Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Duke of Cumberland, Earl of Holderness (German: Ruprecht Pfalzgraf bei Rhein, Herzog von Bayern), commonly called Prince Rupert of the Rhine, was a noted German soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist.
Rupert was a younger son of the German prince Frederick V, Elector Palatine and his wife Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of James I of England. Thus Rupert was the nephew of King Charles I of England, who made him Duke of Cumberland and Earl of Holderness, and the first cousin of the heir presumptive James Duke of York. His sister was Electress Sophia of Hanover.
Prince Rupert had a varied career. He was a soldier from a young age, fighting against Spain in the Netherlands during the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), and against the Holy Roman Emperor in Germany during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48). Aged 23, he was appointed commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War, becoming the archetypal Cavalier of the war and ultimately the senior Royalist general. He surrendered after the fall of Bristol and was banished from England (1646). He served under Louis XIV of France against Spain, and then as a Royalist privateer in the Caribbean. Rupert is considered to have been a quick-thinking and energetic cavalry general, but ultimately undermined by his youthful impatience in dealing with his peers during the Civil War. Rupert continued the conflict against Parliament by sea from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean (1648-1653), showing considerable persistence in the face of adversity.
As the head of the British Navy in his later years, he showed greater maturity and made impressive and long-lasting contributions to the British Navy's doctrine and development. As a colonial governor, Rupert shaped the political geography of modern Canada—Rupert's Land was named in his honour. He also played a role in the early African slave trade.
Rupert's varied and numerous scientific and administrative interests combined with his considerable artistic skills made him one of the more colourful individuals of the early period of consolidation of the Commonwealth.
Return to England
In August 1660 the port of Dover received the unexpected visit and surrender of Prince Rupert. Having quarreled with the Royalist court in exile and wandering in Germany and Central Europe. Rupert was tired with being an outcast of the exiled Royal Court and not enjoying the trust of Charles II. Having no resource at hand and being only with himself. However the surrender was negotiated forehand by Thurloe with the consent of Henry Cromwell.
Prince Rupert was held in custody to London, with crowds coming in the route either to salute or look on curiosity. The Protector and State Council received Prince Rupert and questioned him on his intentions. While still in custody he was presented to the court magistrates for a trial. A public oath of engagement to the Commonwealth was resolved and a financial penalty. So in late August before the Protector, the State Council, members of the House of Commons and Senate and general public Prince Rupert declared his alliance to the Commonwealth.
On returning to the Commonwealth, he become a senior British naval commander, engaging in scientific invention, art, and serving as the first governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.