When Charles II returned to England in 1660, and Louis XIV in 1661 began his personal rule in France, the centre of culture in Europe began to shift from Rome to Paris. Baroque art began to move into a phase now known as classic Baroque.

This classic Baroque style was more restrained than the earlier flamboyant Baroque, and followed the principles of the High Renaissance. The independent, exuberant noblemen of the past now became tame courtiers living with the king at Versailles. The arts were used to propagandise for the tightly controlled life of power favoured by the Sun King.

Charles II, while taking much influence from France, his place of exile, still retained an essentially English court. There was no attempt at the precision and order that governed the court at Versailles. As a result the English culture was more eclectic and comfortable than that of the French.

After Charles’ death, the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne were marked by a turn toward bourgeois morality. Thus, the arts and clothing between 1690 and 1710 were more restrained and formal than they had been under Charles II.

Politics in Europe at this time were concerned mainly with the ambitious imperialism of the Sun King. Louis XIV started the War of Spanish Succession by placing one of his own family on the Spanish throne after the death of Charles II of Spain. Smaller wars throughout Russia, Denmark, and the attempted expansion of the Turks into the Holy Roman Empire mark this period as one of unrest.