When I remembered that 2019 marked the 400th anniversary of the birth of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, I immediately thought that this was something I wanted to mark: I spoke to Jane Pleydell-Bouverie, Festival Director of Chalke Valley, and we agreed that I should put together a talk on him for the CVHF audience that I know – from recent talks I’ve given there, on Charles I and then (last year) on Charles II – loves the English Civil War.
When I started researching Rupert for his biography, 13 years ago, I really only knew about his dynamic and controversial hand in that conflict. Then I got to grips with an astonishingly broad life – one that involved his piracy, romantic forays, many fascinating siblings, scientific and artistic discoveries, punchy quarrels with Samuel Pepys, as well as his pivotal role in the opening up of Canada.
Rupert starts off as a baby, being tossed into the last royal carriage fleeing his parents’ vanquished capital, and ends up as one of the most important people in England – a battered veteran at sea in the louche world of Restoration England.
I’m returning to Chalke Valley to share an astonishing life with an audience that loves History – and I can’t wait!
Charles Spencer obtained his degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a reporter on NBC’s Today Show from 1986 until 1995, and is the author of several books, including Sunday Times bestseller Blenheim: Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year at the 2005 National Book Awards), Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier, Killers of the King and To Catch a King: Charles II’s Great Escape.