Hello everyone, welcome to the first of a four part series on The Women of Charles II. Each day I am going to reveal one woman who played a major role in the life of King Chales II. I thought that it would be appropriate to start off the week with his wife: Catherine of Braganza.
Catherine came to England from the newly recognized country of Portugal. By marrying into England, she was able to protect her home country from invasion by Spain. Catherine and Charles were married on April 23, 1662 - she was 23, considered old for a first marriage, especially a royal one.
Catherine was not popular in England because she was a Catholic and they were still holding a grudge against Catholics after the reign of "Bloody" Mary Tudor. But, she was able to have influence over the people in one way; she introduced the custom of tea drinking to England. This is traditionally thought of as an English custom, but not until she started it!
Catherine had to share her life with Charles with his many other mistresses. Even in this situation, Charles insisted that Catherine be respected, as she was his wife. He took her side when plots were discovered trying to implicate her, as a Catholic, in plans to kill the king. He also refused many times to divorce her. Catherine was never able to carry a child to term, having at least 2 miscarriages, and not having a legitimate heir to the throne was a reason the people brought up the idea of a divorce.
After Charles' sudden death in 1685, Catherine stayed in England for awhile. She returned to Portugal in 1692, during the reign of William and Mary. Upon her return to Portugal, she was named Regent and ruled during her brother's illness. She died in 1705.
If you would like further reading on Catherine of Braganza try:
The Merry Monarch's Wife: The Story of Catherine of Braganza (A Queens of England Novel) by Jean Plaidy
Wife to Charles II by Hilda Lewis
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