THE KING'S CITY by Don Jordan


A History of London During the Restoration: The City that Transformed a Nation
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A history of the England that Charles II returned to in 1660 when he was restored to the throne.

As Jordan (co-author: The King's Bed: Ambition and Intimacy in the Court of Charles II, 2016, etc.) shows in a lively history of an eventful period, the changes imposed by Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth were mostly erased. Charles wanted nothing to do with the impositions put on the theater, arts, literature, and sciences. When he returned to the throne, his Declaration of Breda set out the terms of the restoration of the monarchy. The restoration agreement didn’t spell out the constitutional arrangement of governance, leaving the way open for Charles to attempt to renew the divine right of the king. The city was ready to throw off Puritan shackles and hoped for a more pro-parliament political stability. More playboy than king, Charles lacked talent in statecraft. It was an age of transformation, and Charles was constantly demanding money to fund his many mistresses and high tastes. This led him and his brother, the Duke of York, into the lucrative slave trade, as well as trade with India, helped along by his wife’s dowry, which included Bombay. It was a desperate time as well. The twin disasters of plague and the great fire destroyed most of the city. The plague took 20 percent of the population, mostly the poor, who had no country houses to offer refuge, and the fire leveled most of London. Given the chance to redesign and rebuild, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, and Peter Mills stepped up with plans at the ready. It was also a great time for discovery. The Royal Society was founded and led by scientists like Newton, Locke, Hobbes, and even Margaret Cavendish. It was the end of Medieval London and beginning of a modern city, with Samuel Pepys recording it all in his diary.

A wonderful picture of 17th-century England, replete with the excitement of ideas and discoveries and the beginnings of the empire.

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-68177-638-5
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Pegasus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2017


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