Video: Luxury as Power in Restoration-Era England

Author: Todd Boruff

“Scholars who have worked on Charles II have tended to back away from the sensational side of the Restoration," said Laura Knoppers, professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. “When I come to Charles II, I see that mode of luxury as central to his political power and is essential to the way that that monarchy is representing itself in England.”

Knoppers’ research centers on the 17th century, looking at intersections between literature, visual culture, politics, and religion. She has written extensively on John Milton and since 2010 has served as editor of Milton Studies. Her scholarly edition of Milton’s Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonistes (Oxford, 2008) won the John Shawcross Award from the Milton Society of America.

Her current research project focuses on the representation of the court of King Charles II and responses to that representation. Knoppers is examining the celebrity culture that emerged around the court, which helped to establish the monarchy yet also led to some disapproval.

“Luxury as a mode of political representation is a double-edged sword,” Knoppers said. “In some ways, we have the same ambivalent reaction to luxury today—we are fascinated by it, but on the other hand, it’s precisely that display of luxury and power that draw criticism.”

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published by Todd Boruff at on September 17, 2015.