In this article we will discuss about Charles II’ and entry into the Royal Governance of England. After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Charles II 2. Charles II: Character and Home Policy 3. Charles II’s Foreign Policy 4. Charles II’s Religious Policy 5. Charles II and Parliament 6. Origin of Political Parties: Whig and Tory.
- Charles II
- Charles II: Character and Home Policy
- Charles II’s Foreign Policy
- Charles II’s Religious Policy
- Charles II and Parliament
- Origin of Political Parties: Whig and Tory
1. Charles II:
With Charles II’s entry into his capital on May 29, 1660, the new royal government took all its functions. General Monk recommended a long list of Presbyterians for king’s selection of his Privy Councillors. This momentarily struck terror into Charles. But ultimately when the king selected Ashley Cooper and few more Roundheads for his Privy Council, Monk did not object.
The real power of the Council was kept in the hands of an inner circle consisting of old Cavaliers like Ormond, Nicholas and Hyde who was made the Chancellor. Monk now made Duke of Albemarle became a great lord and courtier.
Charles and his government had indeed the affections of the people but it was not really secure till the army was paid its arrears of pay and disbanded. The army walked away soberly off to set up trade with the money in its pocket.
In Scotland the restoration was no less popular for restoration there meant national independence with Stuart King Charles II wearing the Scottish Crown. The Presbyterian form of Church government was replaced by the Episcopalian and as a symbol of the establishment of Cavalier order of things, the Presbyterian chieftain Argyle was duly executed.
The restoration in Ireland was an easy matter particularly because the Irish were predominantly royalists.
The restored government was lenient to the Irish. By an Act of Settlement of 1661 lands in possession of the Puritans who had settled in Ireland during the republican rule were settled with them and the Cavaliers’ lands were also restored. In 1665 an Act of Explanation which was a subsidiary Act to the Act of Settlement passed in 1661.
By this Act, the Puritans were ordered to release a third of the lands in their possession to meet the demands of the Cavaliers who could not be settled. In this way the land problem was more or less settled. In religious matters Lord Lieutenant Earl of Ormond pursued a policy of toleration and though the Irish Church was restored, the Roman Catholics were granted liberty of conscience in religious matters.
There were, in fact, two restorations. In 1660 the King, the Lords and the Commons, the non-military state and the dominance of the hereditary upper class were restored. This restoration was made by the Presbyterians. In 1661, the second restoration took place. It was the restoration of the persecuting Anglican Church by the Cavaliers.
The restoration of 1660 was made by the Convention Parliament and the second of 1661, by the Cavalier Parliament. The significance of the restoration lay in the fact that it had fixed the roots of the political and social institutions of England. Although substantially changed in 1689, the restoration of 1660, 1661 formed the religious and political character of various strata of the English.
The Restoration Settlement was based on the Declaration of Breda signed by Charles II before he had left Holland for England. In this declaration Charles had promised four things: a general amnesty to all the Roundheads involved in the Rebellion except those whom the Parliament would exclude; payment of arrears to the Iron side army; liberty of conscience in religious matters; and settlement of the land question by the Parliament, involving all lands that had changed hands during the period of turmoil. The Restoration Settlement proceeded along these lines.
A restoration is always a revolution, remarked a historian. Apparently, the restoration of 1660 meant restoration of monarchy with all the powers that it had lost before. Neither Charles II nor James II agreed to define the limit to royal prerogatives. They did not look to the Parliament for all their supplies. Both received money and troops from France to govern England without Parliament.
The king, thus remained the head and real executive of the government, chose and dismissed ministers at his will. Thus the restoration of 1660 was a restoration of monarchy more than that of the Parliament and the king still continued to be the repository of the sovereign authority of the state.
But Von Ranke points out that ‘the English Restoration was essentially a Parliamentary revolution. The chief reason for recalling Charles II was the impossibility of establishing Parliamentary government without a king’. The restoration was, therefore, a restoration of both the king and the Parliament.
It was more than that, it was a restoration of the Anglican Church, dominance of the hereditary upper class and of the rule of law. It was more than manifest that England would, never again return to the old order of things.
Despite the fact that the king still conducted both the domestic and foreign policies of the country, none of the royal prerogatives were taken away by enacting any law, the king chose his ministers and removed them at his will as before, chose his successors, the old days of royal despotism were over.
The opinions and wishes of the Parliament could never again be ignored. The old autocratic powers of the king were gone. True with the restoration, Divine Right of Kings was revived, but the unlimited and autocratic powers associated with this doctrine could not be revived. When James II sought to regain the powers of the early Stuarts he had to abdicate.
This apart, there was no attempt to revive the prerogative courts like Star Chamber, High Commission, Council of the North or Council of Wales. The Privy Council’s criminal jurisdiction was not restored. After the restoration arbitrary taxation could not be resorted to.
If the Parliament did not vote all the supplies, the king looked to France for money. Parliamentary control of taxation was never again relaxed. The king could no longer rule for a long time without the assistance of the Parliament.
According to some the restoration was the beginning of Parliamentary government in England, and it had fixed the roots of political and social institutions of modern England. The House of Lords which was abolished during the republican rule was revived and with that the ancient system of elections was restored.
The Parliament had become stronger than before by securing rights of appropriating supplies for particular objects and of auditing accounts of the state. The responsibility of individual ministers to the Parliament was also gradually established. The control over the purse having passed completely into the hands of the Parliament made it the more important partner of the government.
With the disbanding of the army on payment of all its arrears of pay, non-military state and the rule of law was restored. The king was no longer to maintain any standing army. To facilitate the running of a civil government the Parliament provided that the king was to get income from Crown lands, tonnage and poundage and customs on wine and beer, but not from any feudal dues which were all abolished.
The religious restoration proved a difficult matter to arrange. The Presbyterians had mainly contributed to the restoration and it would naturally be ungrateful, unsafe and unwise to disturb them. But the king and his Chancellor Earl of Clarendon (former Edward Hyde) were resolved to re-establish episcopacy. The Convention Parliament settled everything except religion.
