Cover image for Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Hutton, Ronald.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
xii, 554 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
DA446 .H93 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This is the first scholarly biography of the king who is remembered by the English with more popular affection than almost any other. Covering his entire life, it takes in his colourful years as a prince and as an exiled monarch during the Civil War and Interregnum, in addition to his latercareer as effective ruler of three kingdoms. A unique feature of Ronald Hutton's authoritative study is the attention given to Charles's reign over Scotland and Ireland, as well as England, giving us the first united history of the British Isles in this period. The work is based throughout on all the known surviving sources, some of which have never been used before. This lively and comprehensive biography fills an important gap in Stuart historiography, and will be indispensable to anyone interested in the period.

Author Notes

Ronald Hutton is at University of Bristol.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The hapless Stuart dynasty featured plenty of colorful though not necessarily superior monarchs during the centuries it held sway over Scotland and, later, the rest of the British Isles. Common historiographical opinion has it that Charles II, son of the deposed and beheaded Charles I, was an affable, even charming individual while only a passably good king. Hutton's biography of this seventeenth-century ruler corroborates the accepted wisdom. Only 18 years old when his father was forced to mount the scaffold and the Cromwellian republic proclaimed, Charles lived precariously in exile for many years. Eventually tiring of puritanical republicanism, the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland opened their doors to a restored monarchy under Charles II. The conclusion Hutton draws of Charles' reign is that he possessed "a set of strongly marked characteristics with a cold void at the center of them." Charles Stuart's life makes for fascinating reading, and Hutton does the story to a luminescent turn. References, notes; index. --Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

Hutton, an accomplished scholar of 17th-century Britain, has produced the first scholarly biography of Charles II. It is a chronological treatment of the King's life firmly based on original documents. Cutting through the tangle of legends surrounding the ``Merry Monarch,'' this biography paints a complex and convincing portrait. Charles II is shown in all his contradictory aspects: charming to acquaintances but ultimately chilling to long-time associates, brave in crisis but not steady in his policies. Any college or public library will want to buy this well-written study of an important and fascinating figure. It nicely complements Antonia Fraser's excellently researched and beautifully written popular biography Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration (LJ 11/15/79). BOMC main selection.-- Ronald Fritze, Lamar Univ., Beaumont, Tex. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Hutton's outstanding biography of Charles II will satisfy professional historians and general readers alike. The former will appreciate its firm scholarly foundation, its treatment of the three kingdoms over which the king reigned, and its provocative revisionist interpretations. The latter will enjoy the book's pace, style, and telling phrases. Hutton, one of Britain's leading Stuart historians, portrays a monarch who was a mass of contradictions. Charles was a moral coward, yet physically brave; lazy, yet hyperactive; courteous to all his subjects, yet overwhelmingly selfish. At the end of 458 pages, however, this essentially lucky man emerges as an enigma. At times the author seems reluctant to analyze Charles's character with the verve and self-confidence he applies to the events of Charles's reign. Hutton eschews borrowing from the techniques of the social sciences, which might have helped him better understand the contradictions of this fascinating womanizer. Or could it be that Charles II, like most interesting people, had a personality that cannot be pinned down with any degree of certainty? Highly recommended for university, college, and public libraries. -C. Carlton, North Carolina State University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgementsp. xi
Illustrationsp. xiv
I Boyhoodp. 1
2 The Exiled Prince of Walesp. 15
3 A King in Search of a Realm, 1649-1650p. 34
5 A King in Search of Quarters, 1651-1656p. 71
6 The Pensioner of Spain, 1656-1660p. 100
7 The Year of Restoration, 1660-1661p. 133
8 The Fight for the Settlements, 1661-1664p. 166
10 The Ministry of Arlington, 1688-1672p. 254
11 Charles's Second Dutch War, 1672-1674p. 287
12 The End of King Louis's War, 1674-1678p. 320
13 Collapse of a System, 1678-1679p. 357
14 The Quest for Men and Measures, 1679-1681p. 381
15 Towards a New Way of Ruling, 1681-1685p. 404
16 Conclusion: Monarch in a Masqueradep. 446
Referencesp. 459
Notesp. 461
Indexp. 543