The interregnum

How Charles II sought to obliterate a decade of British history

When the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy, in the person of that ‘lovely black boy’ Charles II, was announced in May 1660 it was with a flourish of public amnesia. Charles had, it was declared, already been king for 11 years, from the moment in January 1649 when his father had been unlawfully executed. Such acts of contrived forgetting were not unprecedented in English history. William the Conqueror effaced Harold’s short reign from the records and Henry VII did much the same for Richard III. But 11 years was ambitious. And this forgetting would be expected not of people on whose daily lives the great affairs of state barely impinged,