Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Stuart Prince - Rupert of the Rhine XI

Prince Rupert
Off With the Old, On With the New

There is little evidence of affairs in Rupert’s life; he was believed to have had an affair with the Duchess of Richmond during the Civil War, but as he was a good friend of the Duke as well as the Duchess this could be thought of as unlikely. In 1663 the diarist John Evelyn recorded that Sir George Carteret[i] married his daughter to Sir Thomas Scot, of Scottshall in Essex, believed to be the son of Prince Rupert[ii].

One Dudley Bard[iii] was recognised as Rupert’s son; he was born during the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War. His mother was Frances Bard, daughter of Henry Bard, one of Charles I’s most loyal supporters. Frances claimed to be Rupert’s wife, a scrap of paper certifying the marriage was dated 30th July 1664. Rupert and Frances were an item for three years before a bitter split.

The split between Frances and Rupert resulted when Rupert fell madly in love with one Peg Hughes, an actress, who travelled with Nell Gwynn and other actors to perform before the Queen at Tunbridge Wells where Catherine was taking the waters. Count Grammont wrote in his memoirs;

‘Prince Rupert found charms in the person of another player, called Hughes, who brought down, and greatly subdued his natural fierceness. From this time, adieu alembics, crucibles, furnaces, and all the black furniture of the forges........she caused the poor prince to act a part so unnatural, that he no longer appeared like the same person.’[iv]

A Home at Last

Peg Hughes
Peg Hughes was not the first actress Rupert had slept with; John Evelyn outed Rupert, among others, in a list of shame[v] composed in October 1666. Rupert was besotted with Peg and this was viewed with much amusement in the Restoration court, a bitter and dangerous place of brittle friendships, character assassinations and concealed enmity.

Peg had been the mistress of Sir Charles Sedley, one of Charles’ friends and a court wit. Peg continued to act for a while after she and Rupert came to an accommodation; in October 1669 she was listed as being part of the King’s Company. Her portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely.

In May 1673 Peg gave birth to Ruperta[vi], who Rupert proudly acknowledged as his own child. Ruperta inherited her feistiness from both parents as Rupert wrote to his sister Sophie;

‘She already rules the whole house, and sometimes argues with her mother, which makes us laugh.’[vii]

In 1677 Rupert built Peg a home, costing £25,000[viii], on land that he bought in Hammersmith from Sir Nicholas Crispe. Rupert lavished jewellery on Peg[ix], giving her items from the Palatinate royal collection including his mother’s pearls.

Keeper of the Castle

George Monck, Duke of Albemarle
Rupert had long coveted the post of Master of the Horse to his cousin and since the late 1660s had been negotiating to purchase the post from Monck[x]. Charles refused to allow the purchase to go ahead, claiming it would be prejudicial to his affairs for Monck not to hold the post.

Charles’ Catholic queen had failed to provide an heir and his brother James was had become a Catholic. The Protestant party was pushing for Charles to divorce Catherine and produce a Protestant heir. There were those who pushed for Charles illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth[xi], to be legitimised and made his heir.

Rupert was furious when he discovered in 1668 that Monck had been allowed to sell the post to the Duke of Buckingham, one of Charles’ sycophants[xii]. Buckingham paid Monck £1,000 per annum[xiii]. To assuage his cousin’s annoyance in September Charles made Rupert Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle. Charles needed someone of immaculate credentials; royal, a long time supporter of the regime and, most importantly in the current crisis, Protestant.

Windsor in the 1670s
Rupert had his own apartments in the castle which John Evelyn perceived as effeminate;

‘Prince Rupert [as] Constable had begun to trim up the keep or high round tower and handsomely adorned his hall with furniture of arms which was very singular....we went into his bedchamber and ample rooms which were hung with tapestry, curious and effeminate paintings.’[xiv]

Rupert appointed his own men to key posts; his doctor was appointed the castle’s chirugeon[xv]; Sir William Reeves, Rupert’s former page, was made Rider of the Forest of Windsor with powers to act as Rupert’s lieutenant if necessary. With the run of the castle Rupert could now return the hospitality he had received from friends on the continent; entertaining the Landgrave of Hesse among others.

