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Catherine of Braganza
b.25 Nov 1638
d.31 Dec 1705
Facts and Events
Catherine of Braganza (; 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II. Catherine was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house in Portugal which became Portugal's royal house after Catherine's father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV, after deposing the House of Habsburg, in 1640.
Owing to her devotion to the Roman Catholic beliefs in which she had been raised, Catherine was an unpopular consort for Charles II. She was the 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 a design to poison the king. These charges, of which the absurdity 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 Commons passed an address for her removal and that of all the Roman Catholics from Whitehall. A series of fresh depositions were sent in against her, and in June 1679 it was decided that she must stand her trial; but she was protected by the king, who in this instance showed unusual chivalry and earned her gratitude.
Catherine suffered three miscarriages and as a result, she did not produce any heirs. Her husband kept many mistresses, most notably Barbara Palmer, who was appointed as her Lady of the bedchamber. He fathered numerous illegitimate offspring by his mistresses which he acknowledged.
She was credited for introducing the custom of drinking tea in Britain, a custom that was already very popular among the Portuguese nobility.