On religious question, the dominant parties in the Parliament were divided. There was prolonged discussion on Bishop Usher’s model —a compromise proposal made twenty years back for a reconciliation between religious factions on the basis of alterations in the Prayer Book and limitation of episcopal powers by a Council of Presbyters.
But, the Lord Chancellor noticing that the Cavaliers were gaining strength as social restoration was proceeding and postponed religious restoration until after the election of a new Parliament which he reasonably expected to be more royalist.
The new Parliament met on May 8, 1661. As expected, it was most decidedly royalist, the Presbyterians did not have more than sixty seats. The temper of the new Parliament soon appeared by the votes for obliging all members to receive the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England and for having the Solemn League and Covenant burnt by the common hangman.
It also declared that the command of the army was right inherent in the Crown and it was made treason to injure his person or to distinguish between his person and his office. An Indemnity Bill, without exceptions, was passed. A Bill for immediate execution of the regicides but it was thrown out by the Lords, the king himself expressed his aversion to it by saying: ‘I am weary of hanging’.
The Bill excluding the bishops from the Parliament was repealed and the prelates were restored to their legislative functions. But for the religious settlement the new Parliament spent its youthful five years and the Acts passed for the purpose collectively go by the Clarendon Code after the Chancellor Clarendon.
These laws broke for ever the Puritan pretensions to political supremacy, reduced the quantity and purified the quality of religious influence of Puritanism, confined its social sphere to the middle-class as well as the lower classes and above all created a division of the English people into Church and dissent.
In 1661 the Corporation Act was passed by which the membership of the municipal bodies that ruled the towns and controlled elections to the Parliament was confined to those who received Communion according to the rites of the Church of England, renounce the Solemn League and Covenant and to swear not to wield arms against the king.
Next year (1662) an Act of Uniformity was passed by which use of Prayer Book was made compulsory in English Churches and 2,000 Puritan clergy were expelled from their livings for refusing their assent to the English Prayer Book.
By the Conventicle Act, passed in 1664, inflicted penalties of imprisonment for attending conventicles, i.e. meetings of the non-conformists, i.e., those who did not accept the rites of the Established Church of England.
The first and the second offence would be punishable by imprisonment but repetition for the third time would entail transportation on pain of death in case the person so transported would return to England.
In 1665, Five Miles Act was passed by which no clergymen or schoolmaster was to come within five miles of a city or a corporate town unless he would declare that he would not at any time try to alter the government in the state or the Church.
As Puritans were principally inhabitants of towns and cities, the Five Miles Act had the effect of cutting them off from even private education. This Act hastened the great decline in the number of the Puritans in England.
The Clarendon Code was no mere threat of persecution. It was modelled on the persecuting laws enacted against the Church of England when the Puritans were dominant. The execution of the Code was entrusted to the Justices of Peace who made revenge their chief duty of their office because they were filled with bitterest rancour against their late oppressors.
It was under the Conventicle Act that John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress suffered twelve years in prison. But the main importance of Clarendon Code lay, however, not in the persecution but in the vast social change brought about it, specially by the first two Acts of the Code, namely the Corporation Act and the Act of Uniformity.
As the fundamental cause of the Anglican triumph was economic and social, the most fundamentally important effect of the Code was social and economic. “The permanent result of the Clarendon Code was to prepare the way for a most important feature of modern times,” the strict and remarkable influence of class on religious observance in England’.
In order that the Puritans might not forfeit their political rights and social status, they hastened to conform to the established religion. “The local chiefs of the Whig party were afterwards drawn from the numerous families up and down the country who had chosen this un-heroic course.”
Some had left the country but majority remained in England to suffer bitterest persecution, which was worse under Clarendon Code than what was under Laud. Yet it was out of this oppressed community that the balancing weight of a free party system arose. The Clarendon Code divided England into conformists and dissentes or non-conformists.
Non-conformity became a permanent feature in English life. The latter were not to choose burgesses for parliament. They were excluded from power and this led to a reduction in the number of those who cared for social status or entertained social ambitions.
The Clarendon Code led to a general decline in the religious fervor, the only contribution to religion during this period was the composition of hymn- writing.
Intellectually, the entire period till 1871 when the non-conformists were allowed entry into the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, they formed a separate body of interests and opinions. Even before law allowed it, the non-conformists built up schools and academies of their own.
As these were not incorporated with the universities, they followed their own curricula and courses of studies which gave them freedom of making experiments with education not without fruitful results. Men who emerged from this system of education in the eighteenth century were Robert Harley, a great politician, Daniel Defoe, the great literary man, and many political critics and social reformers.
Economically, the Clarendon Code led to the rise of the Quakers and other sectaries who were manufacturers or merchants or bankers. ‘The sobriety and industry which Puritanism fostered were favourable to business success.’ Ultimately religious differences were overridden by the tendencies of business life and economic thought that found a spurt as a result of the Code.
2. Charles II: Character and Home Policy:
Charles II, the restored Stuart was more loved by his people than any of his predecessors in the line.
The calamities that had befallen his house, the heroic death of his father Charles I, his own sufferings during his travels before restoration, all this made him an object of tender consideration. He was recalled by both the contending factions in England and this naturally gave him a chance of arbitrating between them and truly, he was fit for the task in, more than one respect. He had excellent parts and happy temper.
‘His education had been such as might have been expected to develop his understanding, and to form him to the practice of every public or private virtue.’ His varied experience had given him chances to see both sides of human nature. Having been driven in young age from a palace life to the life of an exile, penury and danger, he had his body and mind perfectly trained.
‘He had been taught by bitter experience how much baseness, perfidy, and ingratitude may lie hid under the obsequious demeanour of courtiers. He had found, on the other hand, in the huts of the poorest, true nobility of soul.’