Rupert re-organised the procedures used for defending the castle and provided more up to date weapons for the soldiers along with better barracks. He had the Devil’s Tower repaired and had it used for storing the garrison’s gunpowder.

Financial Concerns

Rupert's Land
Rupert’s love of hunting made him an ideal custodian of the Windsor estates; Charles, always restless loved to come down from London to hunt stags in the forest and walk through the park. Rupert was as sporting as his cousin, keeping a yacht on the Thames, but also kept a suite of apartments in one of the castle’s towers where he could undertake his experiments. But, as with so many Stuart appointments, the emoluments were tardy in arrival;

‘Charles Bertie to the Auditor of the Receipt to pay Prince Rupert 1½ years of his allowance of 10s a day[xvi] as Governor of Windsor Castle.’[xvii]

Rupert was not a rich man and needed every penny. To help fund his growing expenses Rupert was heavily involved in the Hudson’s Bay Company. Two French traders, Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard des Groseilliers, unable to interest the French state in their proposals to set up a trading post on Hudson Bay in the far north of Canada[xviii], turned to England and found a sponsor in Rupert. The company received its charter in 1670 and Rupert was made its Governor.

Fighting Co-Religionists

Battle of Texel
In 1672, following Charles secret alliance with Louis[xix] the Treaty of Dover (1670), the disagreements between the Dutch and English flared up again, fuelled by France’s grand European designs. The two countries set to once more; the Third Anglo Dutch War being forced on the country by Charles and his ally Lord Arlington. The Dutch were reliant on de Ruyter and his four victories over the English navy gave the Dutch a breathing space, enabling them to fend off the French.

The 1673 Test Act[xx] disqualified James from his post as Lord High Admiral and Charles appointed his cousin, a staunch Calvinist, to command the fleet. Rupert was not however allowed his choice of men to serve under him. Rather than his friend Holmes, Rupert had Sir Edward Spragge.

The battle of Texel in early August 1673 saw the death of Edward Spragge and Rupert wrote to Charles;

‘I hope you will send us your pleasure for our flags. Sir Edward being unfortunately drowned, I hope there will be no dispute to have Sir Robert Holmes in his place.’[xxi]

Rupert was not destined to have his friend under his command; Charles ignored his cousin’s recommendation and appointed someone else. The end of the fighting season saw the fleet in the Thames for re-victualling and a refit; the war with the Dutch came to an end over the winter. The Treaty of Westminster was signed in February 1674.

Death of a Cavalier

George Louis, Prince of Hanover
Rupert’s involvement in the Hudson’s Bay Company led to a friendship with Lord Shaftesbury[xxii] whose attitude to Charles’ government was so critical that he was dismissed as Lord President of the Council. Shaftesbury, along with many others, was determined to exclude James from the succession; something Charles was equally determined to prevent. Rupert was one of those who tried to persuade Charles to recall parliament in January 1680; Charles ignored the petitioners.

By the late 1670’s Rupert’s health increasingly troubled him. His head wound was paying up again and he suffered from an open sore on his leg; when his nephew George Louis[xxiii] visited in 1680 he wrote to inform his mother;

I went to see Uncle Rupert who received me in bed for his ailment often keeps him to his bed. He has to take care of himself.’[xxiv]

Rupert made use of an invalid chair, but was still able to attend to his own and his adopted countries affairs. In October 1681 Rupert attended a meeting of the Privy Council to discuss the intended sale of guns that he had invented to the French. Eventually the guns were sold to the Board of Ordnance.

Henry VII Chapel, Westminster Abbey
Rupert died at his home in Spring Gardens on 29th November 1681; he was 62. Lord Craven[xxv] was appointed executor of his will and Ruperta’s guardian. Rupert was buried in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey. The court went into mourning for three weeks.

