Adrian Tinniswood

A Heroic Part

A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration


Faber & Faber 592pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘This day his Majesty Charles II came to London after a sad and long exile,’ John Evelyn wrote in his diary on Tuesday 29 May 1660. ‘I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God.’

Not everyone was as delighted as Evelyn to see the monarchy restored. The surviving signatories to Charles I’s death warrant fled abroad, or begged for mercy, or gave themselves up to the King’s vengeance with glad hearts and interminable final speeches from the scaffold. Veterans of the Good Old Cause wondered loudly what it was they’d been fighting for: one ex-soldier swore that if he got hold of Charles he would chop him into tiny pieces ‘as small as herbs in a pot’. Puritans predicted a deluge of divine wrath. An old woman who watched the King’s arrival in London shouted, ‘A pox on all kings!’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,