According to the great diarist, John Evelyn, Charles II was 'addicted to women', and throughout his long reign a great many succumbed to his charms. Clever, urbane and handsome, Charles presided over a hedonistic court, in which licence and licentiousness prevailed.
Mistresses is the story of the women who shared Charles's bed, each of whom wielded influence on both the politics and cultural life of the country. From the young king-in-exile's first mistress and mother to his first child, Lucy Walter, to the promiscuous and ill-tempered courtier, Barbara Villiers. From Frances Teresa Stuart, 'the prettiest girl in the world' to history's most famous orange-seller, 'pretty, witty' Nell Gwynn and to her fellow-actress, Moll Davis, who bore the last of the king's fifteen illegitimate children. From Louise de Keroualle, the French aristocrat - and spy for Louis XIV - to the sexually ambiguous Hortense Mancini. Here, too, is the forlorn and humiliated Queen Catherine, the Portuguese princess who was Charles's childless queen.
Drawing on a wide variety of original sources, including material in private archives, Linda Porter paints a vivid picture of these women and of Restoration England, an era that was both glamorous and sordid.
Country of Publication:
14 April 2020
From 18 years
Section - i: Author's Note Section - ii: The Illegitimate Children of Charles II Section - iii: Prologue Unit - 1: Companions in Exile - Lucy Walter, 1630-58 Chapter - 1: 'Mrs Barlow' Chapter - 2: The Trouble with Lucy Chapter - 3: Marking Time Unit - 2: The Lady - Barbara Villiers, 1640-1709 Chapter - 4: 'That blooming beauty' Chapter - 5: The Royal Whore Chapter - 6: The Duchess Unit - 3: The Queen - Catherine of Braganza, 1638-1705 Chapter - 7: A Wealthy Wife Chapter - 8: 'Full of sweetness and goodness' Unit - 4: 'His Coy Mistress' - Frances Teresa Stuart, 1647-1702 Chapter - 9: La Belle Stuart Chapter - 10: The One Who Got Away Unit - 5: The Stage and the Throne - Nell Gwyn, 1651(?)-87 Chapter - 11: From Bawdy House to the King's Bed Chapter - 12: The Protestant Whore Unit - 6: Baby Face - Louise de Keroualle, 1649-1734 Chapter - 13: La Bretonne Chapter - 14: Mrs Carwell Chapter - 15: The Exclusion Crisis Unit - The Cardinal's Niece - Hortense Mancini, 1646-99: 7 Chapter - 16: An Italian Girl in Paris Chapter - 17: The Last Mistress Section - iv: Epilogue Unit - v: Notes Section - vi: Select Bibliography Section - vii: Picture Acknowledgements Index - viii: Index
Linda Porter has a doctorate in History from the University of York, where she studied early modern English and French history under the late Professor Gwyn Williams. She was the winner of the 2004 Biographers Club/Daily Mail Prize, which helped launch her on a new career as an author. She is the author of several works of historical biography including, Mary Tudor: The First Queen, Katherine the Queen, Crown of Thistles and Royal Renegades. She is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine and History Today. She lives in Kent.
Reviews for Mistresses: Sex and Scandal at the Court of Charles II
Takes a fresh look at Charles' reign through the many women who shared his bed . . . an interesting approach: after all, we all know that rulers act out of personal satisfaction as much as political sense. * The Herald * The lives of these seven women make a terrific story and Porter tells it well. -- Andrew Taylor * The Times * In telling the story of Charles's mistresses, Porter skillfully interweaves the politics with the passion . . . an enlightening read. -- Tracy Borman * The Sunday Times *