Henrietta Maria (1609–69), queen of Charles I. Charles married Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of Henri IV of France, in May 1625 after his Spanish marriage plans had come to naught. She was aged 15, small and vivacious, with dark curly hair, large brown eyes, and protruding teeth. She danced and sang well, surrounded herself with her French catholic servants, and found her first years in England trying. Her husband was rather solemn and there was a very sharp quarrel in 1626 when he sent all her servants packing. But her relations with her husband became close, particularly after the death of Buckingham in 1628. Their first child, the future Charles II, was born in May 1630. The 1630s she looked back on as halcyon days but increasingly Charles's political troubles darkened their lives. She fled to Holland in February 1642 with the crown jewels to raise men and money. Returning in July 1643 she joined Charles at Oxford, spending her time at Merton College. Heavily pregnant, she fled once more in 1644, giving birth to her youngest daughter at Exeter in June en route for France. She never saw her husband again. During the Cromwellian years she remained in France, returning to England at the Restoration in 1660, when Pepys noted her as ‘a very little plain old woman’. She left England for good in 1665. Clarendon thought her meddlesome and historians have blamed her for many of Charles's misfortunes. She appears to have urged the disastrous attempt to arrest the five members, which she also inadvertently betrayed. But her influence has probably been exaggerated and Charles was quite capable of making his own mistakes.
Sue Minna Cannon
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