Charles II, Commonwealth, Declaration of Breda, Dover, King Charles I of England, King Charles II of England, King Henri IV of France and Navarre, King of Ireland, King of Scots, Lord Protector, Restoration, Richard Cromwell
May 25, 1660 – King Charles II lands at Dover at the invitation of the Convention Parliament (England), which marks the end of the Cromwell-proclaimed Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland and begins the Restoration (1660) of the British monarchy.
Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685)[c] was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685.
Charles II was the eldest surviving child of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Henrietta-Maria de Bourbon of France, the youngest daughter of HenrI IV of France and his second wife, Marie de’ Medici.
After Charles I’s execution at Whitehall on January 30, 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War, the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II king on February 5, 1649. However, England entered the period known as the English Interregnum or the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell defeated Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland.
After the death of Cromwell in 1658, Charles’s initial chances of regaining the Crown seemed slim; Cromwell was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son, Richard. However, the new Lord Protector had little experience of either military or civil administration.
On May 25, 1659, after the Rump Parliament agreed to pay his debts and provide a pension, Richard Cromwell delivered a formal letter resigning the position of Lord Protector. “Richard was never formally deposed or arrested, but allowed to fade away. The Protectorate was treated as having been from the first a mere usurpation.”
During the civil and military unrest that followed Cromwell’s resignation George Monck, the Governor of Scotland, was concerned that the nation would descend into anarchy. Monck and his army marched into the City of London, and forced the Rump Parliament to re-admit members of the Long Parliament, who had been sympathetic to the Crown, and who had been excluded in December 1648 during Pride’s Purge.
The Long Parliament dissolved itself and there was a general election for the first time in almost 20 years. The outgoing Parliament defined the electoral qualifications intending to bring about the return of a Presbyterian majority.
The restrictions against royalist candidates and voters were widely ignored, and the elections resulted in a House of Commons that was fairly evenly divided on political grounds between Royalists and Parliamentarians and on religious grounds between Anglicans and Presbyterians.
The new so-called Convention Parliament assembled on April 25, 1660, and soon afterwards welcomed the Declaration of Breda, in which Charles II promised lenience and tolerance. There would be liberty of conscience and Anglican church policy would not be harsh.
He would not exile past enemies nor confiscate their wealth. There would be pardons for nearly all his opponents except the regicides. Above all, Charles promised to rule in cooperation with Parliament. The English Parliament resolved to proclaim Charles king and invite him to return, a message that reached Charles at Breda on May 8, 1660. In Ireland, a convention had been called earlier in the year, and had already declared for Charles. On May 14, he was proclaimed King of Ireland in Dublin.
Charles II set out for England from Scheveningen, arrived in Dover on May 25, 1660 and reached London on May 29, his 30th birthday. Although Charles and Parliament granted amnesty to nearly all of Cromwell’s supporters in the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, 50 people were specifically excluded.
In the end nine of the regicides were executed: they were hanged, drawn and quartered; others were given life imprisonment or simply excluded from office for life. The bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw were subjected to the indignity of posthumous decapitations.