On 3 September, 1658, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, died. His son Richard showed himself wholly unsuited to following in his father's footsteps. As one Royalist put it, "the Vulture died, and out of his ashes arose a Titmouse". Many of Cromwell's lieutenants made bids for power. But like a gigantic poker game, as the stakes gradually rose, player after player fell out until there was only one left at the table. It was this gradual whittling away of all viable alternatives that brought Charles II back to his throne. Return of the King is a taut and tightly plotted micro-history, with Charles II weaving his way cannily through the plots and counter-plots in Britain and on the Continent. Largely overlooked, this period saw politics, religion and the army holding Britain in an uneasy and precarious balance. Against the background of attempted military coups, religious fanaticism and political chiselling, Charles FitzRoy paints many telling and colourful details of the tense eighteen months between the death of Cromwell and Charles II's return in 1660.
Lord Charles FitzRoy, son of the Duke of Grafton, is a direct descendant of Charles II via Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland. He read history at Cambridge and now runs a successful travel firm, Fine Art Travel, specialising in cultural tours of Italy. This is his first book.