Who was Britannia on the old penny coins?

This story always tickles me. It seems that Britannia in her trident and helmet on the old penny coins was one of the mistresses of Charles II. The so-called “Merry Monarch”, who ruled after the grim puritan interlude of Oliver Cromwell, had an insatiable libido. He famously carried on an affair with London street girl…

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The horror of the Great Plague of London in 1665

I’ve been on UKTV’s Private Lives of the Monarchs documentary series talking about the scandals that have enveloped various kings in history. This was the programme on Charles II and his less than gallant handling of the Great Plague in London. Basically, he fled the city as thousands of Londoners perished of the bubonic plague – a…

How close you have been to a mistress of Charles II

Charles II had at least fourteen mistresses ranging from top class courtesans to street prostitutes. There was the infamous Nell Gwynn, an actress who in her teens sold oranges outside the theatre before being accepted inside to tread the boards. At the other end of the social scale was Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine who…