King Charles II in Colonial New England
Charles II (1630-1685) was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1660-85. At sixteen he was forced to flee to France during the English Civil War. He stayed with his mother and was tutored by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, whose political philosophy embraced the absolute power of kings. In 1649, Charles tried to save the life of his father, King Charles I, by giving Parliament his signature on a blank sheet of paper, implicitly giving them the ability to name their terms. His father was executed nonetheless that same year. Charles was then proclaimed king in Scotland, where he relocated and pledged to enforce Presbyterianism in England. In 1660 Gen. George Monck arranged for Charles's Restoration to the English throne. He favored religious toleration, in no small part because he tended towards Roman Catholicism. His relations with Parliament deteriorated until he dissolved the legislative body in 1681 and proceeded to rule as an absolute monarch. Charles died a Roman Catholic and was succeeded by his brother James, as Charles had several children with a string of mistresses, but produced no legitimate heirs to the throne.