Constant delights: rakes, rogues, and scandal in Restoration England
After the dark of the puritanical rule of Oliver Cromwell, the Restoration of King Charles II pulled the English nation by its cravat out into the sweetness and light of social liberty. Sex and violence resumed their status as enjoyable pastimes. With cellars full of wine and barrels full of wit, scandal was but a quip away. England was smiling again. With the King setting the pace, the scandal-smiths hit the ground running. Samuel Pepys said that the King "did doat on his women, even beyond all shame." It was the King's lifestyle, his laid-back, easy-going informality that fed the peoples enchantment. However it gave the nod to other courtiers not only to follow suit but more often trump him. And, although a very male-dominated society, women were far from silent: while the goose cooked, the gander sizzled nicely. Given today's preoccupation with sex, celebrity, scandal, drink and violence, it may come as ashock to learn that it isn't anything new. We have seen it all before. And how!
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