British Royalty: Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch (1649-1685)

Figure 1.-- The equestrian portrait here shows monmouth fighting at Maastrict (in Holland) during 1673. He would have been about 24 years old.

Charles had no legitimate children with his wife Catherine of Braganza. He did, however, have many mistresses and illegitimate children. The first was James Scott who after the Restoration was appointed Duke of Monmouth. Charles had great affection for the boy and arranged fir his care. James ubfortunately had none of the political skills of his father and this eventually led to his execution.

Father: Charles II

King Charles II 2 years after the Restoration married the Catholic Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza on May 20, 1662. It is believed that her large dowry was a major factor in the choice. As the marriage was barren, his younger brother who openly expoused Catholocism was the heir apparent. Charles did have illlegitimate childern, quite a number of them with various mistresses. The best known was his first child--James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch (1649-1685).

Mother: Lucy Walter (about 1630-58)

James Crofts Scott's mother was Lucy Walter, sometimes referred to as Lucy Barlow. Her father was Richard Water of Haverfordwest. Apparently Lucy fled England with Charles after the defeat of the Loyalist armies in the Civil War. Thus herv son James was born in exile. Lucy may also have had a daughter Mary with Charles, but there is considerable disagreement on this.

Duke of Monmouth

James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch (1649-1685), was the illegitimate son of Charles II by Lucy Walter. The king arranged his son's upbringing by placing him in the care of Lord Crofts. In 1663, after Charles had been restored to his throne in England, he created his son Duke of Monmouth. Not long afterward Scott married the wealthy heiress Ann, Countess of Buccleuch, and took the title of Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, joining his wife's title to his own. Lacking political skills, Scott allowed himself to be manipulated by others in various court intrigues. He also lived a somewhat dissolute life in the notoriously lubricious court of his father (the king) who tended to indulge his son's indiscretions because of his fondness for the boy. Getting himself involved in the Rye House Plot, Monmouth was forced to flee the country. When he was dying in 1685, Charles II confessed that he was secretly a Roman Catholic, the religion of the Queen Mother, although he had been restored to the throne after Cromwell on condition that he be a loyal supporter of the Church of England. Since Charles had no legitimate children, his brother James, Duke of York (the future James II), was the obvious successor, and James II eventually took the throne as an open Roman Catholic. But the ambitious Monmouth, an Anglican Protestant, was persuaded by followers such as the unscrupulous Earl of Shaftsbury, that he should claim the throne himself, and in June 1685 he landed in England from the Continent with an army of 4,000 men. He foolishly expected the English population to rise in his support, but the people, reluctant to get involved in another civil war, failed to back him and Monmouth was easily defeated by the King's army at Sedgemoor. He was captured, condemned to death for treason, and beheaded at the age of 36. The equestrian portrait here shows him fighting at Maastrict (in Holland) in 1673 (figure 1).

The Last King

A 2004 film, "The Last King" portrays King Charles II and his relationship with his illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth.


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: April 17, 2004