Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Restoration Settlement

In Search of the Republic--21


Charles II assumed the throne in 1660. Parliament declared Charles II to have been the legitimate king of England from the time of the execution of his father, implying that the English experiment with republicanism was a usurpation of legitimate government.


Charles patronized the arts and sciences with his support of the Royal Society of London, which included Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle, and his establishment of the Royal Observatory. Charles supported the reopening of the theaters, which had been closed under the reign of the Puritans. He also patronized many women. Although his wife bore him no children because of multiple miscarriages, Charles father at least 12 illegitimate offspring through his many mistresses.


The early Parliament that worked with Charles were dominated by Anglicans and Royalists. This Parliament ended the struggle that had endured since the 1640s over what kind of Protestant politics would dominate England. They struck out at the Puritans in the following legislation:


Indemnity and Oblivion Act (1660) provided a general pardon for treason except those who directly involved. The original prosecutor and several of the surviving commissioners who signed the king's death warrant were tried and executed for treason. The Parliament passed Bills of Attainder declaring the late Oliver Cromwell and others guilty of treason. Authorities exhumed his course displayed it in chains.

Corporation Act (1661) required that all municipal officers must take Anglican communion. This effectively excluded Presbyterians and Congregationalists from offices on the local level.


Act of Uniformity (1662) made the Anglican Book of Common Prayer compulsory in all churches. Some 2000 clergy resigned rather than comply.


Conventicle Act (1664) outlawed non-Anglican religious assemblies of more than five persons who were not from the same household.


Five Mile Act (1965) forbade clergy from living within five miles of a parish from which they had been expelled unless they took an oath of loyalty.


By the 1670, however, conflict between the monarchy and Parliament resumed. Moreover, the Protestant settlement of the Restoration appeared to be jeopardized by the specter of a Roman Catholic heir to the throne. These issue eventually led to the exclusion crisis and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.




Charles II

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