J.P.Sommerville

 

Charles II
Charles II (1630-85)

 

The end of the Protectorate and the Restoration

1658-1660

 

1. Richard Cromwell and his Parliament

Richard Cromwell had spent his first 33 years as a conventional country gentleman -  hunting in the shires, taking his seat in Parliament and serving as a member of its Committee for trade and navigation. He had no support in the army, but conservative gentry found Richard acceptable and his accession passed without incident.
Richard summoned Parliament, and it began 27 January 1659.
A vocal minority of committed republicans, led by Arthur Haselrig and Henry Neville (1620-94), were still not reconciled to the Protectorate and wished to restore the rule by the House of Commons alone.
Richard attempted to ally with the conservative elements in Parliament and re-assert civilian control over the army.
General Charles Fleetwood led a mutiny of the army. Ignoring Richard's orders, Fleetwood along with many senior officers began issuing demands for indemnity, for their action, arrears of pay and a return to republican rule.

2. The Army and the Rump

Sire George Booth
Sir George Booth (1622-84)

22 April 1659, the republicans in Parliament allied with the army forced Richard to dissolve parliament.
General John Lambert presented a "petition" to William Lenthall asking for the return of the Rump. Forty-two survivors of Cromwell's dissolution, assembled 7 May 1659 and issued a declaration establishing a "commonwealth without a King, single person, or House of Lords…"
22 May 1659, Richard wrote a letter acquiescing in the change and so resigning the Protectorship. (Richard left England for the Continent and did not return until about 1680).
Friction soon developed between the Rump  and the army over the appointment of officers and indemnity for past actions.
In Cheshire, Sir George Booth led a revolt aimed at restoring Charles II. Booth had fought for Parliament during the Civil War, but raised about four thousand troops and tried to seize Chester. In August 1659, his raw recruits were routed by Lambert at the Battle of Winnington Bridge.
13 October 1659, Lambert expelled the Rump Parliament and instituted military rule through a Committee of Safety.
The army now had few civilian friends left, and was itself increasingly divided. The armies in Ireland and Scotland did not support Lambert's actions.
December 1659, the Navy mutinied and declared for the Rump. Support for Lambert collapsed and the Rump Parliament resumed its sittings, 26 December 1659.

3. George Monck

George Monck (1608-70)
George Monck (1608-70)

 George Monck commanded the army in Scotland. He professed his loyalty to the Rump Parliament but surrounded himself with officers loyal to himself personally.
When support for Lambert evaporated, Monck led his army into England, reaching York on 11 January 1660. He was welcomed by Sir Thomas Fairfax - an important indication that moderates would rally to him.
The Rump meanwhile did little to broaden its support in the country as a whole, and when Monck approached London, it attempted his summary dismissal from command.
21 February 1660, George Monck responded by restoring to Parliament the Members excluded in Pride's Purge. The purged members outnumbered the Rumpers and promptly outvoted them.

4. The End of the Long Parliament

The excluded Members declared the Long Parliament restored and appointed Monck Commander in Chief of the army.
The elected a new Council of State - largely from the ranks of Political Presbyterians. When Monck decided to negotiate with Charles II for the restoration of the Stuart dynasty, the Long Parliament dissolved itself (16 March 1660) and called elections for a new Parliament to decide on what terms Charles should resume the throne.
The Convention Parliament, which met 25 April 1660, was elected on the traditional franchise and made up of both Lords and Commons.
About one hundred of the Commons were former Royalists, and even former Parliamentarians agreed that only the return of the Stuarts could ensure social stability and order.

5. Charles II restored.

"… that we do grant a free and general pardon … to all our subjects, of what degree or quality soever, who, within forty days after the publishing hereof, shall … return to the loyalty and obedience of good subjects; excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament …"

The Declaration of Breda, April 1660.

 

During March 1660, Charles and Monck negotiated terms.
4 April 1660, Charles issued the Declaration of Breda in which he promised general pardon, a degree of religious toleration, and settlement of the soldiers' arrears.
In response, the Convention Parliament declared "That, according to the ancient and fundamental Laws of this Kingdom, the Government is, and ought to be, by King, Lords, and Commons; ..."
8 May 1660, Charles II was formally proclaimed King in London.
25 May 1660, Charles landed at Dover.
29 May 1660, Charles II arrived in London and celebrated his thirtieth birthday.
The immediate aim of Charles II was to secure his position by unifying the country behind him and few of his father's opponents suffered. Thirteen of the Regicides were executed as were the extreme republican, Sir Henry Vane, and the Independent minister and polemicist Hugh Peter.
A few surviving republicans, such as Henry Marten and Edmund Ludlow, suffered imprisonment or exile, whilst the corpses of Henry Ireton, John Pym and Robert Blake were dug up and defiled. Nevertheless, the vast majority of those who had fought against Charles I made their peace with his son, and prospered under the restored monarchy.

