been bestowed on her by her brother Charles.  Born in the turmoil of the civil war, her mother had to escape to France without her.  She was put into the custody of one very brave woman, Lady Dalkeith.  After two years of constant turmoil and house arrest, the time had come to smuggle the child out of the country.  The Princess was disguised as a boy, but did not help matters when she complained constantly about the clothes she was forced to wear and that she was a ROYAL PRINCESS!

Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans by Sir Peter Lely. Image: National Portrait Gallery, London.

Of course this short narrative does not even begin to tell the incredible stories of these Stuart siblings, but I hope it has provided some entertainment for the readers of this blog!  Thanks Andrea!
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Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 22.27.11Eileen Oleary loves History, especially 17th Century English History, and is particularly knowledgeable about the tumultuous reign of King Charles I and the English Civil Wars.

She is on Twitter @GallantMontrose

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Hear ye! 3 thoughts — so far — on “The Children of Charles I: Guest Post by Eileen Oleary”:

  1. Pingback: The Children of Charles I | History's Untold Treasures

  2. Sarah

    I have read Princess Elizabeth’s account of her last meeting with her father, right before his execution, and it is one of the saddest things I have ever read.

    Reply

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