Barbara villiers

Bullying on Twitter is nothing compared with what Charles II’s mistresses endured

Strolling through Whitehall Palace in the early years of the Restoration, Samuel Pepys was thrilled to spy a washing line displaying ‘the finest smocks and linen petticoats of my Lady Castlemaine’s… and did me good to look upon them’. The owner of the glamorous undergarments was Barbara Villiers, the first of the many maîtresses-en-titre of King Charles II who form the subject of this incisive new study. Linda Porter’s eye for detail is no less acute (though certainly less creepy) than Pepys’s. In her hands the lives and characters of the women who shaped the reputation of the Restoration court emerge as far more discrete and individual than the identikit