Life, death, art and revolution at the Stuart Court

Palaces of Revolution is far more than just a history book.

Based on some 20 years of research and written by ‘one of the best archaeological historians alive’ according to A N Wilson, Palaces of Revolution, Life, Death & Art at the Stuart Court recounts the thrilling history of the troubled and turbulent Stuart dynasty through their royal residences.

However, Thurley does not just draw the line at great palaces – the history of the Stuarts is brought to life through tennis courts, parks, shipyards, fortresses, stables and dog kennels.

From bloody civil war, to the execution of Charles I, family infighting and the extinction of the house as a ruling dynasty, the narrative offers a unique insight into immense family politics and the power struggles which shook Europe.

The author’s knowledge of palaces of the 16th and 17th centuries is unprecedented, elevating the historical survey into an alternative reading of the Stuart Dynasty.

Thurley’s attention to a world beyond the mere bricks and mortar of these incredible buildings means the reader learns how these royal residences were furnished and the symbolism behind each decorative touch.

If you, like me, wander through historical buildings intrigued by the events which have taken place in certain rooms and the personal lives of the people who have lived inside them, one only has to read this book to hear the walls talking.

From secret seductions to fierce fighting, Thurley writes with great detail, invigorating the historical narratives we know and presenting new stories.

The Stuarts’ story is further brought to life through floor plans, colourful illustrations, maps, photographs and ancient artwork.

Perhaps the closest one would get to spending an afternoon perusing a National Trust for Scotland property, without actually setting foot in one.

Palaces of Revolution: Life, Death & Art at the Stuart Court, by Simon Thurley, published by William Collins, £25.

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