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Prince Rupert of the Rhine


This portrait of Rupert (1619-82) is attributed to the Dutch artist, Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656). Son of King Charles’ sister, Elizabeth of Bohemia (1596-1662), and older brother of Prince Maurice (1620-52), Rupert entered army service in his early teens, fighting in The Thirty Years War. He was Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Horse in the first years of the Civil War, and later appointed General of the Royalist forces in November 1644. After the Royalist defeat at Naseby in 1645, his decision to surrender the garrison of Bristol to Parliament in the same year greatly upset his uncle, and provided fodder for Rupert’s enemies in Council, such as Digby. Following a series of heated events, the King was reconciled with Rupert and his brother, although they resigned from his service. With the fall of Oxford in 1646, Parliament exiled both royal nephews. Rupert fought later in the service of Louis XIV against Spain, and against the English Parliament’s navy as a privateer in the Caribbean. With the Restoration, he returned to England and pursued a range of interests as wide as his talents, in the sciences, arts and exploration, before his death there. He was the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company; Prince Rupert, and Rupert’s Land in Canada are named after him.

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