`Sheds considerable new light on the nature, development and functions of the orders in a key phase of their history, and goes a long way to explaining how such archaic institutions could flourish in a culture that is commonly thought anti-traditional and especially hostile to the "middle ages"'. Professor JONATHAN BOULTON, University of Notre Dame.
This is the first comprehensive study to set the British orders of knighthood properly into the context of the honours system - by analysing their political, social and cultural functions from the Restoration of the monarchy to the end of George II's reign. It examines the revival of the Order of the Garter and the proposals to establish the Orders of the Royal Oak and the Esquires of the Martyred King at the Restoration, the foundation  and the revival [1703-4] of the Order of the Thistle as well as the foundation of the Order of the Bath . It establishes just how central a part the orders played in the British high political life and its comprehensive and multidimensional approach carefully contrasts the idealistic discourse of virtue and honour to the real workings of the honours system; it also makes the case for the 'Chivalric Enlightenment'. The 'orders over the water', the Garter and the Thistle conferred by the Jacobite claimants, are discussed for the first time in the context of the established British honours system. Overall, the comparison between the socially very restricted British and the increasingly meritocratic Continental orders highlights the isolation of the British honours system from the European tendencies.