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Royal Escape    by Georgette Heyer order for
Royal Escape
by Georgette Heyer
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2008 (1938)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Georgette Heyer's Royal Escape is the true story of King Charles II's flight from England to find refuge in France. As a young boy he lived in France after being smuggled there by his father, Charles I. In 1650 he returned to Scotland and attempted to form an alliance with the Presbyterian Covenant forces to reclaim his father's throne. Charles was twenty-one years old and was crowned at Scone after his father was executed. He raised an army against Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth soldiers, hoping to restore the monarchy.

In September 1651, Charles was defeated in the Battle of Worcester. He rode North, seeking shelter at Royalist Safe Houses. He was disguised as a servant and spent six weeks in the English countryside trying to get back to France. Parliament put a thousand pound reward on the King's head, threatening the death penalty to anyone caught helping him. This, however, did not stop the few who offered their homes, food, and lives to help the King to safety.

Charles Giffard, owner of Boscobal House disguised the King in the clothes of a woodsman. His long curly hair was cut, and his face and arms stained with walnut juice to resemble a commoner. He spent time hidden in an oak tree, where he ate and slept for days while troops searched the grounds below him. Another family traveled with him, while he acted as a groomsman to a young woman. Living like this for six weeks did not dampen his spirits. He had a sense of adventure and was always joking with those who helped him. At times they feared for their lives as King Charles walked disguised among the enemy. Eventually he made it to the coast and boarded a ship headed to France.

King Charles returned to England in 1660 for the Restoration and summoned some of the people who helped him in his Royal Escape. They attended the King for years at Whitehall Palace. In 1675 they were given permanent pensions, which to this day are still being paid to their descendants. Royal Escape, first published in 1938, offers readers a very interesting window into the young life of King Charles II.

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