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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:36 AM   #1

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Did Charles II really convert to Catholicism?


When King Charles II signed the secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV, was that he would convert to Catholicism in return for French money and support. In a book I am reading by David Starkey, he implies that Charles always wanted to convert and that the promise was genuine. Other sources I have read imply that Charles didn't really mean it, and only did it so he could become stronger and rule without parliament.

And of course, Charles II is known to have finally converted on his death bed which is not disputed and seems to be fact.

Why would he do this? While Charles II opposed the test act and clarendon code, it only seemed that he respected Catholics and believed in some freedom of religion, not that he was catholic himself. I have always known Charles to be a devout follower of the Protestant faith. So what changed on his deathbed? This has been bothering me for a while.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:47 AM   #2

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My understanding is that he converted on his deathbed, at the instance of his brother James, then Duke of York, and his wife, Catherine of Braganza. But it's difficult to say whether he understood what he was doing.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:52 AM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pancho35 View Post
When King Charles II signed the secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV, was that he would convert to Catholicism in return for French money and support. In a book I am reading by David Starkey, he implies that Charles always wanted to convert and that the promise was genuine. Other sources I have read imply that Charles didn't really mean it, and only did it so he could become stronger and rule without parliament.

And of course, Charles II is known to have finally converted on his death bed which is not disputed and seems to be fact.

Why would he do this? While Charles II opposed the test act and clarendon code, it only seemed that he respected Catholics and believed in some freedom of religion, not that he was catholic himself. I have always known Charles to be a devout follower of the Protestant faith. So what changed on his deathbed? This has been bothering me for a while.
It's not at all strange considering that Charles II (and James) were raised largely at the court of Louis XIV in France being that there father was killed and they sort of had to flee. That Charles II was partial to catholicism is hence not strange at all. And Charles indeed converted on his deathbed. Why did he then act differently in English politics? Obviously: cause it's politics. Why on his deathbed? Cause nobody would bother him afterwards...
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:57 AM   #4

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Well I think that solves that mystery. Considering his life and circumstances of his illness, everything points to James II manipulating Charles into a conversion to which he was not fully aware of what he was doing.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 04:25 AM   #5

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Im not so sure about him being unaware, he was aware enough to plead that people look after Nell Gwyn.

As GV points out, considering his childhood an upbringing, it wouldnt really surprise me if he had wanted to be Catholic or at least considered it all his life, but politcal practicalities made it otherwise.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 04:33 AM   #6

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Dont forget that part of the reason Charles I was ousted was because people thought he was going to travel to Ireland for the reason of raising a Catholic army to enforce a change on England from Protestantism to Catholicism.

Charles II views were quite easy going,unlike the openly Catholic brother James II.
The fact on his deathbed he converted proves deep down he had an understanding of the two religions but didnt want to rock the boat by converting when he was an active monarch.
James would have had an influence in this but not all.

Hence when James became king it exposed the very reason why Charles didnt convert during his active reign,only on his deathbed.
The chaos caused speaks for itself.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 05:02 AM   #7

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Dont forget that part of the reason Charles I was ousted was because people thought he was going to travel to Ireland for the reason of raising a Catholic army to enforce a change on England from Protestantism to Catholicism.

Charles II views were quite easy going,unlike the openly Catholic brother James II.
The fact on his deathbed he converted proves deep down he had an understanding of the two religions but didnt want to rock the boat by converting when he was an active monarch.
James would have had an influence in this but not all.

Hence when James became king it exposed the very reason why Charles didnt convert during his active reign,only on his deathbed.
The chaos caused speaks for itself.
I find what happened to James II very sad. His own daughters turned on him, and Anne even lied to convince Mary and William to come England and usurp their father.

It was all because of the extreme protestant bias in England at the time. Even when Charles II made moderate concessions to catholics about something as simple mercantlism and shop owning, the protestant masses became riled and angry. Even his simple wife Catherine of Braganza was accused of treason during the
Popish_Plot Popish_Plot
So while it is not disputed that Charles II converted on his deathbed, would it truely be any wonder if he did oblige to the Treaty of Dover and kept it heavily guarded?
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Old May 24th, 2011, 05:10 AM   #8

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Precisely Kiki.
Charles knew the country wasnt ready for all the religious upheaval that any kind of conversion would start.
As you say he used the sofly softly method of making some more allowances for Catholics and more freedom for them.

James went into his reign like a bull in a china shop and totally misread the situation,thinking that because Charles had converted,that the nation would accept it as well if he pushed them.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 05:15 AM   #9

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Precisely Kiki.
Charles knew the country wasnt ready for all the religious upheaval that any kind of conversion would start.
As you say he used the soflt softly method of making some more allowances for Catholics and more freedom for them.

James went into his reign like a bull in a china shop and totally misread the situation.
I think his response to the Monmouth Rebellion also hurt him. Granted he was within means to execute the Duke, but the collateral damage was massive and it sent a very strong (and unacceptable) message to the people and his political actions afterwards angered Parliament.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 05:29 AM   #10

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Ineed it did,and the way the majority of the rebellion soldiers (if you call peasants hastily trained with pitchforks,soldiers) was too ruthless and too bloody,which,as you say again,sent an almost tyrannical message to the people .
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