An intelligent and spirited history of Charles II's dissolute life and surprising legacy, by two veteran historians.
To refer to the private life of Charles II is to abuse the adjective. His personal life was anything but private. His amorous liaisons were largely conducted in royal palaces surrounded by friends, courtiers and literally hundreds of servants and soldiers. Gossip radiated throughout the kingdom.
Charles spent most of his wealth and his intellect on gaining and keeping the company of women, from the lowest sections of society such as the actress Nell Gwyn to the aristocratic Louise de Kérouaille. Some of Charles' women played their part in the affairs of state, coloring the way the nation was run.
The authors take us inside Charles' palace, where we will meet court favorites, amusing confidants, advisors jockeying for political power, mistresses past and present as well as key figures in his inner circle such as his 'pimpmasters' and his personal pox doctor.
The astonishing private life of Charles II reveals much about the man he was and why he lived and ruled as he did. The King's Bed tells the compelling story of a king ruled by his passion.
In this balanced narrative, Jordan and Walsh (White Cargo) contextualize the reign of Charles II (1630 1685) in light of his numerous mistresses, arguing that his aversion to conflict allowed them to influence policy, helped bankrupt the country, and nearly resulted in subjugation to France's Louis XIV. The restoration of the "Merry Monarch" ushered in a frivolous, sex-saturated, court-led 17th-century sexual revolution that shocked many, but also reassured a country that was weary of religious stridency after the execution of the king's Catholic father and Charles's own exile during the Commonwealth. Solid research and wry observations neatly augment the chronological narrative, although the unflattering and simplistic description of actress Moll Davis suffers from too much reliance on one source (Samuel Pepys, an ardent admirer of her rival Barbara Palmer). Jordan and Walsh also struggle with miscarriage and stillbirth terminology in their discussion of the infertile queen, but excel in describing the king's unusual willingness to claim and promote many of his illegitimate children. With the fully developed fleshing out of Charles and four of his primary mistresses, the authors provide authentic insight on how salacious sex and the pursuit of pleasure ruled a troubled king. Illus.