From the World of varied experience he came with excellent social habits, polite and engaging manners, with talent of lively conversation. But on the darker side he came with addiction to sensual indulgence, loving frivolous amusements, without any faith in human virtue and completely insensible to reproach.
To him every person was purchasable. He was equally impervious to critics and sycophants.
A contemporary characterised Charles II as follows:
“Charles had neither conscience, religion, honour nor justice, and he does not seem to have had even the feelings of them. He had no one truly public aim as such, in the whole course of his reign. All he meant and sought… was to enjoy a lazy, thoughtless case. He was corrupted in France, and had all the pleasantry and vices of his grandfather, Henry IV, but not one of his virtues. Charles made the times here to be profligate; and, instead of ministers spoiling him, he spoiled most of his ministers, and did not love those whom he could not spoil.”
He was not a man to be imposed upon by the patriarchal theory of government and the doctrine of Divine Right. His one ambition was to be a King such as Louis XIV of France. His vices were those to which the Puritans were least indulgent and he had reason to dislike the rigid sect.
But Charles had other capabilities too. “He was by far the ablest man of the Stuart family and he was capable of carrying out deep laid schemes, which he concealed under a charming manner and an apparent contempt for business.”
He had many of the gifts needed for a successful rule. He was of impressive appearance, a good figure of a man in vigorous health. ‘He was easy of access, unassuming and friendly… his talk was shrewd and witty.’ His wide experience of men and things made him shrewd, tactful and wise.
The first care of Charles II was to reward those who had been active in his restoration and to form his Privy Council, to punish the regicides to make him an absolute monarch though not believing in Divine Right, and to restore the Episcopacy.
As it has already been referred to before, Charles created General Monk Earl of Albemarle. But he did not accept all the names for membership of his Privy Council. Old royalists like Hyde made Duke of Clarendon, was his Chancellor, Ormond, steward of his household, Sir Edward Nicholas his Secretary of State and Lord Colpepper master of the rolls.
The members of the Independent and Republican party who showed its confidence in the regicide to government by purchase of Church and Crown lands had to restore the lands without compensation. Those who lost largely consisted of the officers of Cromwell’s army.
In this way the Independent aristocracy that grew up during the Republican government was ruined. The royalists who had suffered exile and direct confiscation of estates, recovered what they had lost.
By the sentences of Cavalier and Presbyterian judges a dozen regicides were executed. Of the original number many escaped the gallows by surrender. The execution took place in sight of the place before Whitehall where scaffold had been raised for Charles I.
Hugh Peter, Cook, Harrison, and Sir Harry Vane were most noted of the executed regicides. Remains of Cromwell, Bradshaw and Ireton were dug up and hanged in sight of the people till sunset and later buried at the foot of the gallows.
Charles II sought to become an absolute monarch but was careful enough not to ignore the Parliament. He found that he had no financial independence and even in utmost protestation of loyalty the Cavalier Parliament would not fix sufficient permanent revenue to meet the expenses of the government.
He, therefore, had of necessity, to sell control of his policy either to the Parliament or to the French King. But Charles II, not, willing to go on his travels again did never pursue a course that led his father to ruin. With the abolition of the prerogative courts there was no longer any organ of King’s arbitrary will.
Under, the Tudor and early Stuarts liberty of person or speech was not to be found outside the Parliament. But after restoration people did not speak in whispers.
The laws of the land judged impartially all cases between officials and private citizens. There were no prerogative laws. De Cominges, the French ambassador in England writing in 1664 remarked “This government has a monarchical appearance because there is a king, but at bottom it is very far from being a monarchy.”
For first fifteen years of his reign Charles’ lazy policy led not only to the reduction of royal power but he found himself on the defensive against dangers incurred by intrigues. Charles at last believed himself to make use of his true political ability and “to prove himself one of the greatest politicians who ever succeeded in the struggle for power in England”. He began to consider how to avoid the loss of his royal prerogatives.
He, therefore, looked to France for both money and counsel in his attempt to make himself independent of the Parliament and emulating Louis XIV as an autocratic king. Louis ,XIV negotiated Charles’ marriage with Portuguese princess and this brought Tangier and Bombay as dowry. Bombay was sold to East India Company.
The broker of the marriage treaty France, was allowed to purchase Dunkirk. Thus Charles made himself independent of the Parliament by an indirect method. He also appointed ministers and advisers who were thoroughly dependent on him and were ready to carry out his schemes. In these ways Charles II sought to establish the second Stuart despotism in England. At least he was the originator of Second Stuart Despotism.
The other most important aim of Charles II was restoration of Catholicism in England. This is known from the records of his negotiations with the Pope during 1662-63 and with both the Pope and Louis XIV during the years 1669-72.
He proposed in his negotiations to alter the doctrines of the Church of England into those of the Roman Catholic Church and to effect a change in the rituals except communion of both kinds and some English hymns with the Mass.
Thus altered Church was to enjoy considerable autonomy from the Papal suzerainty. But he thought of relaxing the penal laws against the Dissenters and thereby bringing them under the Crown’s loyalty. Yet the conversion of the Anglican Church into Church of Rome could only be accomplished with the backing of military force.
Charles II, therefore, looked to France, the only country that could supply him gold and troops for bringing about a combination of Catholicism and Despotism, which had become the ideal polity in contemporary Europe. But Charles II paid no regard to the English hatred of the French despotic regime and the general contempt for that country.
Thus when he entered upon the great scheme he was risking the fortune of the Stuarts for a second time.
The great majority of the English Catholics would never willingly have consented to participate in the king’s plot. This was because they wanted to be left at peace, and because the number of Catholics among the classes of field labour and of trade had come down considerably. Charles II’s negotiations with the Pope in 1662-63 found little encouragement because Charles wanted an autonomous Catholic Church! in England.
Six years later (1668-69) Charles appealed to Louis XIV of France and also opened negotiations with the Pope. The task of converting the French King to Charles’ opinion was left to Charles’ sister Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans. She now became the principal agent in the secret of the King’s reign.
