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Bourbon and Stuart

By John Miller

In the seventeenth century most educated Europeans took it for granted that monarchy was the best form of government. Across Europe, monarchy was the norm, from the kings of England and France in the west, to the tsar of all the Russias in the east. But despite the widespread belief that kings were part of the natural order of things, the mid seventeenth century saw the execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy in England, and a civil war in France which seemed to threaten to overturn the French monarchy.

John Miller’s entertaining and scholarly book is a rare comparison of monarchy in France and England during the seventeenth century, showing the weaknesses which led to civil war in both countries and the resilience which enabled the monarchies to emerge from their respective crises and go from strength to strength in the latter part of the century. This is a highly original work which covers new ground, questions received assumptions and shows the importance of the personalities and abilities of the key characters in influencing the course of events.

Throughout the text, John Miller has included lively and entertaining pen-portraits of the various kings and those most closely associated with them. This colourful background puts key characters of the age into a wider context, and shows clearly how closely the private lives of individual monarchs were related to decision-making.

Above all, this fascinating and wide-ranging account suggests fundamental differences between France and England which explain why the English monarchy recovered from the mid century crisis and still survives today, while the French monarchy came to grief at the Revolution.

Bourbon and Stuart is essential reading for anyone interested in the seventeenth century and the key personalities of the age.

John Miller is Reader in History, Queen Mary College, University of London. His previous books include Popery and Politics in England, 1660-88; The Life and Times of William and Mary; James II: A Study in Kingship and Religion in the Popular Prints, 1600-1832. He is currently working on a biography of Charles II.

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