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An actor portraying King Louis XIV in Royal Kill List

Recap: 5 most dramatic moments from the final episode of 'Royal Kill List'

It's time to take a look back at the most dramatic moments from the third and final episode of Royal Kill List. The explosive documentary-drama detailed Charles II's lifelong obsession to hunt down the men responsible for his father's death.

Image: Louis XIV of France | Royal Kill List

Royal Kill List is an explosive new documentary-drama series that tells the story of one of the most turbulent periods in British history. It lays bare the life of Charles II when he returned to England after a decade in exile to avenge his father’s death by hunting down the Regicides responsible.

Featuring dramatic reconstructions and storytelling from three of Britain’s finest actors – Sheila Atim, Jared Harris and Joseph Fiennes – the series has been must-watch television throughout March.

The third and final episode has aired on Sky HISTORY with the culmination of Charles II’s tussle for absolute power. Sky and Virgin customers can watch the whole series on demand now.

Here are the five most dramatic moments from the last episode of Royal Kill List.

1. ‘A spot of hunting is in order’

Actors portraying Barbara Villiers and Charles II
Image: Barbara Villiers (L) and Charles II (R) | Royal Kill List

In a bid to solve his financial problems, Charles II agreed to marry Catherine of Braganza, a very rich and very Catholic princess from Portugal. The marriage was orchestrated in part by his mistress, Barbara Villiers, and was much more of a strategic union than a romantic one. With the extensive dowry from his new wife, believed to be worth £74 million, Charles thought he could be financially free from Parliament and begin to rule without constraint.

The promise of additional funds also allowed him to let George Downing off his leash and step up the hunt for the remaining Regicides. Downing hired Captain John Reardon, an Irish assassin with a reputation for extreme violence and a personal vendetta against Oliver Cromwell. Kings don’t hire hitmen, but Charles was growing more desperate for results. Reardon hunted down Regicide George Lisle and murdered him in the Swiss countryside – an illegal assassination on foreign soil in the name of the King.

2. Dodgy deals

Actors portraying Louis XIV (L) and Algernon Sidney (R)
Image: Louis XIV (L) and Algernon Sidney (R) | Royal Kill List

In exchange for the three Regicides who were previously extradited from The Netherlands for execution, Charles promised a lucrative trade deal with the Dutch. However, he failed to uphold his side of the bargain. For Charles, being King of England was never enough. He wanted to be one of the most powerful leaders in the world – like his cousin, Louis XIV of France – and therefore wasn’t going to bow down to anyone.

Rebuffed by the King, the Dutch instead moved to team up with Edmund Ludlow and Algernon Sidney, the latter of whom was particularly keen for them to invade England and start a new republic. Ludlow was more sceptical of the deal and also wanted the Dutch to apologise for betraying his Regicide comrades. Sidney also made a deal with Louis XIV, the most feared man in Europe and a devout Catholic who represented everything Ludlow despised. Louis offered his support to the rebellion effort, which then had backing from two of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.

3. Charles II vs The Dutch

Actors portraying Charles II (L) and James, Duke of York (R)
Image: Charles II (L) and James, Duke of York (R) | Royal Kill List

Under the leadership of Cromwell, England became a military superpower but one that had always been punching well above its weight. As England teetered on the edge of war once more with the Dutch, Edward Hyde, Charles II’s chief advisor, was worried that any form of conflict would expose their frailties. However, Charles was blinded in his pursuit of absolute power. He banned Dutch sailors from entering English ports and gave English sailors the right to act like pirates so they could attack and loot Dutch ships. In doing so, he poured English money and naval power into the transatlantic slave trade.

On 4th March 1665, Charles declared war on the Dutch. After initially having early success, he ordered his ships to return home as he believed the threat was over. However, the Dutch then launched a devastating attack, destroying the fleet, capturing Charles’ flagship and landing on English soil just 50 miles from London. It was the biggest humiliation in British military history.

4. The fall of the rebellion

Actor portraying Louis XIV praying at an altar
Image: Louis XIV | Royal Kill List

The relationships between Ludlow and Sidney began to get increasingly frayed. Ludlow and his wife Elizabeth were unsure about all of the deals that Sidney was making with enemy countries, especially France, and how they would be perceived by civilians back in England. Eventually, Ludlow refused to act as Sidney's Cromwell, not wanting to be a military dictator without the support of the people.

Without Ludlow, the French and Dutch support for the movement evaporated. They were never really interested in deposing Charles, they just wanted to weaken him. Louis XIV, described as ‘the ultimate puppet master’, just wanted to manipulate his enemies against one another and cause as much chaos as possible. And that’s exactly what he did.

5. The end

Actor portraying Charles II
Image: Charles II | Royal Kill List

Meanwhile, it transpired that Catherine of Braganza’s dowry never arrived in England. Charles had control of Tangier and Bombay, two global trading hubs that served as the basis of the future British Empire, but he desperately needed the money. Instead of turning to Parliament again, he went to Louis and made a secret deal. Charles was flush with cash but was essentially ruling England as a paid agent of France. He didn’t care though, his ego was more important.

Charles prorogued Parliament and it never sat again during his lifetime. He ruled England as an absolute monarch, one of the main goals he had been fighting for the whole time.

After decades of fighting, Charles II had Algernon Sidney executed for treason in 1683 over the contents of a book he’d written calling on the government for a revolution. Charles died himself of illness two years later. Although the hunt for the Regicides died with him, those who survived lived out the rest of their lives in fear.

The Stuarts were overthrown by Parliament a few years later and replaced by a constitutional monarch from Holland, the one thing that Charles always feared. Edmund Ludlow outlived the Stuart dynasty and the ideas about the English Republic that he wrote in his memoirs underpin the constitutional monarchy we have to this day.

All episodes of Royal Kill List are available on demand now to Sky and Virgin customers.