Seasoned biographer Ollard (Pepys, The Image of the King: Charles I and II, etc.) once again returns to the 18th century,...


CLARENDON: And His Friends

Seasoned biographer Ollard (Pepys, The Image of the King: Charles I and II, etc.) once again returns to the 18th century, this time offering a meticulous study of statesman and historian Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. A study in Tory virtues, Clarendon remained a true-blue monarchist even when the going got tough and downright parliamentarian, supporting Charles I during the English civil war (1642-48) and, following Charles I's beheading, joining Charles II in exile. He's now remembered as the author of History of the Rebellion, and for the Clarendon Code, a cluster of laws passed after the Restoration that were intended to strengthen the position of the Church of England. Ollard's very precise portrait reveals a gregarious royalist with connections spreading throughout the upper echeleons of English society (his daughter Anne married James II), a man who rose to prominence as Lord Chancellor when the Restoration brought the exiled court back to England. Above all else, Ollard presents a loyalist mind at work, and the author sees in him a political tradition still operative in British culture: a reverence for law and order, and a belief that enlightened self-interest is not an adequate measure of the common good. So even though Clarendon didn't approve of Charles II's personal behavior on every level, he did respect Charles' right to the throne, and made personal and financial sacrifices for a king who would later remove him from his position as Lord Chancellor. Drawing on Clarendon's copious correspondence, Ollard's study in the trajectory of one monarchist's career offers a firsthand view of Charles I and II, and James II, and the exiled Stuart court. Of interest to connoisseurs of the period, but Ollard's cramped and punctilious approach won't gain him much ground among a wider audience.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1987