Rebranding Rule: The Restoration and Revolution Monarchy, 1660–1714 by Kevin Sharpe - review by Tim Harris

Tim Harris

Picturing Power

Rebranding Rule: The Restoration and Revolution Monarchy, 1660–1714


Yale University Press 849pp £45

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is perhaps a compliment that Kevin Sharpe chose for his front cover the same image I used on the hardback of my Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms, 1660–1685 (2005): the coronation portrait of Charles II by John Michael Wright from circa 1661–2. It is a stunning painting, but whereas mine was cropped so as to focus the viewer’s attention on the crowned head, Rebranding Rule reproduces the entire image of Charles sitting with his legs wide apart, so that ‘the viewer is directed to the royal loins: to the prospect for progeny and dynasty’. It is an insight typical of Sharpe, playful but also highly perceptive – one of many that abound in this engaging study.

As the preface makes clear, Kevin and I were friends; we had recently both ventured into each other’s periods, and we were exchanging work right up until his final illness, though all I saw of Rebranding Rule prior to Kevin’s death was the epilogue, which arrived in an email accompanied

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