It was due to her effort that the Secret Treaty of Dover (1670) was signed with Louis XIV. By the treaty Charles and Louis secretly agreed to partition of Holland, Louis promised money and troops to Charles to enable him to declare his own conversion to Catholicism and establishing that religion in England.
In , 1672 Charles through his feigned zeal for religious toleration suspended all penal laws against the Dissenters by the Declaration of Indulgence. This was but an indirect way to re establish Catholicism, although apparently it was a concession to the Protestant Dissenters.
But this was vehemently opposed both within and without the Parliament which compelled the King to withdraw the Declaration of Indulgence. A Test Act was passed in 1673 by which all Catholics and Dissenters were shut out of state offices. By a second Test Act in 1678 Catholics were excluded from the Parliament.
The Treaty of Dover took air arid the first part of the treaty namely joining France in a war against Holland which had been given effect to was reversed. Peace was made with Holland, the French Catholic plot of Charles II was destroyed. Anglican supremacy was more thoroughly entrenched in England.
3. Charles II’s Foreign Policy:
Charles II had come back to England without the help of any foreign power either in men or money. He was, therefore, in no obligation to any foreign power. He having been invited by both the rival factions of the English people, he could naturally follow an independent foreign policy without having to please any particular faction.
The only limitation as lay upon him were from his responsibility towards his own subjects. Yet it was impossible to cause a complete breach of continuity. The country was at war with Spain but no effective military or naval action was in progress, nor was it thought that war would be of any value to England. Peace, was, therefore, signed with Spain who was also anxious to end hostilities with England.
The Spaniards, however, did not relinquish their claim on Jamaica, but they gave up Dunkirk to England. Strategically Dunkirk was of great importance as a landing place between the French arid the Dutch coasts and could be converted into a position of incalculable advantage to England. But Charles II was not capable of mooting or carrying out such a policy.
Charles II adhered to the policy of Cromwell in siding with the French in the hostility between the France and Spain. It was following the policy of choosing France as an ally that Cromwell had acquired, Jamaica and Dunkirk.
In 1659 by the Peace of Pyrenees the Franco-Spanish hostility ended but it was followed by a Spanish marriage which opened up prospects of a dynastic union of the French Bourbons and the Spanish Hapsburgs in the future, as also a war of succession.
Louis XIV in order to have England on his side negotiated marriage between Charles II and Portuguese princess and as brokerage got Dunkirk from Charles. Charles, however, got Tangier and Bombay, and more than £800,000 in cash as dowry. Tangier was difficult as well as expensive and in 1683 the small garrison was withdrawn.
This interrupted English political power in the Mediterranean which was restored later, in the early eighteenth century by the acquisition of Gibraltar and Minorca.
Handing over of Dunkirk for French gold and troops deprived England of an important landing place between the Netherlands and France, in the continental coast. Charles sold Bombay to the East India Company which brought him money.
The cash dowry, the French gold and the sale proceeds of Bombay made Charles II independent of the Parliamentary grants. But Charles’ policy of French alliance was not the result of the allurements of French diplomacy, nor due to Charles’ preference for the country of his cousin Louis XIV, the country which had become leader of the world’s fashion and manners.
But the most realistic element in the British policy was the old rivalry with the Dutch in the East Indies, North America and on the coast of Africa.
Although peace with Holland in 1654 had ended direct hostilities friction in Europe over maritime law and mercantilist policy still continued. The renewal of the Navigation Act in 1660 showed that the English were determined to persist in the policy of using power of the state against Dutch commercial wealth.
Although in 1662 Charles and Clarendon made a new treaty with Holland, which provided for settlement of disputes between the two countries by arbitration but did nothing to meet the Dutch proposal for a Triple Alliance between England, Holland and France, nor did it provide for any loan which Charles wanted to contract with Holland.
Thus while, France and England were friends, and France and Holland were allies, rivalry between England and Holland continued which in 1664 boiled up into the Second, Dutch War, a purely commercial war. This war lasted until the summer of 1667. The English seized New Amsterdam in North America and renamed it New York after the Duke of York, brother of Charles II (1665).
In the same year Duke of York inflicted a crushing defeat on the Dutch Navy in the naval engagement off Lowes taft. But two calamities of great magnitude befell England, the Great fire and the Plague. By the year 1667, England ran short of funds, short of fighting men, sailors, etc. The English fleet lay idle in Chatham harbour, the sailors were in arrears of pay and were in mutiny.
All this made things very easy for the Dutch. They sailed up to the Thomes, bombarded the Chatham harbour, destroyed sixteen of the English ships laid up there and held the city of London in a siege for weeks. The great humiliation in the Second Dutch War naturally reacted on the popularity of Clarendon.
He had to be dismissed and Charles had to submit to greater control by the Parliament. The Peace of Breda brought the Second Dutch War to a conclusion, New Amsterdam and New Jersey were obtained from the Dutch.
The Peace of Breda marked a turning point in the history of Anglo-Dutch relations. In the mean time the French aggression had overshadowed all other things. All this had contributed to loosen the English dependence on France to which the former minister Clarendon had become increasingly attached.
France had begun his aggression upon the Spanish Netherlands in what is known as War of Devolution. Louis XIV sought to keep England on his side by payment of huge amounts to Charles II, or at least to keep him neutral in his designs on the Spanish Netherlands. For the moment Arlington was in charge of English foreign policy and the drift away from France was hastened.
It was feared that the Dutch might be forced to divide Spanish Netherlands with France. England, therefore, formed a Triple Alliance with Holland and Sweden the main purpose of which was to checkmate France. This policy was very much to the liking of the English people and for a time Charles earned the gratitude of the English people.
The immediate result was the cessation of hostilities by Louis XIV who had become willing for peace because of exhaustion. The Treaty of Aixla-Chapelle was signed. Charles, however, had no reason to be elated, for the Parliament was very niggardly in voting, grants to him. The Parliament also not willing to grant toleration to Dissenters and the Catholics.