His lack of extravagance meant that he was able to leave Peg and Ruperta well provided for along with rewards for his faithful servants. Dudley Bard received the house at Rhenen, and all monies owed to him by the Emperor, Charles Louis and other non-English debtors.


Prince Rupert of the Rhine – Maurice Ashley, Purnell Book Services Ltd 1976

The Later Stuarts – George Clark, Oxford University Press 1985

Charles II – Christopher Falkus, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1972

Prince Rupert of the Rhine – Patrick Morrah, Constable & Company 1976

Man of War – Richard Ollard, Phoenix Press 2001

Prince Rupert – Charles Spencer, Phoenix Paperback 2008

[i] Treasurer of the Navy
[ii] Rupert never acknowledged him as such.
[iii] Dudley died fighting at the Siege of Budapest
[iv] Prince Rupert - Spencer
[v] Including Charles II and the Earls of Oxford and Dorset
[vi] Who later married Emanuel Howe
[vii] Prince Rupert - Spencer
[viii] In 2014 the relative: historic opportunity cost of that project is £3,461,000.00 economic cost of that project is £743,100,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[ix] One estimate is that he gave her over £20,000 worth in a decade
[x] Now Duke of Albemarle
[xi] Later to die in the Monmouth rebellion
[xii] Buckingham had not been one of those courtiers who had supported the Stuart cause throughout the Interregnum, but had courted one of Oliver Cromwell’s daughters and disparaged Charles Stuart. Instead he married the daughter of Lord Fairfax. With the Restoration Buckingham fawned upon Charles who gave him back his estates and a place on the Privy Council
[xiii] In 2014 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £153,300.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £4,764,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £32,520,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xiv] Rupert of the Rhine - Ashley
[xv] Surgeon
[xvi] In 2014 the relative: real price of that commodity is £72.66 income value of that commodity is £2,327.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xvii] Prince Rupert - Spencer
[xviii] Canada was mostly being scouted and claimed by the French who dominated the fur trading in the area
[xix] In return for a pension to free Charles from the demands of Parliament and enabling him to rule undemocratically
[xx] Demanding that Catholics and non-Conformists took an oath of supremacy and allegiance and took communion in Church of England services
[xxi] Man of War - Ollard
[xxii] To become leader of the Whigs party.
[xxiii] Later George I
[xxiv] Prince Rupert of the Rhine - Morrah
[xxv] A former admirer of Rupert’s mother

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A Stuart Prince - Rupert of the Rhine X

The Battle of Lowestoft
Fighting on the High Seas

Rupert fell ill with complications to the head wound he had received in fighting during the Thirty Years’ War. He did not recover to take part in active duty until late 1664 when he accompanied James on an inspection of the fleet. The inexperienced James was overcome with the might of the English fleet and acquiesced when Parliament pressed Charles to declare war on the Dutch and voting £2.5 million[i] to prosecute the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War[ii].

The most important causus belli was trade; the English were treading on the tails of the Dutch in America, Africa and the East Indies. Rupert was Vice-Admiral of the fleet and Admiral of the Second Squadron under James’ leadership. James strategy was to blockade the enemy ports until the Dutch fleets were forced to make a dash for the open seas, to defend their trade routes.

The Battle of Lowestoft on 7th June 1665 was a victory for the English sinking 20 Dutch warships and with four enemy admirals dead. But due to an untimely intervention by Henry Brouncker[iii] the Dutch fleet escaped. Rupert later reported to parliament;

‘I shall only say, in short, if the Duke’s orders, as they ought, had been strictly observed, the victory which was then obtained had been much greater, nay, in all probability the whole fleet of the enemy had been destroyed.’[iv]

Sir Robert Holmes (R) with Sir Frescheville Holles
During the battle Rupert’s Rear Admiral, Robert Sansum died; to replace him Rupert nominated his friend Robert Holmes. James preferred his own man John Harman[v].

