I’m currently reading Anna Keay’s The Magnificent Monarch, which contains the following fascinating fact about Charles II use of the ‘Royal Touch’. Keay estimates that Charles touched near on 100,000 subjects for the ‘King’s Evil’ over the course of his reign, meaning that roughly 2% population at the time took part in this ritual. Aside from demonstrating the importance that both king and public attached to the ritual, it’s also a powerful illustration of the degree of contact between the monarch and the people at this point in time. There’s something to think about here in terms of my James II paper, I think. Though the circumstances of James’ captivity in Kent were exceptional, the closeness between king and public was not.
Over here, the BBC have picked up on English Heritage’s competition to find Britain’s worst monarch. It’s gone down to a shortlist of three with Ed II, Mary QoS and George IV all vying for the top spot.
On the comment strand, it’s nice to see that belief in the ‘Norman Yoke’ is alive and well.
“William I. For his illegal invasion of England. For the introduction of feudalism. For the loss of freedoms under Norman oppression. For the introduction of the first national database – doomsday book. Loss of allodial title“
A couple of votes for Charles I, though, personally, I would go for James II as most useless Stuart (dealt a much stronger hand at his accession -packed Parliament, standing army, stronger grip on Ireland and Scotland, relatively healthy royal finances – yet manages to chuck this all away in a mere three years.)
Over at Me and My Big Mouth, the Glorious Stereo Reading Experiment is in full swing. I would like to say that I am wiping the floor with Mr Dillon, but, sadly, it remains a dead heat which will perhaps have to go to the judges for a narrow points decision.
I’m interested in Scott’s comments though about the size of the chapters in my Glorious Revolution book. When I wrote it, I thought that these were as mouth-wateringly light as a sugary syllabub. However, as an academic, I’m used to thinking of 10000-word heavily -footnoted journal articles as accessible and concise ways of getting into meaty subjects.
It’s an important point because the book I am writing on English radicalism is pretty big, 160000 words at present and there are still two more chapters to go. (A fair bit of cutting will need doing, I’m hoping not to turn in a final draft of more than 160k.) The chapters themselves are also currently much more substantial than those in Glorious Revolution, averaging 25000-30000 words.
In light of Scott’s comments (which confirm something I was thinking about anyway), I’m going to need to break these up a good deal into lots of mini-chapters (or mini for me) of about 5-6000 words. That way, I hope readers will be able to take a break, eat some restorative Soreen malt loaf and then come back, refreshed and ready to rejoin the story.
My pages for the BBC’s History website on the Glorious Revolution have finally gone live. Everything that you ever wanted to know about 1688 in about 1500 words.
but not permanently, I hope, by my ‘The Glorious Revolution: Britain’s Fight for Liberty’, which was given this generous review by Publisher’s Weekly.
The book is out in the US in Pegasus hardback on 18 April.