In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

“King Charles II of England and His Mistresses”

9 Comments

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Ah, the good old days when kings had mistresses openly, mistresses who were showered with titles and wealth and, for the more savvy, had the wherewithal to convert their sway (and swagger) into political power. All they had to do was attract the king’s eye, have sex with him, bear and raise his children.

In an interesting article, entitled, “King Charles II of England and His Mistresses,” on a well-groomed, professional-looking blog site called Hubpages by case1worker, I was reminded that the life of a mistress, at least with respect to Charles II, was a very good life indeed, and really one of mere practicality, an escape for a king encumbered with kingly duties as well as a chance at a relationship that would be deemed closer to “normal” in terms of modern day’s marriages: love, passion, shared wealth and children. Charles II, like many kings, married for political purchase and not for love. However, there is no need to feel sorry for him. He pursued his love interests where he found them–and he found many.

One of his several mistresses, according to the above-referenced article, maximized her position, admirably: earned wealth, title, influence, kids with same, and lovers too. After Charles married, Lady Portsmouth was installed in a convenient location relative to the palace where he lived with his barren wife, to carry on his affair, but Portsmouth eventually moved out so Charlie could pursue other women.

Old Charlie II sired more than 15 illegitimate children, all who were placed in decorous positions, pensions, and/or titles, and all of whom were present at his death, over which his wife presided while Charlie professed his life-long love to his mistress.

Wacky times, yes, but very practical. I enjoyed the article for its clarity and succinctness. However, I wish there were references–at least conveniently located because I could not find them–for the information so nicely collected and reported on this smart-looking page. The pictures are lovely too. Enjoy.

9 thoughts on ““King Charles II of England and His Mistresses”

  1. As Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be the king.”

      • Everyone – and I mean everyone, including me – should have a mistress or be one. You can tell a mistress things that you can’t tell your so called life partner and vise versa. For some it provides emotional stability. For others perhaps an emotional release. It’s obvious that that need for mistresses (and ‘misters’) has indured throughout human time, perhaps as long as the oldest profession. That is not to equate to two, but to state that the need for one or the other seems to be intrinsic. Perhaps even those who do not participate in such activity at least have the thought of taking on one or the other, if only in a passing thought sometimes. The human mind is probably too complicated for some to burden a single person with all that it contains. Perhaps engaging with one or the other relieves a partner of a burden too heavy to endure.

        But then again, perhaps I am wrong.

      • Everyone – and I mean everyone, including me – should have a mistress or be one. You can tell a mistress things that you can’t tell your so called life partner and vise versa. For some it provides emotional stability. For others perhaps an emotional release. It’s obvious that that need for mistresses (and ‘misters’) has indured throughout human time, perhaps as long as the oldest profession. That is not to equate the two, but to state that the need for one or the other seems to be intrinsic. Perhaps even those who do not participate in such activity at least have the thought of taking on one or the other, if only in passing sometimes. The human mind is probably too complicated for some to burden a single person with all that it contains. Perhaps engaging with one or the other relieves a partner of a burden too heavy to endure.

        But then again, perhaps I am wrong.

      • Given its long history and acknowledged historical purpose and practicality, the question is what beside the need for social organization/record keeping and the influx of a Judeo-Christian morality in Western, westernized or westernizing societies has kept the mistress in the terrain of the taboo? One of the many avenues I continue to research in entertaining this blog.

  2. MPM, you’re not wrong.

  3. Pingback: Guest Post: Revisiting Shame and the Mistress | In the gaze of the other

  4. What has made the mistress taboo? ha! other women.

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