Portrait of Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland (1662-1685)
Catherine of Braganza (Portuguese: Catarina de Bragança; 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was queen consort of England, of Scotland and of Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II. She was the daughter of King John IV, who became the first king of Portugal from the House of Braganza in 1640 after overthrowing the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs over Portugal. Catherine served as regent of Portugal during the absence of her brother in 1701 and during 1704–1705, after her return to her homeland as a widow. Owing to her devotion to the Roman Catholic faith in which she had been raised, Catherine was unpopular in Britain. She was a special object of attack by the inventors of the Popish Plot. In 1678 the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was ascribed to her servants, and Titus Oates accused her of an intention to poison the king. These charges, the absurdity of which was soon shown by cross-examination, nevertheless placed the queen for some time in great danger. On 28 November Oates accused her of high treason, and the English House of Commons passed an order for the removal of herself and of all Roman Catholics from the Palace of Whitehall. Several further depositions were made against her, and in June 1679 it was decided that she should stand trial, which threat however was lifted by the king's intervention, for which she later showed him much gratitude. She produced no heirs for the king, having suffered three miscarriages. Her husband kept many mistresses, most notably Barbara Palmer, whom Catherine was forced to accept as one of her Ladies of the Bedchamber. By his mistresses Charles fathered numerous illegitimate offspring, whom he acknowledged. She is credited with introducing the British to tea-drinking, which was then widespread among the Portuguese nobility.
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