He was still looking forward to French help with which he hoped to make himself as despotic as the French king himself.
Louis XIV who had to come to terms because of Holland which had organised the Triple Alliance against him was now determined to teach the Dutch a lesson. But he took care to isolate Holland before commencing what is known as the Dutch War. Sweden was detached from the Triple Alliance and by the Secret Treaty of Dover (1670) enlisted Charles II’s support, the latter having been himself eager for it.
This treaty provided that Charles would join hands with France in partitioning Holland, France agreed to pay him a huge amount of money as also troops to make himself independent of the Parliament and to established Roman Catholic Church in England. The secret treaty was in reality a betrayal of the English people.
Even the ministers were not taken into confidence except two of them. A sham treaty providing only for war with the Dutch was shown to others. But the secret treaty took air. The difficulties and problems that Charles II had to force later were all due to this blunder of signing the secret treaty.
In 1672 the Dutch War of Louis XIV began and according to the arrangements made in the secret treaty, England joined on the French side. This was the Third. Dutch War of England. Two days before the formal opening of war against the Dutch a Declaration of Indulgence was issued.
Charles now began acting on his prerogatives, and “by virtue of supreme power in ecclesiastical matters” he suspended all penal laws against all forms of non-conformists, i.e., both the Protestants and the Roman Catholics.
The Protestants were to obtain license for places of their public worship and the Catholics were allowed freedom of worship in their private houses. Although the declaration came as a deliverance of the suffering nonconformists and was a good step to unite all people, yet the time and manner of the Declaration led to a renewal of domestic strife.
The Commons became furious and would not vote any supplies to the king for the war. Charles was obliged to cancel the Declaration. It was also manifest to him that the English people were looking upon France as their real enemy and not Holland.
Charles naturally lost all interest in the Dutch War and under pressure of the Parliament withdrew from it and by the Treaty of Westminster (1674) peace with Holland was restored. Louis continued the war till 1678 when by the Treaty of Nymwegen peace with Holland was signed. In the subsequent years Charles II’s foreign policy ceased to be of any moment in the English history.
The foreign policy of Charles II was no breach with the past. It was based on the principle of friendship with France and enmity with Spain. But the French friendship became one of subservience, because Charles II sought to borrow strength from Louis XIV for making himself independent of the Parliament by obtaining French gold and troops, and to alter the English Church into Church of Rome.
This made Charles a prisoner of Louis XIV.
Charles II’s relations with Holland was initially pursued for the enhancement of commercial advantages of England, and in the Second Dutch War New Amsterdam and New Jersey were gained. But the Third Dutch War was fought not so much for the benefit of England as for assisting France according to the terms of the Secret Treaty of Dover which was a treason to the people of England.
This treaty was the “first act in the drama which ended in the Revolution of 1688”. English relations during the period with Spain was one of peace, and the war which Charles had inherited from the republican period was brought to a close by signing of a peace treaty by which Jamaica was given up, but Dunkirk was retained by England.
With Portugal the relation was, though not fruitful from the point of view of getting an heir to the throne, was economically valuable because the king’s marriage with Catherine of Barganza brought him a rich dowry and a great amount in cash which made Charles somewhat independent of the Parliamentary supplies.
4. Charles II’s Religious Policy:
Charles, while in exile in Catholic countries was not converted into Catholicism by his Catholic mother because of his father’s strict order. All other children of Charles I had been converted into Catholicism. Yet his mother had given him the Catholic blood in him which in due course worked its own effects. He was also brought up in Catholic environment and he took a Catholic princess as his consort.
No wonder, in the depth of his mind, he had a Catholic bias. But when he came to England, the national feelings were both anti-Puritan and anti-Catholic. The Presbyterians had mainly contributed to the Restoration and it would be naturally ungrateful, unsafe as well as unwise to disturb them. But Charles II and his Chancellor Clarendon were resolved to re-establish Episcopacy.
The dominant parties in the Convention Parliament were divided on the question of religion. Prolonged discussions took place on Bishop Usher’s model—a compromise proposal made some twenty years back for a reconciliation between religious factions on the basis of alterations in the Prayer Book and limitation of Episcopal powers by a Council of Presbyters.
Charles issued a declaration apparently granting all these, but when attempt was made to convert this into a Bill, the court party frustrated the attempt. The task of religious settlement was left for a formal Parliament, for the Convention Parliament was not formal in the sense it was not summoned by the king.
The newly elected Parliament was Cavalier in its sentiments and was strongly in favour of re-establishing Episcopacy in England. Charles II and Duke of Clarendon (former Edward Hyde) had naturally the advantage of getting a series of laws passed with a view to fulfilling their aims. The laws collectively go by the name of the Chancellor Clarendon as Clarendon Code.
By the Corporation Act (1661) the membership of the municipal bodies that ruled the towns and controlled elections to the Parliament, was confined to those who received communion according to the rites of the Church of England, to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant and to swear not to wield arms against the king.
Next year by the Act of uniformity made it compulsory for the Protestants and the Roman Catholics to accept the English Prayer Book on the pain of being expelled from the livings. Two thousand Puritan clergy were expelled from their livings for refusing their assent to the Prayer Book. The non-conformists were excluded from the Anglican Church and were termed as Separatists.
In 1664 the Conventicle Act was passed which made it punishable by imprisonment to attend any conventicle, i.e., meeting of the non-conformists. Next year (1665) Five Miles Act provided that no non-conformists could teach in schools or come within five miles of a city or corporate towns unless they would declare that they would not at any time try to alter the government in the State or the Church.
This excluded the Puritans from even private education.
The Clarendon Code was no mere threat of persecution. It was modelled on the persecuting laws passed by the Puritans when they were dominant and the Justices of Peace to whom the execution of the Code was entrusted made revenge the chief duty of their office. They were bitter in their rancour against their former oppressors.
