Melvyn Bragg examines the reign of Charles II and discusses whether the Restoration brought peace and prosperity to England or was an unstable period that culminated in revolution.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Restoration. On 29th May 1660, on his thirtieth birthday, Charles II rode into London on horseback and was restored to the thrones of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland. A ‘golden age’ descended on a people that had been ravaged by civil war, religious division, Cromwellian tyranny and puritanical laws: suddenly the theatres were re-opened, Christmas was celebrated once again, all Orange-sellers were beautiful and peace and prosperity reigned across the land. Or at least that’s one version of the Restoration story. But despite the architecture of Wren, the literature of Dryden, and the philosophy of Hobbes, can an era that is suffused in Plague and in Fire, and culminates in something called The Glorious Revolution, ever really have had it so good?With Dr Mark Goldie, lecturer in History, Churchill College, University of Cambridge; Richard Ollard author of The Image of the King: Charles I and Charles II; Dr Clare Jackson, lecturer and Director of Studies in History, Trinity Hall, Cambridge.