Sunday, November 7, 2010

Be Careful Who You Mess With, For They May Hide a Laxative in Your Food.

"Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore." ~Nell Gwynne

Nell Gwynne is not a name you hear much anymore, but in 17th century England she was all the rage.  Perhaps not all the rage, but she was an immensely popular mistress to the notorious Charles II.  Unlike his father, the loving and loyal Charles I, Charles II had as many as thirteen mistresses and fourteen illegitimate children.

When I wrote my post "What Do President Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots Have in Common?", I commented how raw and emotional the debate is between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots' supporters.  Historical, as well as contemporary cat fights, enthrall us all.  As we turn the pages of history, each infamous cat fight is revisited and argued anew.

Surprisingly, a lady like Nell has disappeared from history, despite being the wittiest, least greedy and best cat fighter of Charles' II mistresses.  Nell came from a poor family, had a successful acting career and wooed the king.  Nell's cat fighting with the other mistresses was never due to religious or ideological agendas.  Instead, it arouse from jealousy (try sharing a man with several women) and general annoyance with the other mistresses.

 Moll Davis, also an actress and mistress of Charles, annoyed Nell by her vulgar displays of wealth she had accumulated as a royal mistress.  Irritated, a bit jealous and motivated by spite, Nell got her revenge the best way she knew how, by placing a laxative in Moll's meal before she slept with Charles.  After that night, Moll's services were no longer needed by the king.

Moll, however, wasn't her biggest annoyance.  Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth was her greatest rival.  Louise hated Nell for her low birth and had a strong religious agenda.  Being Catholic, she desired for Charles II to covert.  Charles, being more political savvy than his father, refused and remained marginally Protestant.

I would write something witty about Louise de Keroualle, but it wouldn't be up to Nell's standards.

Bitter words and mockery were the only things to pass between Louise and Nell.  Although Louise wanted the "orange wench" gone, she was never able to get rid of her. Nell was simply to loyal, witty and genuinely in love with Charles, which made her a impenetrable rival.  Unfortunately, all of Nell's love wasn't enough to be with Charles on his deathbed.  She didn't have a title and all the begging in the world couldn't gain her access to the king.  Fortunately for Nell, Charles begged his brother, the Duke of York and future king, to watch over her.  Perhaps there was a little of his father in Charles II, the loyal yet ineffective king whom loved his wife above all things.  Nell, was his Henrietta Maria after all.

You might also like:
"What Do President Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots Have in Common?"
Move Over Xena:  Isabella was a True Warrior Princess.

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  1. Me too! Thanks for coming back Paty! Love your website.

  2. Good post, and quite funny in places. The bit about Charles II deathbed rememberance was quite touching.


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