Convention Parliament, Declaration of Breda. George Monck, King Charles II of England Scotland and Ireland, Lord Halifax, Restoration, Rump Parliament
After the failed attempt to maintain the Scottish throne, Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Netherlands.
The major motivator in restoring Charles to the throne was George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle JP KG PC (December 6, 1608 – January 3, 1670) who was an English soldier, who fought on both sides during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Monck was also a prominent military figure under the Commonwealth.
When Oliver Cromwell died in September 1658, Monck transferred his support to Cromwell’s son Richard, who was appointed Lord Protector. The Third Protectorate Parliament elected in January 1659 was dominated by moderate Presbyterians like Monck and Royalist sympathisers, whose main objective was to reduce the power and expense of the military.
In April, army radicals led by John Lambert and Charles Fleetwood dissolved Parliament and forced the resignation of Richard Cromwell. Sometimes known as the Wallingford House Party, the new regime abolished the Protectorate, reseated the Rump Parliament dismissed by Cromwell in 1653 and began removing officers and officials of suspect loyalty, including many of those serving in Scotland.
Monck was left in place largely because rumours of another Royalist rising made it preferable to retain him. Both his cousin John Grenville and brother Nicholas were connected with the Royalist underground and in July 1659, Nicholas brought him a personal appeal from Charles II, asking for his help.
When Booth’s Uprising broke out in August 1659, Monck considered joining it but the revolt collapsed before he had the time to commit himself. In October, the Wallingford House group dismissed the Rump Parliament before being forced to reinstate it in early December.
By the end of 1659, England appeared to be drifting into anarchy, with widespread demands for new elections and an end to military rule. Monck declared his support for the Rump Parliament against the Republican faction led by Lambert, while co-ordinating with Sir Theophilus Jones, a former colleague in Ireland who seized Dublin Castle in late December.
At the same time, he marched his army to the English border, supported by a force raised by former New Model Army commander Sir Thomas Fairfax. Outnumbered and unpaid, Lambert’s troops melted away; and on February 2, 1660 Monck entered London.
Monck forced the Rump Parliament to re-admit members of the Long Parliament who had been excluded in December 1648, during Pride’s Purge. 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.
While Monck’s backing was essential to the Restoration, modern historians question whether the policy was initiated by Monck as opposed to following majority opinion, which by now was overwhelmingly in favour of reinstating the monarchy.
Although elected MP for Devon, external observers noted Monck had little interest in politics while the lack of a regional power base in England and the proposed reduction of the army mitigated his future influence.
Nevertheless, the Declaration of Breda issued by Charles on April 4, 1660 was largely based on Monck’s recommendations. It promised a general pardon for actions committed during the civil wars and Interregnum, with the exception of the regicides, retention by the current owners of property purchased during the same period, religious toleration and payment of arrears to the army.
Charles promised to rule in cooperation with Parliament, and on May 8, the Convention Parliament proclaimed Charles as King and further stated that King Charles II had been the lawful monarch since the execution of Charles I on 30 January 30, 1649. Historian Tim Harris describes it: “Constitutionally, it was as if the last nineteen years had never happened.”
In Ireland, a convention had been called earlier in the year and had already declared for Charles. On May 14, he was proclaimed king in Dublin.
Charles returned from exile, leaving the Hague on May 23 and landing at Dover on May 25. The King triumphantly entered London on May 29, 1660, his 30th birthday. To celebrate His Majesty’s Return to his Parliament, 29 May was made a public holiday, popularly known as Oak Apple Day. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1661.
Tomorrow I will give my personal opinion on when Charles II assumed the title of King.