A Royal Patent is a type of legal document issued by a monarch, usually granting a title, right or office. In this particular Patent, Charles II decided to have an engraving of himself included. While this is artistically attractive and impressive, its primary purpose is to act as a visual reminder of his royal legitimacy and authority as king.
To further reinforce the institution of monarchy, the royal coat of arms of England can be seen in the centre top of the document, with ‘Dieu et mon Droit’ written underneath, meaning ‘God and my right’. This poignant statement reaffirms Charles’s birth-right to the throne, following years of exile on the continent in Europe. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, England’s royal arms were quartered with those of Scotland to represent the Union of the two Crowns; the first time this took place in English history. From 1649 to the restoration of the monarchy, the royal coat of arms had been appropriated by the Commonwealth of England and were stripped of its royal associations.
In the Eton College Archives, we have several surviving documents that record King Charles II’s involvement with the College. This Royal Patent pertains to the ordinance of Archbishop Laud, an influential clergyman who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 until his execution by the Long Parliament in 1645; his church reforms and promotion of Episcopalianism made him particularly unpopular with the religiously nonconformist parliamentarians. Upon the king’s restoration to the throne in 1660, many of the policies passed under Laud’s tenure were revived. For example, in the Statues: Vice Provost’s Books, there was a petition by Charles II to the Provost of Eton and the fellows of King’s College Cambridge requesting that Archbishop Laud’s mandate on the election of Kingsmen as fellows be observed. This was accepted, and we have a letter dated the 26th November 1679 with a signed manual of the king ordering that Laud’s mandate should be strictly observed. This demonstrates that in the decades following Laud’s execution and the Cromwellian republic, his influence in policy was still being recognised and legally enforced.
Also mentioned in the Statues: Vice Provost’s Books is an Oath of Allegiance to Charles II from the College. The first parliament after the restoration revived the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, which were taken on 14 July 1660. In 1644, a new Provost of the College was appointed, the Puritanical Francis Rous. He was devoutly loyal to the parliamentarian cause and became the Speaker of the House of Commons in the ‘Barebones’ Parliament of 1653. Following Rous’s death around 1658/59, the newly appointed Provost, Nicholas Lockyer, served a short tenure as he resigned from his post in 1660 due to Charles II’s return to power. Soon after, Charles appointed his replacement, Nicholas Monk. The latter was a suitable candidate for the king’s moderate approach to religion, as he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Hereford in 1660. Following this, many of Eton’s Puritan fellows resigned or were ejected, and new regulations were drawn up by the new Provost and fellows, with Monk receiving £500 a year, besides wood, capons, 20 dozen of candles, and 20 loads of hay. 
Another interesting document is a letter written by Lord Arlington on behalf of the king, dated 25th June 1674, to the College requesting the Provost and fellows to place Edmund Barber (King’s Scholar) first on the roll for King’s College, Cambridge.
The letter states:
‘in this first place and preferably to all others, to elect him the said Edmund Barber from that our said School to King’s College in our University of Cambridge’.
Some of the following terminology is quite persuasive, as Arlington continues:
‘wherein we cannot but expect your ready compliance, considering the capacity and forward hopes this youth is to be of’.
The letter is signed by the king and finishes with ‘by his maj command’, written in Arlington’s handwriting. The Protocollum Books held in King’s College Cambridge’s Archives, which record the admissions of scholars and fellows, reveal that Barber was on the list for entry in 1674. Additionally, he went on to become a fellow at King’s in 1677; evidently, the king’s lobbying worked!
By Alexander Taylor, Archives Assistant
1. Milton, A. Laud, William. (1573 – 1645). Dictionary of National Biography.
 Statutes: Vice-Provost’s Book, f.44, [ECR 60 01 02 Eton Collections | ECR 60 01 02 (etoncollege.com)]
 Ibid, f.44v. Letter to confirm Laud’s mandate.
 Ibid, f.41. Oath of Allegiance to Charles II.
 Smith, A. Monk or Monck, Nicholas (1610 – 1661). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
 Letter from Charles II ordering the Electors to place Edmund Barber KS first on the roll for King’s College, 25 June 1674. [ECR 60 10 04 06 01 Eton Collections | ECR 60 10 04 06 01 (etoncollege.com)]
 With special thanks to the Assistant Archivist at King’s College Cambridge for making us aware of this and providing images from these documents.