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King Charles II

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  436 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
London published Biography
Hardcover, 540 pages
Published November 9th 1989 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson (first published 1979)
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King Charles II may be the most “high and low” monarch in England’s history. Meaning, he suffered terribly with the beheading of his father, Civil War, exile, and the Great Fire. On the upside, he was restored and enjoyed courtly pleasures and mistresses. Antonia Fraser illuminates this ‘Merry Monarch’ in, “Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration”.

In traditional Fraser style, “Royal Charles” begins on a slow note in respect to the text featuring the surrounding atmosphere of Charles’s yout
Jamie Collins
A very readable biography of a fascinating king, and a decent introduction to the politics and religious issues of the Restoration period.

The mini-series Charles II: The Power and the Passion (heavily edited and renamed The Last King in the US) appears to have been influenced by this book - Rufus Sewell mentions that he used the book as his guide for his portrayal of Charles. I enjoyed the series, although it's VERY annoying that an hour of footage appears to have been cut from the US version.
Karen Brooks
Feb 03, 2016 Karen Brooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a literary accomplishment to write a detailed and well-researched biography so that it reads like a rollicking piece of great fiction. Antonia Fraser’s, King Charles II is, like her other fabulous historical non-fiction works, such a book. In this wonderful and erudite tome, she tells the tale of a monarch who, against a backdrop of religious, political and cultural upheaval, dissent and change, rises above the conditions of his early childhood and the untimely and savage death of his fath ...more
Frederick Gault
A jolly good read! At a time when England was discovering tea, science, government and banking, Charles II lead a life out of a fairy tale. His father beheaded, his kingdom siezed, Charles was a warrior prince, a pauper in exile after a daring escape from England and finally, unexpectedly returned to his throne to open the golden age of The Restoration. A more extraordinary life cannot be imagined; a wise ruler, a loving father, a decent husband (despite his notorious mistresses and swarm of bas ...more
Jul 02, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very readable account of King Charles II. The ins and outs of British Royalty and politics can be hard to follow but the book lays it out pretty well. King Charles is a very interesting historical personage. If you want to understand English history, this is a great book. Antonia Fraser is a very good author.
May 22, 2012 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow Wow Wow What a good book. The life of Charles II, mostly his political life. She definitely downplays the more sensational aspects. But that's okay, because presumably everyone already knows from all the other books. Very well done, I'm in tears here mourning Charlie's passing.
Nov 02, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the start of this book Antonia Fraser quotes Queen Victoria, who once said of Charles II that for all of his moral failings, she considered him the most attractive of her predecessors. From the evidence in these pages Fraser clearly agrees with that view, and frankly so do I. History has remembered Charles as the 'Merry Monarch' and his Restoration court as a riotous affair, populated with mistresses, actresses, prostitutes and rakes, charlatans, con-artists, ne-er-do-wells and illegitimate o ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Lindz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Restoration England
Sometimes fact can be more interesting than fiction.

Charles Stuart, born a Prince, he had the whole word at his feet. Unfortunately his father Charles I was not the fantastic politician you would expect from the King of England, and lost his head to Oliver Cromwell. Charles II was forced into exile, and had to wait till England wanted it Monarchy back.

Charles II was known as the Merry Monarchy. Constantly celebrating, patronising the theatre (and many of its actresses), horse racing, poetry, art
Oct 14, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything you ever wanted or needed to know about Charles II of England, complete with pictures. Very interesting tome along with much detail about the King who ruled England from 1660-1685. Mary Queen of Scots great grandson was an avid sportsmen, gardener and scientist..this King is a fascinating figure. Supporting the building of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, a steady topic of diarist Samuel Pepys and a patron of Christopher Wren who rebuilt London after the Great Fire of 1666; this Ki ...more
Aug 18, 2012 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up while rooting about in a second-hand bookshop for 3.50, at that price it was definitely worth a punt. Having recently watched and been fascinated by Lucy Worsley's series "Harlots, Housewives and Heroines" I wanted to learn more about the period both pre and post restoration, so what better place to start than with a biography of the key monarch. To begin with I'll echo what the majority of other reviews I've come across have said, which is that Fraser has a very accessible writ ...more
Kirsten Hivon
Unfortunately I was dissapointed with this book, especially considering that Charles 2nd is one of my favourite monarchs. I thought this book would be like Marie Antoinette, about his personal life and what life was like around the palace and how he reacted to things on a personal level, like Marie Antoinette was. Some of it was like that but mostly it was politics and conspiracies which I'm not all that fond of. It took me almost a month to get halfway, I put it down for awhile but the thought ...more
May 20, 2013 Dutch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this book...but it took me a long time to finish. It is dense in every sense of the word but is because of the sheer amount of information presented that makes for a slow, if engrossing, read. Ms. Fraser's research was exhaustive to say the least. Charles II was a fascinating individual who overcame very much in his formative year. I would have liked the opportunity to meet him...350 years ago.
Charles II was born while his father was still king of England, but before he was fully grown England had revolted. First Charles I was dethroned, and then he was beheaded. Charles II spent his youth in exile, often narrowly escaping capture, always indebted to others. The constant danger and espionage turned him from a hot-headed prince into a tightly controlled man.

review tbc
Not as good as some of Fraser's other biographies. Lots of detail, but Charless II himself remains elusive. Also, Fraser assumes the reader has knowledge of 17th century politics and political figures, so this is not a good read for someone who is not too familiar with Restoration England.
LOVE antonia fraser! this was a great read. i knew very little about the restoration and charles II. finished reading cromwell by antonia fraser and mary, queen of scots (by same author) before that, so this was a nice ending to a 'home-made trilogy'.
Jul 04, 2012 Allen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles II was an interesting character, and this was an interesting read. The political machinations in Restoration England can be a little difficult to follow though, particularly as people's names keep changing as they are granted new titles.
I tried this but didn't finish it because I didn't understand enough of the time period to follow. I think I will try again once I get to the Stuarts.
Not a bad book, but one showing it's age.

Well worth a read if you don't know much about Charles II.
Jan 07, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think just maybe this Charles is my favorite King of England. What lives these people led!
Dec 07, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very detailed and readable. Enjoyed it amazed by Antonia's detail
Carol Storm
Sep 23, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was ok
Basically Charles II is much more fascinating than this book.
Jul 03, 2010 Gaile rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I just couldn't seem to get into this book! It bored me.
Craig Bolton
Royal Charles by Antonia Fraser (1979)
Allison Thurman
Gaby marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2016
margaret turford
margaret turford rated it it was amazing
Oct 18, 2016
Glenanne marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
Donna Scott
Donna Scott marked it as to-read
Oct 17, 2016
Denise marked it as to-read
Oct 15, 2016
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
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“Though Charles II both craved and enjoyed female companionship till the end of his life, there is no question that by the cold, rainy autumn of 1682 his physical appetites had diminshed considerably. The Duchess of Portsmouth was, after all, more than twenty years his junior; and there comes a time in nearly every such relationship when the male partner is simply unable to fully accommodate the female partner. Or as Samuel Pepys tartly noted in his diary, "the king yawns much in council, it is thought he spends himself overmuch in the arms of Madame Louise, who far from being wearied, seems fresher than ever after sporting with the king.” 2 likes
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