The Commonweath period ended after the death of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector in 1658 and the brief stint of his son, Richard Cromwell, in the same position which lasted until May 12, 1659. There followed a period of virtual anrachy as the great ship of state was left without a captain. In steps George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, General of the Army in Scotland. Fearing the country would fall further into disarray he marched his army south into London and forced the Rump Parliament to reinstate the Long Parliament which had the monarchist members ejected during Pride’s Purge toward the end of the Civil War. This new pro-Monarchist Parliament restored Charles II to his throne in May of 1660.
Charles II was now the rightful King of England and Scotland having been legally called to the throne by Parliamanet. At the time of his restoration Charles was 30 years old, unmarried and his brothers, Prince James, Duke of York and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester were the male hiers to the throne. Prince Henry did not live long with his brother as king, he died, unmarried, from smallpox in September of 1660 at the age of 20. This left his bother, the Duke of York, as hier to the throne. One of the responsibilities of kingship is to provide for the succession. Although Charles had a string of mistresses and many natural children he needed to find a wife. His choice of bride was the Catholic Princess, Catherine of Braganza, the daughter of King João IV of Portugal and Luisa de Guzmán. The queen was not popular in England due to her belonging to the Catholic faith. It is difficult to say whether this was a love match or not. Chalres always dealt with his wife with kindness and consideration but it did not stop him from bringing a consistent flow of mistresses to his bed.
One of the sad aspects of the marriage between Charles and Catherine is that the union did not produce any legitimate hiers. Catherine became pregnant and miscarried three times during the course of her marriage. By the late 1670s many people began to fear that the Duke of York would succeed his brother. The problem with this is that at this time James, Duke of York had openly converted to Catholicism and as a Protestant Nation there were many that did not want another Catholic King sitting on the throne. One of the positive apsect of the possible accession of James as King of England and the Scots was the fact that he had two Protestant duaghters who could succeed him, Princesses Mary and Anne. In 1677 Princess Mary of York married the Protestant Prince Willem III of Orange who was also her first cousin, being the son of Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, sister to both Charles II and the Duke of York. At the time of their marriage Willem was fourth in line to the English and Scottish thrones.
There was such anti-Catholic feeling in the air at this time when a rumor was started by a defrocked Anglican clergyman, Titus Oates, that a “Popish Plot” to assassinate Charles II and to put the Duke of York on the throne, it eventually lead to a bill being propposed in Parilament to exclude the Duke of York from the Succession. There were some members of Parliament that wanted to replace the Duke of York with James Scott, The 1st Duke of Monmouth and eldest illigitimate son of Charles II and his mistress Lucy Walter. In 1679, with the Exclusion Bill one the verge of passing into law, Charles had Parliament dissolved four times that year. During the 1680s the popularity of the Exclusion Bill fadded and when Charles II died he was legally and lawfully succeeded by his brother who became James II-VII, King of England and King of Scots.
There was a brief attempt to usurp the the throne from James when his nephew, James Scott, The 1st Duke of Monmouth tried to depose his uncle. Feeling that his Protestantism would outweigh his illegitimacy the Mounmouth Rebellion tried to depose King James II-VII. The rebellion failed and despite please for mercy from the Duke of Monmouth to his uncle, the Duke was executed July 1685, on Tower Hill. Reports range from anywhere from 5-8 blows to sever his head.