6. The Restoration Settlement.

Catherine of Braganza
Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705)

In May 1661, the Cavalier Parliament assembled. Its Members wanted to undo the Puritan Revolution of Cromwell and the Rump, but they confirmed some of the limitations imposed on the king during 1640 and 1641. Thus, episcopal government was re-established in the Church of England, but the prerogative courts (High Commission and Star Chamber) were never restored.
Effectively, after 1660 country gentlemen held the upper hand over the clergy.
Although most gentlemen were happy to help in the Anglican reaction against sects and religious radicals, a stubborn and influential minority of Presbyterians or Dissenters remained. They continued to struggle for the abolition of "superstitious" "Papist" ceremonies. The Declaration of Breda had offered a degree of religious toleration, but even Presbyterians who agreed on the fundamental doctrines of the Church of England suffered discrimination.
Venner's Rising, 1-6 January 1661, helped supply Charles with a pretext for a standing army. In fact, Thomas Venner (a Fifth Monarchist so radical that he had tried to overthrown Cromwell's government in 1657) only had about fifty supporters and was easily crushed. Venner was executed 19 January, and many Fifth Monarchists and Quakers imprisoned. After this disaster, Quakers and other sectaries became increasingly quietist.
The Militia Act of 1661 gave Charles control of the armed forces. He disbanded most of the army, but created a new force from Monck's "Regiment of Foot". His regiment marched into England from the small Scottish border town of Coldstream, and so became known as the Coldstream Guards - the oldest regiment in continuous service in the English army. They formed the nucleus of an army loyal to the King - an element in future attempts to create royal absolutism in England.
Despite Charles II's small force, the Restoration restored civil government - never again would England be a military dictatorship.
All legislation passed without royal consent (i.e. from 1642-1660) was deemed invalid, and so land sold by Parliament was restored to King, Church, and royalists from whom it had been confiscated. Unfortunately for them, many royalists had sold their land privately to pay Parliament's fines and taxes, and these sales were valid. Some of the richer royalists were able by legal action or royal favor to regain their land, but many lesser royalists suffered financially.
The disbandment of the army enabled Parliament to reduce taxes sharply. They attempted to grant Charles II a steady source of income from customs and excise receipts, but it proved inadequate to Charles' needs. Charles II wisely made no attempt to resort to his father's unpopular prerogative and feudal ways of raising money. Instead he married Catherine of Braganza (the King of Portugal's daughter) for a large dowry (which included the ports of Bombay, India, and Tangiers on the North African Mediterranean coast).
Charles also sold Dunkirk to the French for 1.5 million silver ecus - an unpopular but financially sensible move.

Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter (1615-91)

The 1662 Act of Uniformity required all clergy and schoolmasters to subscribe to the Book of Common Prayer. It had been revised slightly by a commission of bishops and clergy, but it still contained many elements offensive to Presbyterians and about two thousand ministers refused to assent and were deprived of their livings.

 

"I, ----, do here declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every-thing contained and prescribed in and by the book entitled The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Church of England, together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in churches; and the form and manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating of bishops, priests, and deacons."
 

Declaration prescribed by the Act of Uniformity, 1662

 

Nonconformists who refused to attend the Church of England's worship and attempted to conduct their own religious services were subject to fines and imprisonment.
The moderate puritan, Richard Baxter, for example was deprived of his living in 1662, and repeatedly harassed and imprisoned over the course of the next twenty or so years.
Nor was there official toleration for Roman Catholics. Charles II himself was inclined to allow some degree of toleration, but Parliament continued to fear the Catholic threat. The expanding power of France under Louis XIV (1638-1715; acceded 1643) - a bigoted persecutor of Protestants - only fueled such fears.
The electoral reforms of Cromwell did not survive the Restoration, and for most intents and purposes, Parliament represented the interests only of the gentry and aristocracy. Nonetheless, the Restoration instituted a period of financial and political stability such that increasing wealth and scientific advance combined to begin a period of considerable progress and modernization.

 

Previous lecture

Next lecture

Return to top of page Course schedule Home