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Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms, 1660-1685 [Kindle Edition]

Tim Harris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The late seventeenth century was a period of extraordinary turbulence and political violence in Britain, the like of which has never been seen since. Beginning with the Restoration of the monarchy after the Civil War, this book traces the fate of the monarchy from Charles II's triumphant accession in 1660 to the growing discontent of the 1680s. Harris looks beyond the popular image of Restoration England revelling in its freedom from the austerity of Puritan rule under a merry monarch and reconstructs the human tragedy of Restoration politics where people were brutalised, hounded and exploited by a regime that was desperately insecure after two decade of civil war and republican rule.

Product Description

About the Author

Tim Harris is Professor of History at Brown University. His previous books include London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II and The Politics of the Excluded.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8360 KB
  • Print Length: 510 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B001E42M8O
  • Publisher: Penguin (26 Jan. 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9EU0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #224,846 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but... 12 May 2011
This is a book of painstaking scholarship, accurate, balanced and logically laid out. It also neatly fills a hole that existed in the analysis of the politics of the reign of Charles II. However, it is very much a "text book" - useful for searching for facts to support an argument in an essay but not a particularly enjoyable read. Some academics have the knack of making even exciting periods of history rather dull, the author of this book appears to be one of this ilk.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 2 Jun. 2009
For some one who is not an academic but a passing observer I found this book an essential read par excellence. It is informative, at times philosophical but most interesting it argues history as well as it reports it.
Combining the three Kingdoms and Charles's II cunning skill in overcoming the political as well as the social and religious obstacles is well reported; bringing to life the true forces working together to ensure his eventual achievment of absolutism.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent piece of scholarship 10 April 2005
This is a much-needed reassessment of politics under the later Stuarts which manages both to include the (usually forgotten) kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland and - perhaps most significantly - to embrace the role of popular politics in the Glorious Revolution.
In essence this work involves a controversial personal statement by Harris who clearly has his own vision of what 1680s politics was all about - affecting ALL the Stuart kingdoms, involving ALL of the subjects of those realms and (most controversially) including a genuine and successful 'Revolution'. Unlike other weaker historians (e.g. David Starkey), however, Harris takes great pains in his introduction to explain and justify his points as well as recognising that other views of the period exist. This means that while one does not always agree with his views (such as over the importance of 1688 compared to 1649) there can be no doubting the rigour and genuine quality of his scholarship.
In particular, in his pleasingly authoritative and engaging style Harris has succeeded in presenting Charles II in a way that followers of TV 'history' and period dramas will find strange - a largely ineffective monarch who was incapable of understanding the bitter and savage nature of Restoration politics and one who was completely out of touch with the majority of the peoples who inhabited his kingdoms. The myth of the 'Merrie Monarch' is thus well and truly dismantled!
This work is a valuable contribution to the study of politics under the later Stuarts and deserves a wide audience. I for one cannot wait for the second volume (out next year)!
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5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite historical period 7 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Written from a different aspect and this was refreshing. A good writing style that had plenty of pace and again made me feel it was only yesterday when Charles was on the throne.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Restoration 7 Mar. 2014
By Zachary W. Schulz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Attempting to analyze the entire Restoration era, historian Tim Harris posits that Charles II is the key to understanding the politics of the period. Indeed, in Restoration: Charles II and his Kingdoms, 1660-1685, Harris argues that Charles was politically active and not paralyzed as Gary S. De Krey suggested. However, Harris accedes that Charles still was unable to exact effective royal control over England, Scotland, and Ireland despite the crown’s best efforts. Explaining this shortcoming, Harris asserts that three factors diminished Charles’ ability to rule. First, Charles inherited a situation fraught with political and religious divisions outside of his control and harkening back to the early 1640s. For example, attempting to unite his kingdoms into one easily manageable entity, Charles sought “to bring the Scottish ecclesiastical settlement into line” with that achieved in England. (p. 133) Ultimately, Charles’ attempted unification of the kingdoms was unsuccessful. Rather than working with the Scottish and Irish to rectify religious issues, Charles attempted to force conformity to a “British agenda” which eroded his credibility, dangerously provoking Dissenters in Scotland and Catholics in Ireland. (p. 133) In short, Charles only succeeded in alienating nonconformists and increasing resistance to his religious reforms and political agenda. (p. 134)

Second, Parliament curtailed Charles’ royal power by limiting his purse, rendering the king unable to finance independent political reforms. Lacking the money to support a professional, independent bureaucracy, Harris writes that Charles was, "Heavily reliant on the cooperation of unpaid agents of the executive (from the lofty Lord Lieutenants to the humble parish constables) to enforce the royal will in localities." (p. 83) Therefore, without effective enforcement of his policies on the ground, Charles found his royal power curtailed. Additionally, to the disadvantage of the crown, when Charles needed funding he was required to call Parliament. This requirement alone meant that “the issues of supply could [not] be kept divorced from redress of grievances,” as the crown had to negotiate with Parliament for funds. (p. 24)

Third, Harris argues that with Charles’ royal prerogative curtailed, the king’s personal prestige suffered. (p. 83) Thus, by 1679-81, the Stuart regime faced a critical situation: the crown could not exact enough political influence to exert effective rule. Despite Charles efforts, the political situation deteriorated in all three kingdoms. In Ireland, Catholics felt dispossessed due to the Parliament of Ireland’s passage of the 1662 Act of Settlement and 1665 Act of Explanation. In Scotland, owing to the Clarendon Code, Presbyterians felt persecuted by the crown for maintaining their faith. (pp. 132-133) Moreover, in England, radical Whigs and Dissenters rallied against the Stuarts, fearing a Catholic future under the duke of York. Thus, Charles inheritance stood in disarray despite his efforts, either suffering from problems outside of the crown’s control or stemming from Charles’ ineptness.

Harris’ monograph is an excellent study which reincorporates Charles into the narrative of the Restoration. For far too long Charles has sat on the side, as historians’ seek to understand the period through radicals, Whigs, Tories, and conspiracies. Thus, by asserting Charles place in the events of the Restoration, Harris has complicated the historiography and granted us a better understanding of the problems facing the Stuart regime.
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