University of Bath

Charles II and royal biography

Dr Clare Jackson from the University of Cambridge will explore the life of Charles II.

8 Nov 20175.15pm
8 Nov 20176.15pm

Charles II is one of England's most instantly recognisable monarchs: flowing dark ringlets and sumptuous Cavalier costume renders his distinctive image a byword for the Restoration's flamboyant court culture, lascivious lifestyle and theatrical productions.

Charles II was, however, also an individual who experienced traumatic upheaval in his early life and, during the civil wars, saved his life precisely by disguising his royal majesty and posing as a humble servant. Spending more than a decade in foreign exile during the Cromwellian republic of the 1650s, Charles became an instinctively guarded and secretive political operator, later described by Gilbert Burnet as having 'the greatest art of concealing himself of any man alive'.

This lecture considers Charles II's consummate capacity for performance in the light of the brief attached to the Penguin Monarchs series: to write 'innovative and provocative histories of Britain's rulers'.