The most fundamental effect of the Clarendon Code was social and economic. The Puritans in order not to lose their social status, political rights and economic freedom hastened to conform to the established religion of England. The local chiefs of the Whig party were drawn from this newly conforming class.
The conformists and non-conformists were the two sections into which the Clarendon Code had divided the English people, had also excluded the latter from choosing burgesses for Parliament. Economically, the Code gave rise to quakers and sectaries who were the manufacturers, merchants or bankers and eventually their success in business life had overridden the religious differences.
Charles II, however, was desirous of establishing Roman Catholicism in England and thus he sought to do with borrowed strength, both monetary and military, from the King of France. But he did not venture to antagonise the Parliament.
To overcome the possible opposition of the Parliament to his religious policy of converting the Church of England into Church of Rome, he feigned to grant toleration to the non-conformists as a whole, i.e. the Protestants, Catholics, etc.
To fulfil his aim he entered into the Secret Treaty of Dover with France, by which he intended to re-establish Catholicism in England. Immediately before the Third Dutch War Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence ostensibly to give toleration to the Protestants by suspending all penal laws against all forms of non-conformists, i.e., the Protestants, Roman Catholics both.
The Parliament became furious and it refused to vote airy supplies until the Declaration was withdrawn. The Parliament was also definitely against the Dutch War and was decidedly against entente with France. Charles II was obliged to withdraw the Declaration and to make peace with Holland.
Not content with this, the Parliament compelled Charles II to give his assent to the Test Act (1673) by which the non-conformists of all descriptions, i.e. the Protestant Dissenters and the Catholics were all debarred from holding any office of the government. By another Test Act passed in 1678, the Catholics were excluded from the Parliament.
The Parliament even sought to exclude Charles II’s brother James, for he had no son, from succession because he was an ardent Catholic, but failed. This made it necessary to exclude James II and his son from the English throne by the Revolution of 1688.
The effects of Charles II’s religious policy were: First, it brought about a vast social change. In order that the Puritans might not forfeit their social status, they hastened to conform to the established religion. Another effect on society which prepared the way for an important feature of modern times was the strict and remarkable influence of class on religious observance in England.
The people of England were divided into conformists and dissenters or non-conformists. The latter were not to choose burgesses for Parliament. They were excluded from power, and this led to the reduction in the number of those who cared for social status or social ambitions.
Secondly, the local chiefs of the Whig party were afterwards drawn from the numerous families up and down the country who had chosen to hasten to conform to the establish Church.
Thirdly, there was a general decline in the religious fervour, the only contribution to religion during the period of Charles II’s reign was the composition of hymn-writing.
Fourthly, economic effect of the religious policy of Charles II was the rise of the Quakers and sectaries who were manufacturers, merchants or bankers. “The sobriety and industry that the Puritans had fostered were favourable to business success.” Ultimately, religious differences were overridden by the tendencies of business life and economic thought that found a spurt at that period.
Intellectually, the entire period till 1871 when the non-conformists were allowed entry into the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, they formed a separate body of interests and opinions. Even before law allowed it, the non-conformists built up schools and academies of their own.
As these were not incorporated with the universities, they followed their own curricula and courses of studies which gave them freedom of making experiments with education not without fruitful results. Men who emerged from this system of education in the eighteenth century were Robert Harby, a great politician, Daniel Defoe, the great literary man, and many political critics and social reformers.
5. Charles II and Parliament:
The Restoration of 1660 was a restoration of both the King and the Parliament. Although the prerogatives of the Crown were not taken away and although the king was still the supreme executive head with power to summon, prorogue or dissolve Parliament and to give or refuse assent to hills, parsed by the Parliament, the restoration did not reduce the Parliament to any subservience.
The king was also the fountain-head of justice, highest commander, head of the Church, representative of the nation in its relations with foreign countries. The land was under the king’s pence. The growing royal navy was under his full control.
Royal prerogatives further included sole control over the declaration of peace and war, conduct of diplomatic relation’s and making of treaties. Butt despite all these powers and prerogatives retained by the king, the powers of the Crown were now in practice exercised by the ministers, the Parliament controlled the finances and voted supplies according to its will.
The king and his ministers could do little or nothing by themselves except fill up offices and carry on the daily work of administration. Restoration, therefore, stood not for royal absolutism and arbitrary power but for common law, for the historic institutions—the Lords and the Commons, of the country, for regularity, precedent and good order.
Charles II’s fixed determination was never again to leave England’s shore ‘to go on his travels’, as he himself had put it. Naturally, whether, he liked it or not he had to honour the wishes of the Parliament. It was not until at a later period of his rule that he sought to by pass the Parliament to have his own way. Yet the Return to monarchy was attended with transfer of sovereignty from the Crown to the Parliament.
The Convention Parliament, so-called because it was not called by any writ of the king, but under Monk’s protection sat for nine months and restored the political rule of Parliament and king and the social rule of the upper class. The terms of the Declaration of Breda were fulfilled, the Cromwellian army was disbanded on payment of arrears of pay.
The regicides were punished, Cromwell, Bradshaw and Ireton’s remains were dug up and hanged. Act of Indemnity restored the estates confiscated from the royalists, a large number paid huge fines to compound for delinquency.
The king surrendered his 23 feudal dues from ward-ships, Knight service, and other survivals from medieval system, and instead he granted by Parliament sources of incomes from taxation and hereditary revenues yielding a fixed annual income of £1,200,000.
Further the Act of 1660 for the preservation of the king’s person and government made it treasonable to attempt to kill, wound or imprison or depose him, to levy war against him, to induce foreigners to invade his dominions. Solemn League and Covenant was solemnly repudiated.
The Convention Parliament was dissolved at the end of 1660 and election of a formal Parliament was ordered. But in January 1661 those military veterans who believed, in Military Republicanism and had not accepted I the new order of things rose in a rebellion known as the Rising of Fifth Monarchy Men.