‘The Duke went aboard the Royal James to see Prince Rupert, who kept to his chamber of a sore leg......but his Royal Highness thought more fit to give that flag to Capt. Harman.’[vi]

Rupert’s man Holmes then resigned his commission; he was however well able to support himself with the civil and military appointments already gifted to him[vii].

Henrietta Maria was horrified by the English losses during the fighting and persuaded Charles that it was not suitable for the heir to the throne to put himself in harm’s way. Accordingly James was confined to shore. Charles offered a joint command to Rupert and the Earl of Sandwich, one of Rupert’s old adversaries. Rupert felt that a divided command was worse than useless and declined. Sandwich was put in overall control but was soon found guilty of taking bounty from Dutch merchantmen and sent off to Spain as the English ambassador.

The Four Days Battle

the Four Days' Battle
In early 1666 command of the navy was divided between George Monck[viii] and Rupert. The country now faced the prospect of fighting not only the Dutch but also France; Louis XIV had decided to oppose his cousin’s expansionist policies. The Netherlands and France were joined by Denmark in the war against the English.

Monck and Rupert set about tightening discipline and demanded adequate and appropriate ammunition for the fleet, now down to 66 ships[ix]. James ordered that the fleet be divided between the two commanders. So when the French, under the Duke of Beaufort, left Toulon, Rupert sailed to intercept him and Monck was left on his own to attack the Dutch.

The Four Day’s Battle begun twenty miles off Ostend. On 1st June Monck and his men were caught between two lines of fire; the following day, reduced to 40 ships Monck attempted to sail back to the English coast. He was joined by Rupert and his fleet on the afternoon of 3rd June and the two admirals agreed to attack the following day. Pepys records that Monck[x];

‘By and by spied the Prince’s fleet coming......the Prince came up with the Generall’s[xi] fleet, and the Dutch came together again and bore towards their own coast.’[xii]

The End of a Tumultuous Year

Holmes' Bonfire
A further battle took place on 24th July off Orford Ness, victory going to the English by a narrow margin. On 9th August Robert Holmes, back with the navy, raided the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling, off the Zuider Zee. He claimed to have burnt 150 merchantmen at anchor on the islands, costing the Dutch £1 million[xiii].

In early September Monck was diverted back to London to help deal with the consequences of the Great Fire in London.

Rupert prepared a detailed report on the campaigning season, blaming poor intelligence about the intentions of the French fleet, the intentions of the Dutch and finally the whereabouts of Monck when Rupert’s fleet was ordered to join them to give battle. Rupert referred to ‘intolerable neglect’ in provisioning and maintenance of the ships. He also recommended that Harwich’s defences should be upgraded along with those of Sheerness. The Duke of York’s decision to ignore this advice was to cost the country dear.

Barbara, Lady Castlemaine
Pepys and the Navy Board retaliated to Rupert’s complaints by asserting that Rupert brought the fleet home in bad condition at the end of the fighting season. At a meeting on 7th October Rupert informed a meeting that;

‘Whatever the gentleman [Pepys] said, he had brought home his fleet in as good a condition as any fleet was ever brought home.’[xiv]

Pepys and the Navy Board were at cross purposes with Rupert. The navy was suffering from underfunding; Pepys had asked for £100,000[xv] to keep the fleet afloat, he was given £5,000[xvi] by Charles who was far happier to lavish money on his mistresses, especially the voracious Lady Castlemaine who held the king in thrall.

Difficult Decisions

During the winter Rupert underwent two trepanning operations on his head to alleviate the problems caused by his head wound. The second was to alleviate many of the problems caused by the botched first operation. Rupert was having problems sleeping and the constant pain in his head was worsening. Rupert believed that he would die, but Pepys wrote;

‘Since we told him that we believe he would overcome his disease, he is as merry and swears and laughs and curses, and do all the things of a man in health, as ever he did in his life.’[xvii]

Pepys believed that Rupert’s illness was a result of the clap[xviii] having gone to Rupert’s head.

News of Rupert’s death were rumoured on the Royal Exchange on 16th February, but Pepys was able to rectify the stories. Rupert used his convalescence to create refined versions of the surgeon’s tools used in his operation.

