Born May 29, 1630, Charles was the second son of King Charles I of England, and the oldest surviving son at the time of his father's execution. Charles assumed his father's title and tried to take the crown by force, but he was defeated by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and fled to the continent. There, he spent the next eight years in exile until Cromwell's death and Richard Cromwell's resignation.
The monarch then returned to England, where Royalist supporters (led by General George Monck) forced the Rump Parliament to dissolve and placed Charles on the English throne in 1660. Robert C. Black, III, writes, "Charles II entered London among unprecedented demonstrations of loyalty" (199).
Charles' extravagance left him always in need of money, and this need led him to such acts as marriage with a Portuguese princess with a substantial dowry and a secret alliance with France. The latter put England at war with the Dutch, a confrontation that resulted in England's acquisition of the North American territory of New Amsterdam, afterward called New York.
Charles reasserted the primacy of the Church of English and persecuted Nonconformists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and others who openly opposed the official church by worshipping openly and writing against Anglican beliefs. His punishments led many prominent members of these sects to seek the religious freedom that life in the American colonies represented.
Charles II died in 1685. His reign reestablished the monarchy and deeply affected the colonization of the New World.
George Monck was born in 1609. He began his career during the Thirty Years' War. During the English Revolution, he fought on the side of Charles I but was captured and imprisoned. He managed to convince Parliament of his loyalty to Cromwell and was released to serve as governor of Ulster in Ireland. From there, he went to Scotland to serve Cromwell and eventually worked his way up through the military t...