They were fanatics who believed in coming of Jesus and reign of saints and, proclaimed King Jesus. This gave the government an opportunity to kill off a few score of the reconciled veterans. It also helped the return of violent reactionaries in the election held immediately after.
In May 1661, the new Parliament met. It was a Cavalier Parliament and members were of loyal families and young men mostly. Charles finding that the members were full of enthusiastic loyalty and mostly young men, said he would keep them till they grew beards. In fact, he kept them for eighteen years from 1661 to 1679.
It was decided that the Anglican Church with the Bishops and Prayer Book, was to be the Church of England. This undeceived the Presbyterians who believed themselves to be secure under Chrales in whose restoration they played a dominant part.
The Presbyterians refused to tolerate the Sects, but by a tragic irony of fate they themselves were now reduced to a Sect and excluded from the Church which they had hoped to control. Charles II, however, was against the Anglican triumph but the Cavalier zeal proved too strong to be resisted.
Even Duke of Clarendon, the Chancellor was not in favour of any harsh persecution of the Sects, but the Parliament left him no choice. By a series of Acts, viz. Corporation Act (1661) , Act of . Uniformity (1662), Quaker Act (1662) , Conventicle Act (1664) and Five Mile Act (1665) collectively known as ‘Clarendon Code’, thrust the non-conformists out of the Church of England. The Puritan Sects suffered severely.
The Clarendon Code compares very unfavourably with the tolerant attitude under the Republican government. The Clarendon Code political and ecclesiastical disabilities were put on the Dissenters.
It may be pointed out here that in former times such coercive measures had been initiated by the Crown, but in this instance, it was done by the Parliament and against the avowed wishes of the king and his minister Clarendon.
Prudence dictated Charles II not to rely on his prerogatives. He wanted to give shelter to the Catholics by fulfilling the policy enunciated in the Declaration of Breda. A bill to enable Charles to dispense with the Corporation Act; and another for dispensing with the Act of Uniformity were lost in the Lords in 1661 and 1663 respectively.
The Charles’ Declaration of Indulgence (1662) suspending all penal laws against the Non-conformists, i.e., Protestants and Catholics, the Commons protested by saying that the promises made at Breda were a mere statement of Charles’ personal intentions no effect to which could be given except by Acts made by the Parliament.
Further voting of supplies was refused until the withdrawal of the Declaration of Indulgence which Charles had to do.
Under Restoration conditions the king or a minister could achieve success by maintaining hold of councillors and ministers over the Houses of Parliament. But Chancellor Clarendon was a bad Parliamentary manager, the natural result was short and troublesome sessions of Parliament, long prorogation attacks on royal prerogatives and the eventual impeachment of Clarendon himself.
To add to the discomfiture of the Crown was its poverty. With extravagant expenditure of Charles II himself, unpaid debts of Charles I and of the Republican government, the financial settlement made by the Convention Parliament made no solution. Charles’ poverty, therefore, made his position vulnerable to Parliamentary attacks and led to the old charge of wastefulness and inefficiency.
The Dutch War put the government to great financial strain and the Common granted an extraordinary sum of four and half-million pounds. But the ill success of the English campaign raised doubts as to the wisdom of entrusting large sums to the control of the Crown.
This led the Commons to insist on appropriation of supply and rendering of accounts. Thus a new encroachment on the royal prerogatives as made and the right of auditing public accounts was secured by the Parliament (1667).
Charles II was resentful of this invasion of his prerogatives and Clarendon was abandoned to the Parliament for impeachment. Charles found Clarendon to have failed in Parliamentary tactics as well as in administrative practice, which had brought humiliation to the Crown.
The Commons held Clarendon responsible for misfortunes of the Dutch War and was thankful to the king when the latter dismissed him (1667). King’s assurance that Clarendon would not again be employed by him did not save him from impeachment.
But charges against Clarendon could not be satisfactorily proved and when the two Houses were wrangling over this, Clarendon went into voluntary exile to which he was later condemned by a statute.
Danby, the Lord Treasurer was likewise reached for carrying on negotiations with the French King Louis XIV. He had been a party to the arrangements over one of Louis XIV’s cash payments Charles. The Commons impeached him for high treason. Danby had done so under the express command of the king and he pleaded this in defence.
But the Commons did not accept the plea, and asserted ministerial responsibility to the Parliament. Charles pardoned Danby but this was not considered by the Commons as a valid ground of defence and could not be a bar to impeachment, he was sent to the Tower for five years.
Thus the Commons succeeded in asserting its right to control the policy of the government by punishing the ministers for their action which, the Parliament thought to be against the nation’s interest.
Clarendon was succeeded by Cabal ministry which comprised Clifford, Alington, Buckingham, Ashley and Lauderdale. The Cabal ministry also did not fare better. The period of (the Cabal was marked by two prorogation of the Parliament.
In 1669 a committee of the Commons had recommended a relaxation of the penal laws against the Protestants, but in 1770 the Parliament passed a second Conventicle Act empowering the magistrates to break into premises where conventicles or religious meetings of the Non-conformists were held.
Next year Charles II was petitioned complaining the growth of popery in England. But just two days before the Dutch War (1672) Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence suspending all ecclesiastical penal laws.
The absence of Parliament saved the immediate distemper over it. But when in 1673 the Parliament met, it refused to vote supplies for the war until the Declaration was withdrawn. The king had to give way. The Commons denied the alleged Prerogative of the Crown to suspend laws. Thus in religious matters as well, the Parliament secured dominance and the royal Prerogatives were further encroached upon.
Not content with this, the Parliament obliged the king to give assent to the Test Act, of 1673 imposing on all royal officers to take oath of supremacy and allegiance, to receive communion under the rites of the Anglican Church and declaring disbelief in the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
In foreign affairs the Cabal met with greater misfortune. The Secret Treaty of Dover in preference to the Triple Alliance, though secret except to the king, Clifford and Arlington, led to suspicion of the Parliament and on it the Cabal ministry wrecked.
