A Tale of Two Cliffords

Ronald Hutton takes a closer look at Charles II's Secret Treaty of Dover.

On Sunday April 26th this year the telephone rang. It was a man from the BBC, who told me that I was quoted in The Observer that morning. This was remarkable, as I had never spoken to that newspaper. He went on to invite me to his studio in an hour to deliver a live broadcast. Then it dawned upon me: the latest episode in the story of the Clifford Papers had just commenced.

The whole thing began back in 1983, when I finished a book and was settling upon a project for the next. I wanted to try my hand at a biography and decided upon a royal one (I always hunt big game). The monarch whom I knew best was Charles II, and as I already had material upon his activities in the 1640s and 1660s I decided to home in now upon the greatest puzzle existing in the rest of his career, the Secret Treaty of Dover.

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