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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Women of Charles II - Barbara Palmer - Duchess of Cleveland

Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Castlemaine, For our second woman in the life of Charles II we have Barbara Palmer, the 1st Duchess of Cleveland. This one is a mistress, probably his most well known. I find it interesting that I had heard of his many mistresses before, but not his wife!

Barbara Palmer was married to Roger Palmer, but they were mostly separated after the birth of her first child. She was a well-known courtesan in England.

She met Charles II in about 1660 while he was still abroad in the Hague. At court, Barbara held much more power than Queen Catherine of Braganza. The two were constantly butting heads. Charles appointed Barbara as Lady of the Bedchamber to his Queen, something Catherine was not too happy about (can you blame her?)

Barbara had many children during him time with Charles and he acknowledged 5 of them:
Lady Anne Palmer (Fitzroy)
Charles Palmer (Fitzroy)
Henry Fitzroy
Charlotte Fitzroy
George Fitzroy

(Another interesting note: I didn't know until recently that Fitzroy means "son of the king" and was usually a last name given to the illegitimate children of kings).

Around the mid 1670's Barbara's power over the king began to wane and he passed her aside for his new mistress, Louise de Keroualle (tomorrow's topic). She eventually died of dropsy (oedema).

If you would like to read more about Barbara Palmer try:

Royal Harlot: A Novel of the Countess Castlemaine and King Charles II by Susan Holloway Scott

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I want to read that so bad! I did not know she died of dropsy. I can not wait for Louise, I think she had MS. What do you think?

  2. I love this! I just finished French Mistress...so I can't wait til you get to Louise:)

  3. Enjoyed your post, I did know about the Fitzroy name. I really liked the Royal Harlot, it was a great introduction to a mistress I didn't know much about.

  4. BTW *happy dance* congratulations on BBAW nomination!

  5. ;)
    happy dance*
    And Love these posts. Thanks for taking the time to do them!

  6. I am currently reading Royal Harlot, and Barbara Villiers lived a very interesting life!

    I was first interested in Charles II after reading Forever Amber, and now really hope to read a lot more set in that time! So fascinating.


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