The Earl of Clarendon and his cronies were now responsible for the fatal decision to lay off sailors and lay up the larger warships; made because they believed the war almost won When he heard of the decision and was off his sickbed Rupert protested to Charles.

Difficult Times

Battle of the Medway
Early in June 1667 de Ruyter’s men captured Sheerness. The majority of the Dutch fleet remained off Sheerness but a force under Willem van Ghent attacked the Chatham navy yards in the Battle of the Medway. Van Ghent fired six warships and sailed off with James’ flagship, the Royal Charles and the Unity; a PR disaster for both Charles and the Navy Board. Pepys wrote;

‘Our hearts do now ake; for the news is true, that the Dutch have broken the Chain[xix] and burned our ships, and particularly the Royal Charles; other perticulars I know not, but most sad to be sure.’[xx]

Upnor Castle
Rupert was called upon to assist James and Monck as they summonsed troops to Upnor Castle[xxi]. Rupert deployed a battery of artillery at Woolwich, where he knew the enemy would have to pass. Lord Arlington[xxii] wrote;

‘On Thursday they came on again with 6 men of war and 5 fire ships.....but were so warmly received by Upper (sic) Castle and battery on the shore that they were forced to retire, with great damage beside the burning of their 5 fire ships.’[xxiii]

The Dutch were at point blank range when Rupert, in his element, gave the first order to fire. The Dutch retired to the mouth of the Thames and maintained control of the Channel for the next few weeks.

In December 1667 Pepys proposed that any officer wishing to be made a lieutenant should have served in the navy for three years, have a certificate from his captain and passed an exam in navigation and seamanship at the Navy Office. Rupert opposed this radical change, but the flag officers and Charles approved.


Prince Rupert of the Rhine – Maurice Ashley, Purnell Book Services Ltd 1976

Samuel Pepys, the Man in the Making – Arthur Bryant, Collins Clear Type Press 1948

The Later Stuarts – George Clark, Oxford University Press 1985

Charles II – Christopher Falkus, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1972

The Shorter Pepys – Robert Latham (ed), Penguin Books 1987

Prince Rupert of the Rhine – Patrick Morrah, Constable & Company 1976

Man of War – Richard Ollard, Phoenix Press 2001

Prince Rupert – Charles Spencer, Phoenix Paperback 2008

Samuel Pepys – Claire Tomalin, Alfred A Knopf 2002

[i] In 2014 the relative: historic opportunity cost of that project is £340,100,000.00 economic cost of that project is £77,830,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[ii] The 1st Anglo-Dutch War occurring during the Commonwealth, ending in August 1653 after the death of Admiral Tromp at the Battle of Scheveningen
[iii] One of James’ courtiers
[iv] Prince Rupert - Spencer
[v] Later Admiral
[vi] Man of War - Ollard
[vii] Deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight, Governor of Sandown Fort and Captain of his own Independent Company of Foot
[viii] Now Duke of Albemarle
[ix] The previous year’s plague had killed off many sailors
[x] Pepys’ patron; Pepys had a low opinion of Rupert
[xi] De Ruyter
[xii] The Shorter Pepys - Latham
[xiii] In 2014 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £150,700,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £4,208,000,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £28,600,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xiv] Rupert of the Rhine - Ashley
[xv] In 2014 the relative: historic opportunity cost of that project is £14,110,000.00 economic cost of that project is £2,860,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xvi] In 2014 the relative: historic opportunity cost of that project is £705,700.00 economic cost of that project is £143,000,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xvii] Prince Rupert - Spencer
[xviii] Gonorrhea; Rupert may have had the reputation of being a ladies’ man
[xix] Across the channel of the Medway
[xx] The Shorter Pepys - Latham
[xxi] An Elizabethan fort outside the Chatham dockyards
[xxii] An ally of Barbara Castlemaine’s against Clarendon; Arlington was one of those charged with management of the war
[xxiii] Prince Rupert - Spencer