The provisions of the Treaty of Dover were not made public, but the Parliament although was not aware of the full danger of the treaty its opposition what it came to know or suspect was enough to wreck the government and its policy.
The Dutch War (1672-74) became unpopular and when the Parliament met in 1673 it demanded of the king the dismissal of his advisers or tried to impeach them, criticised the marriage of the Duke of York, the evil councillors and the standing army. The king had to give way, peace with Holland was established by the Treaty of Westminster (1674).
The systematic encroachment of the royal Prerogatives demonstrated the temper of the Parliament. It had changed since the Restoration and was becoming as intractable as the Long Parliament of 1640.
The next government under Danby showed some success in Parliamentary management but even his experiment, as under Clarendon and Cabal, of regulating the relation between the Crown and the Parliament proved a failure.
“The Cavalier Parliament had extended its control over the expenditure of supply, sought to subject diplomacy and the issues of peace and war to its own purposes and tried to assert Parliamentary control over the militia. It had attacked and overthrown ministers by impeachment. It had denied to the Crown dispensing power in ecclesiastical affairs, and deprived it by statute of the right to employ non-Anglicans in its service.”
In 1679, the Parliament passed the, Habeas Corpus Act which prevented illegal and indefinite imprisonment. Except in cases where a person was arrested for Felony or treason, any other person might move the court for a writ of Habeas Corpus which would demand of the jailor to present the body, i.e. the person in whose favour the writ would be issued, on pain of punishment, for the scrutiny of the court.
In cases where ends of law would justify the person so produced would be granted bail. This Act safeguarded individual liberty from its abuse by the administration.
The last ten years of Charles Il’s reign were most complicated in the political history of England. It was during this period that the two great historic political parties of England—the Whig and the Tory- were formed. The court party composed of the Cavaliers formed the Tory party under Donby’s management.
The Country party, later called the Whigs was founded by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, later Earl of Shaftesbury one of the greatest political fighters in English history. Shaftesbury was opposed to any extension of royal power and to his mind slavery and popery were synonymous.
In 1678 Titus Oates made a deposition before a London magistrate about a Jesuit plot to murder the king and that the Jesuits were going to set fire to London and betray the country to the French. This ended in the trial and execution of many innocent Catholics. But where the Parliament was hotly busy was the Exclusion Bill for depriving Duke of York from succession.
The leader of this move was Shaftesbury. But his preference of Duke of Monmouth, Charles Il’s eldest illegitimate son, to the Duke of York became unpopular. In the mean time the so-called Popish plotters were being hounded down. All this produced a reaction, particularly due to execution of Lord Strafford an old man of 69 on perjured evidence.
The Papish fury began to cool down as people ceased to believe the concocted story of Oates. It was at this time when the Whigs had worked their own ruin Charles dissolved the Parliament (1681) and the Exclusion Bill failed. Charles struck hard at the Whigs, demanded the charter of London and appointed a Tory Mayor and Tory officers, thereby striking the Whigs where they were strong.
In 1683 the final attempt on the part of the Whigs was the concoction of a plot to murder the king and Duke of York at Rye House (1683). Lord Russell a Whig leader was found implicated in the concocted plot was tried and condemned to death.
Sydney, another leader of the party was likewise condemned to death. All this broke up the Whig party for the time being. The last two years (1683- 185) were a period of enjoyment of his triumph by Charles. He died in 1685.
Charles II’s success despite the changing temper of the Parliament since Restoration was largely due to his suppleness and adaptability. Schooled by adversity to cultivate patience and weariness, alert to see the strength and weakness of his opponents and resolute in defending his dynasty, he felt that the powers still inherent in the Crown might still be exercised to Safeguard the Crown’s supremacy in the constitution.
Determined from the first never again to go on his travels. Charles II well understood when to yield and when not. True that many of the royal prerogatives had been encroached upon by the Parliament, but considering the changed temper of the Commons, whatever Charles II could safeguard certainly pointed to his triumph.
Never perhaps Charles II showed his cool-headedness than when the Exclusion Bill was being hotly debated in the Parliament and the Popish Plot had made the nation panic-striken.
He successfully played for time and when Shaftesbury and his Whigs began to become unpopular due to reaction their violence had set in, Charles dealt hard measures to the Whigs and left the throne to his brother after enjoying his triumph for two years.
6. Origin of Political Parties: Whig and Tory:
The germ of the Party System in England is to be found during the period of Civil War when the English people were divided into Cavaliers, that is the royalists and the Roundhead’s, i.e. adherents of the Parliamentary party who opposed the king’s arbitrary exercise of prerogatives.
The Roundheads were so-called from their custom of having their hairs close cut. After the Restoration these parties came to be known as the Court party and the Country party mutually opposed in the Parliament. The Country party was organised by Danby who was a good Parliamentary manager and even did not hesitate to practise underhand means to keep the Court party united.
The Country party was organised by Earl of Shaftesbury and William Russell and was opposed to prerogatives and monopoly of political power by the Anglicans. But the names Whig and Tory came to be used during the debates on the Exclusion Bill to defeat Duke of York’s claim to the throne. Both the names were originally terms of abuse.
When Charles II in order to hold back the attack on the succession of Duke of York, had adjourned the Parliament Shaftesbury’s party petitioned him (king) to recall Parliament and so they were nicknamed Petitioners. The king’s friends were shocked at this alt-tempt to force the king to use his prerogative to call the Parliament and so were nicknamed Abhorrers by the party of the Petitioners.
Thereafter came the two names Whigs and Tories, the Whigs from the popular name of the stubborn Covenanters of south-west Scotland, i.e. rebel Scottish Presbyterians, and Tories a favourite insult of Oates, meaning rebel Irish Papists, used by the Whigs to denote their opponents.
Whig, a Scottish word also meant sour milk and Tory an Irish word meant robber. These contemptuous terms were hurled against each other by the two opposing parties in the Parliament when controversy over the Exclusion Bill grew bitter.