Cultural depictions of Charles II of England

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Statue of Charles II trampling Oliver Cromwell, erected 1672.

Charles II of England has been portrayed many times.


Sir Robert Vyner (1631–1688), supplied the regalia for the restoration of Charles II, and was appointed as the King's goldsmith in 1661. He was as much a banker as a goldsmith, and was knighted for his services in 1661 and was Lord Mayor of London in 1674. To show his devotion to the king, Vyner purchased a statue made in Italy for the Polish ambassador in London. It depicted the general, later King John Sobieski on a horse trampling a Turk.

The ambassador could not afford to pay for it and Vyner bought it and had it altered to show Charles II trampling Cromwell. How much was altered is uncertain. Cromwell's image, barely altered from the original Turk, appears to be wearing a turban. The statue reflects the Restoration perception of Cromwell. It was unveiled the 29 October 1672 at Stocks-Market, Cornhill and was removed in 1736 to make way for the construction of the Mansion House and reerected forty years later at Newby Hall, North Yorkshire.[1]

The statue was the subject of two satires, attributed[2] to Andrew Marvell: A poem of the statue in Stocks-Market and A dialogue between two horses.

Other statues include those in London's Soho Square,[3] St Mary's Square in Gloucester,[4] Edinburgh's Parliament Square, at the Central Criminal Court in London, at Newmarket Racecourse and near the south portal of Lichfield Cathedral.


  • Charles appears as Arethusius in Sir Percy Herbert's lengthy novel The Princess Cloria (1653–61), which fictionalizes his early life up to the coronation in 1660. Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, a sister of Charles II, was depicted as "Cloria".
  • Charles is a character in the novel The Children of the New Forest (1847) by Frederick Marryat.
  • The novel Harry Ogilvie or, the Black Dragoons (1856) by James Grant, focuses on Charles' time in Scotland in 1650–1651.[5]
  • London Pride; or When the World was Younger by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1896) focuses on Charles II's reign.[5]
  • The Tavern Knight (1904) by Rafael Sabatini, involves its Cavalier hero in the Battle of Worcester and assisting the escape of Charles II.[5]
  • Patricia at the Inn (1906) by J. C. Snaith is an adventure novel revolving around the exploits of the titular heroine as she and her husband help Charles II to escape.[5]
  • Charles appears in the 1926 novel Nell Gwyn: A Decoration (US Title: Mistress Nell Gwyn) by Marjorie Bowen.[6]
  • The novel His Majesty, The King (1926) by Cosmo Hamilton focuses on Charles during his exile in the Netherlands. [7]
  • Charles appears in The Black Pearl (1982), Volume 5 of The Morland Dynasty, a series of historical novels by author Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. This volume covers the Restoration period and Charles has family links to the fictional Morland family.
  • The young Charles is a character in Traitor's Field by Robert Wilton (2013), following him from the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester in 1651 to his flight into exile on the continent.
  • Charles appears as a central character in two plays – George Bernard Shaw's In Good King Charles's Golden Days (1939) and Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn (played in the premiere production in 2015 by David Sturzaker).
  • Charles II is the protagonist of Georgette Heyer's historical account, published in 1938, denoted The Royal Escape, which covers the period from the defeat at Worcester to his sailing to France, from 3 September to 15 October 1651; all of it spent in hiding and journeyings. The book, with a wealth of detail and taken from actual accounts by people who helped Charles along the way, and one by the King as dictated to Pepys (who would later write on the Great Plague) is meticulously cited.


Charles has been portrayed on screen by:


On television, Charles has been portrayed by:


  1. ^ Roscoe, Ingrid. "A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851". Henry Moore Foundation. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  2. ^ Margoliouth, H. M.; Legouis, Pierre (1971). The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199670321.
  3. ^ Sheppard, F. H. W., ed. (1966), "Soho Square Area: Portland Estate: Soho Square Garden", Survey of London: volumes 33 and 34: St Anne Soho, pp. 51–53, retrieved 19 April 2010
  4. ^ Gloucester City Council, Schedule of Listed Buildings by Grading (PDF), p. 349, archived from the original (pdf) on 16 January 2017, retrieved 14 January 2017
  5. ^ a b c d Ernest A. Baker, A Guide to Historical Fiction. London : G. Routledge and Sons, 1914. (p.73-4)
  6. ^ Tibbetts, John C. The Furies of Marjorie Bowen. Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2019, ISBN 9781476677163 (pgs. 196-198).
  7. ^ Daniel D. McGarry, Sarah Harriman White, Historical Fiction Guide: Annotated Chronological, Geographical, and Topical List of Five Thousand Selected Historical Novels. Scarecrow Press, 1963 (p.166)