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Catherine of Braganza

(1638—1705) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, consort of Charles II.

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Queen of England and Scotland, b. 15 Nov. 1638, da. of John, king of Portugal, and Louisa, da. of the duke of Medina Sidonia; m. Charles II, 21 May 1662; d. 31 Dec. 1705; bur. Belem, Portugal.

The Portuguese, anxious for an alliance with England which would help to protect the newly won independence from Spain, offered substantial inducements for a marriage: Tangiers, Bombay, and a large dowry. The princess was small, brought up in some seclusion, and did not command languages. Charles reported cautiously that there was nothing in her face to disgust; in 1662, Pepys thought her ‘not very charming’, but a year later, seeing her riding with the king, decided she was ‘mighty pretty’. She learned at an early stage to accept Charles's infidelities. The most important aspect of the marriage was her childlessness, leaving Charles's younger brother, James, as heir. Charles refused suggestions that he should divorce her, and stood by her during the Popish plot, when she was the victim of wild accusations that she intended to poison him. She remained in England after his death until 1692, spending the rest of her life in her native land.

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