The King as figure and image represented in polemical literature, is the central focus of the
present research. This thesis offers a study in the semiotics of royal representation: a
deciphering or de-coding of its imagery, symbolism and iconicity. From the creation of
meaning displayed in these representational constructs, a new examination becomes possible
of the mechanisms by which the concept and image of kingly power was being re-projected
and received at a critical moment of English history.
Printed propaganda reveals the King, in his 'two bodies', to have been the nerve-point
around which a whole constellation of political arguments, powerful emotional stimuli and
evocations of national memory, were conjured up and deployed in persuasion and struggle.
Tracing representations of the King through the period 1678-83 establishes not only how the
language of printed propaganda developed over the period; it also reveals, more surprisingly,
a permanent process of oblique or lateral reference which goes to the heart of the quest for
national and cultural identity in this period.
Similar methodological approaches have been applied fruitfully in research treating Louis
XIV and Oliver Cromwell; yet the present study is the first of this type to have been carried
out in relation to Charles II and, via this central icon, used to renew our understanding of the
Exclusion crisis itself. Beyond this, my thesis, it is hoped, makes a genuine contribution to
our wider insight about the character of Restoration England, about kingly power at a time of
major phase-change in the political mindset, and about the emergence of 'politicised media'
recognizable in our own contemporary world.