John Adamson

A Tale of Two Houses

The Long Parliament of Charles II

By

Yale University Press 304pp £30 order from our bookshop

Charles II’s Long Parliament – so named because it met within a year of the Restoration, in 1661, and remained intermittently in session for almost eighteen years – was the cockpit for most, if not quite all, of the great political battles of the reign. Would monarchical power grow in England to match that, across the Channel, of Louis XIV? Might the Church of England one day be supplanted by a triumphalist Roman Catholicism? Could executive power be made answerable to, or even effectively checked by, the ‘representatives of the people’? These questions, and others of equal moment, were debated in the 1660s and 1670s all over England, from rustic alehouses to gentlemen’s clubs to the dining rooms of newly fashionable Piccadilly; but nowhere with greater consequence than in the two Houses of Parliament. For these were the king’s partners in sovereign authority – partners, it frequently seemed, that he was all too anxious to shed; and it was their deliberations alone that could command the coercive power, not just of public opinion, but of statute.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The breadth of Clarke’s knowledge and experience, coupled to a conspicuous absence of pomposity, makes for easy an… ,
    • In this month's Silenced Voices, Lucy Popescu shines a light on Myanmar's persecution of writers and journalists, p… ,
    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,