Charles was the son of Charles I and after his father’s execution in 1649, Charles was accepted as king in Scotland but the English Parliament passed laws prohibiting any such declaration. The next period is known as the Commonwealth (or Interregnum) in which Parliament was the sole political and legal authority in England. Charles himself was defeated when he tried to invade with a Scots army and sought refuge in France, the Netherlands and Spain.
The death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 caused a political vacuum; Richard Cromwell had no support in the New Model Army and Charles was approached to accept the throne of England (the so-called Restoration). He was crowned in 1661 but for regnal purposes his reign was held to have begun on the day of his father’s execution. Under Charles II the puritan movement lost momentum, and previously deprecated entertainments such as the theatre were allowed, even encouraged. Outbreaks of plague in London (1665) followed by the ruinous fire which swept away part of the mediaeval city, gave unprecedented opportunities for new construction projects in the capital.
Charles had up to a dozen illegitimate children but no legitimate heir. At the age of 54 he suffered a seizure from which he never recovered; on his deathbed he willed the thrones of England and Scotland to his brother, James.