One of my frustrations with my 17th-century British history field has been the accessibility of the writing. My professor is very focused on English politics, and it's a bit difficult to get into the field if you aren't already expert. The surveys are the size of cinder blocks and as clear as mud, while monographs are hyper-specialized. Since I am an ignorant American, I'm still figuring out basic stuff like "How is Parliament elected?" and "Why does everyone have four different names?" and can get a bit lost in the details of voting supply.
Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms to anyone who finds herself in a similar boat. While derided by my professor as "airport reading," I found it very helpful for nailing down the chronology and the major players of the period. Harris also does a little *gasp* social history, which helped me to embed the political narrative in a richer context.
Harris has three fundamental arguments: 1) the populace was politically aware, politically literate, and engaged with issues of national politics; 2) it is necessary to put the Restoration in the context of the three kingdoms because of the problem of multiple kingdoms; 3) the real revolution in England was the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9.
Even if it is a Penguin paperback, this book is not slight. At 400+ pages, it is merely the first half of Harris' project — a second volume of similar length will cover the reign of James II and the Glorious Revolution. Still, I would rather read 400 pages of Harris than 400 pages of Woolrych or Collinson any day.
Thanks for the rec! My knowledge of the Restoration is entirely from plays. I've studied the 16th and 18th centuries but definitely had that gap.
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