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The Restoration Under Charles Ii Essay

1557 words - 7 pages

The Restoration Under Charles II

Generally, the English people had a great celebration when Charles II returned to the throne in May of 1660.1 Many believed that restoring the monarchy was the only way to secure constitutional rights. In fact, there was an expectation that bringing back the king would return life to the way it was before 1642 and the rule of Cromwell. Charles II was responsible for improving the government for the people. However, despite some achievements, the king was not very successful in creating a stronger and more effective monarchy. He was dependent on his advisors and other parts of the government from the very beginning of his reign. There were ...view middle of the document...

Smaller committees within the council made all the major decisions.3 The king looked to the Privy Council for help in solving the country’s problems. Clarendon’s main objective for the council was to lessen the power of Parliament. Since the king relied a large deal on the council for making decisions, Parliament did not meet as often.4 Clarendon also knew that the militia was a major part of government, but he wanted to keep the army small. He knew that a large army would make the people nervous about an absolutist monarchy. A small militia kept the country safe from a possible foreign attack.5

There was one main issue that Clarendon and Charles disagreed on very strongly: religious tolerance. Clarendon believed in using coercive acts to eliminate dissenters. However, Charles did not want to persecute people with different religious beliefs if they were not causing problems for England. In April of 1660, he put these ideas into effect with the Breda Declaration. This declaration was the first of many signs that Charles was impartial to Catholics. Parliament, however, sided with Clarendon on this conflict. In 1661, Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity. The act ended all tolerance for Presbyterianism and forced all of its followers to agree to everything in the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer. Parliament also refused to accept the king’s ideas of toleration and ruled that the Breda Declaration had no merit.

Parliament then went one step further by passing the Clarendon Code. The members of Parliament believed that Catholics and other dissenters would continue to spread their ideas and cause problems for the government if they were allowed to practice their faith. They thought that persecuting these dissenters would end the conflict and cause everyone to unite. The Code outlawed all religious practices that were not Anglican, and it stated that dissenters would not be allowed to hold government positions.6 As a result of the Clarendon Code, people who refused to follow the Anglican faith were rejected from the Church of England and other parts of English society.7

By the end of 1662, it became clear that the restored Church of England was not well received by many people. Also, the legislation passed by Parliament was not fulfilling its goals of religious unity.8 Charles wanted more people to be content with the government. He agreed to the Act of Uniformity because he wanted to be safe from radical dissenters, but he did not want persecution to be so harsh. So on December 26, 1662, Charles made the Declaration of Indulgence. This declaration lessened the severity of religious persecutions and attempted to make dissenters loyal subjects of the king. When Parliament began another session in February 1663, Charles brought his ideas before its members, hoping they would pass a formal indulgence. However, Parliament would not agree to his ideas. Charles never did formally take...

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