How Would Charles I and II (of England) Have Pronounced Their Names?

Would they have pronounced it essentially the same way that the current Prince of Wales does? Or would the vowel/consonant changes be different than the way Received Pronunciation treats them now?

My first off-the-top-of-my-head thought is that the Stuarts came before the Hanoverians, and I have a vague notion that it was the German accents of the Hanoverians that established some of the prominent features of RP, such as non-rhoticism.

My thought is that Shakespeare, who was in late-Tudor, early-Stuart times, was rhotic. So the Charleses Stuart would have had hard “R” sounds.

I suppose it’s possible that the Stuarts had Frenchy accents, but I have no idea what a Frenchy accent would be like in the 17th century.

Charles I of Scotland and England was born in Scotland, at a time when the Scottish upper classes spoke with Scottish accents, as opposed to RP which is a distinctly English accent.

In the present day, Scottish people pronounce the ‘r’ in ‘Charles’ so that it has almost 2 syllables.

I think your hypotheses are sound and are probably right.

Who are you responding to?

Would the CH be as-in-chocolate or would it be a /k/, like it is in the equivalent name in several other languages? (Karl, Carlos, Carlo…)

Could also have been ‘sh’ as in modern French? I don’t know whether 16th-17th French had a hard or soft ‘ch’ at that time.

His mother was French and he spent much of his exile in France. French was commonly spoken by the English nobility, so it seems reasonable that he would have had a pronounced French accent.

Charles II’s was. Charles I’s mother was from Denmark.

He was born in Scotland, but he lived in England from the age of 3, and he was raised by the entirely English Elizabeth Carey, so it’s very unlikely that he had a Scottish accent.

Charles I moved to England at the age of 3, when his father became King of England. While he was probably influenced by some Scottish-English speakers, including his father, and by his Danish mother, most of the people around him as he grew up were English.

That’s actually not at all reasonable. Charles II was already sixteen when he went into exile and, of the following fourteen years, only about five of them were spent by him in France. He spent almost as long in the Spanish Netherlands and he also had extended stays in Holland and Germany. Moreover, most of the time he was living with other British exiles. Some of those exiles could speak fluent French, but, of course, they spoke English among themselves with native accents.

As for Charles I, that he spoke with a Scottish accent is a well-known piece of trivia and many actors who have played him, including most obviously Alec Guinness, have used one. But his most recent biographer, Leanda de Lisle, is sceptical. At most he might have been a slight inflection, which no one at the time thought worth mentioning.

Much of which was and remains French-speaking and is now part of Belgium; the “Netherlands” of back then do not correspond exactly to the country currently called Netherlands.

I’m of the impression that members of royal families didn’t necessarily pick up languages or accents based upon where they lived, and that the languages and accents primarily used by members of royal families wouldn’t necessarily be linked to the accents and languages of regional nobles.

So I’m not sure whether the following really would tell us a lot about how the Stuarts sounded when they spoke

  • Upper-class Scottish people spoke with Scottish accents (which Scottish accents? Do we know what Scottish accents actually sounded like at the time?)
  • The locations in which they lived, because they presumably traveled with a retinue of courtiers whose speech would be more influential on their speech than the speech of the local populace

Obviously. But much of it was and remains Flemish-speaking. And, just as importantly, it had a court ruled over by an Austrian-born Habsburg archduke and a Spanish-born royal bastard.