A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
At Christmas I realised that amongst that approximately 10 books I had either taken away with me to read or been given on the day, 80% were essay collections, mostly focused on science.
So I decided to move onto history this year, mostly through biography. Approaching the history of science through the lives of people worked well for me last year, so I’m kicking off with the period around the establishment of the Royal Society, following up Lisa Jardine’s ‘A glorious pursuit’ and Richard Holmes’s...more
On 25 May 1660, Charles II arrived at Dover, disembarking in front of cheering crowds. On his thirtieth birthday, 29 May 1660, he entered London. Charles had been invited home to England by parliament, thus beginning the ‘restoration’ of the monarchy after eleven years of republican rule. In this book, Jenny Uglow focuses on the first ten years of his reign, u...more
It was interesting to see how much of Grammont formed some of the courtly anecdotes. The chapter about the theatre and ho ...more
So Jenny Uglow takes a different approach in ‘A Gambling Man’. The book is indeed a biography of the Merry Monarch, but it focuses on the crucial first ten years of...more
Obviously, I'm still not a fan of the Stuarts, but I came away understanding much more about Restoration culture -- from the bloody purges of the Tyrannicide trials, to the chaos of court debaucheries, to the wars with the Dutch. Charles comes across as calculating, conniving, and truly masterful at manipulation -- at the same time, he wa ...more
He also returned determined NOT to become involved in any religious persecution, which he was unable to uphold. When it came to running the country,Parliament held most of the cards and it seems he ha ...more
For a book with a relatively narrow scope (the reign of Charles II until he dissolved Parliament for the last time), the book nonetheless feels perfunctory in a lot of pla ...more
The book focuses on the decade after the Restoration in 1660. What came before and after these ten years is only lightly sketched, with the remainder of Charles II's reign being polished off rapidly in the last dozen pages. I found that this approach worked better at the beginning than it did at the en ...more
Written in an almost-novel style, with sudden reveals such as botched executions or double crossings, Uglow has an exciting style that builds with tantalising pace. Charles II's dual per ...more
Unglow shows how monarchical and parliamentarian interests were not always aligned and how Charles II used what prerogatives he had and tried to expand them. He charts his own course, for instance, to decrease his reliance on Parliament for funds, he makes a treaty with is cousin, the King of France, that brings him a pens ...more
I especially loved the secret contract with France - only discovered hundreds of years later. And the treble-cross after one of his adversaries 'persuaded' him to try and implement .. just exactly the same secret contract he'd alread ...more
I enjoyed the use of lines from Restoration poetry and plays, and illustrations from contemporary playing cards, all used to re-create the largely overlooked time period.
But, Uglow's writing was often difficult to follow in this book. Especially with the frequent name changes, it was tough to remember who was who, and Uglow didn't provide many hints to jog the reader's memory. ...more
This great grandson of the executed Mary, Queen of Scots and son of the executed Charles I was invited to take the throne following the Interregnum.
Known as the Merry Monarch, his court was a den of hedonism, his subjects loving his looseness after the puritan Cromwellian prot ...more
But it's a good portrait of Charles II as an individual. He comes across as a relatively sympathetic (for a monarch of that time), ...more