Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II
According to John Evelyn, the great diarist, Charles II was ‘addicted to women’. Charles' court is infamous for tales of licentiousness and promiscuity, and I was thrilled to be joined by Linda Porter who introduced me to Charles' impressive list of mistresses. There was Frances Teresa Stuart, ‘the prettiest girl in the world’, Barbara Villiers, an ill-tempered courtier, ‘pretty, witty’ Nell Gwynn, Moll Davis, who bore the last of the king’s fifteen illegitimate children and Louise de Kéroualle, the French aristocrat – and spy for Louis XIV. Trapped in the middle of it all was Queen Catherine, the Portuguese princess, who was far from the childless, forlorn and humiliated figure we have come to imagine. Linda argues that she was likeable and resilient, and a leading cultural figure of the day.
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