Royal Renegades: The Children of Charles I and the English Civil Wars

Written by Linda Porter
Review by Susan Higginbotham

One of Charles I’s more attractive qualities was his affection for his wife and children, whose privileged existences were shattered when the king was imprisoned and finally executed. In Royal Renegades, historian Linda Porter, known for her Tudor biographies, turns her attention to the offspring of the ill-fated Stuart king.

To set the stage for her account of the six royal children who survived past infancy or early childhood—Charles, Mary, James, Elizabeth, Henry, and Henriette Anne (“Minette”)—Porter by necessity spends a great deal of time on the stories of their parents; indeed, Charles I does not exit the scene until halfway through the book. As is to be expected, the glamorous Charles II looms large here, but as Porter concerns herself mainly with the period before the Restoration, we see much more of the exile than the king. Mary and Henry, whose stories are often relegated to a few paragraphs in biographies of their better-known relations, get their due here.

Well-written, well-sourced, and objective, Royal Renegades will be appreciated both by those who know relatively little about the Stuarts and by those who have a well-stocked Stuart library.