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Episode 1

The Essay, The King Returned Episode 1 of 5

The first of five programmes in which Jonathan Sawday paints a picture of Restoration Britain in five essays: the politics, the science, the culture and the philosophy which made this an extraordinary period of history.

In May 1660 Charles II was invited to return to England and take the throne lost by his beheaded father. A dozen years of Puritan rule were overthrown with a resuming of vigorous cultural life. There was an ebullient outpouring of baroque music, liberated playwriting, scientific progress, stately architecture and courtly entertainment that became known as The Restoration.

But in the 1660s how much was really "restored" of pre-Cromwellian Britain - and how much was actually newly introduced? How much that was restored had really never gone away?

Professor Jonathan Sawday attempts to retell the story of the Restoration in a new way - through five essays, each of which provide a shapshot of cultural and intellectual life.

Caricatured as excessive in today's costume drama, this was a time that was also energetic, experimental and outward looking. From the foundation of the Royal Society, to the construction of St. Paul's, to the new contractual nature of government - this was a period which marks the creation of crucial aspects of modern Britain.

Producer: Hannah Godfrey and Matthew Dodd.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Mon 20 Jun 2011 22:45

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