The monarchy is restored. Religious differences continue to simmer under the surface and a constitutional crisis is provoked when James II declares himself a Catholic and produces a son. The Dutch Protestant husband of Mary, James' eldest daughter by his first wife, is invited to becomes joint monarch with his wife. The reorganisation of government is known as the Glorious Revolution.
On the death of Oliver Cromwell, the polity of England behaved like a headless chicken. Cromwell nominated his son Richard to be his successor as Lord Protector, but Richard was incapable of controlling the wave of civil and military unrest which was set off as various interests struggled for influence and power. He resigned in 1659 and went to live in obscurity. General John Lambert, acting on behalf of the army high command, invited the Rump Parliament, which now consisted of only 78 members, to return. When Parliament attempted to take control of the army in October, the generals set up a Committee of Safety.
Powerful elements, led by George Monck, were beginning to consider the restoration of Charles Stuart to the throne of England as the best means of avoiding further turmoil.
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Monck had taken over Cromwell’s command in Scotland following the battle of Dunbar and capture of Edinburgh in 1650. He proved himself a competent and reliable General at Sea when he won the battle of Scheveningen against the Dutch in 1653. Cromwell then entrusted him with the governorship of Scotland. He witnessed the growing anarchy in England following Cromwell’s death and in October 1559 he prepared his army to march south. Lambert was sent to oppose him, but Thomas Fairfax, the greatly-respected founder of the New Model Army, mobilized a group of gentlemen and persuaded significant numbers of Lambert’s men to defect, speedily followed by the breaking up of Lambert's entire force. Because of this and his honourable conduct on and off the battlefield, Fairfax was exempted from the retribution exacted on many other leaders of the Revolution by the incoming regime. In early January 1660 Monck’s army crossed the border and headed south.
He marched into London and forced the Rump Parliament to re-admit members of the Long Parliament who had been excluded by Pride’s purge in 1648. The Long Parliament, elected in 1640, finally dissolved itself and a general election returned the Convention Parliament. Monck was returned as MP for both Devon and the University of Cambridge.
Charles Stuart accepted constitutional proposals suggested by Monck and issued the Declaration of Breda, which proclaimed a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. It offered a pardon for all crimes committed during the Civil Wars and the Protectorate (except for those held responsible for the execution of Charles I), religious toleration and payment of the army’s arrears of pay. The New Model Army was to be disbanded and recommissioned in the service of the Crown. On 1st May 1660 the Convention Parliament invited Charles to return to England as King Charles II. An Irish convention had already declared support for him and he had been crowned King of Scotland in 1651. The new king rewarded Monck with a Garter knighthood and the Dukedom of Albemarle. Monck continued to lead an active life, being involved in London during the Great Plague and the Great Fire. He also fought in the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
The Restoration of the Monarchy is most notable for the complete change in morals and behaviour that accompanied the return of Charles II to England. Theatres were reopened and new productions, full of bawdy humour, were completely at odds with the puritanical ethos of the Protectorate years. Women actors were allowed on the stage for the first time. Christmas, May Day and other public holidays were celebrated again with all their customary frivolity. Dancing and gambling were permitted, alehouses were reopened and the Sabbath observance laws were relaxed. Many higher-born members of society became noted for their immoral and even outrageous behaviour. The urban middle class also cast off the simple, Puritan mode of living and consumed quantities of luxury products such as tea, coffee, chocolate, fine imported textiles and Paris fashions.
The king led the upheaval in moral standards. His hedonistic character was openly acknowledged and he had at least twelve illegitimate children by various mistresses. He loved gambling and horse-racing. Nevertheless, he had an inquiring nature and encouraged the new ideas of young scientists and natural philosophers. In the first year of his reign, he founded the Royal Society for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, the oldest national scientific institution in the world.
Also in his first year he avenged his father’s death. The bodies of Cromwell, his son in law Ireton and John Bradshaw, the president of the court which passed the death sentence on Charles I, were exhumed, hanged and beheaded; their bodies were flung into a pit below the gallows and their heads were displayed on spikes in Westminster Hall. Other living regicides were hanged, drawn and quartered and nineteen others were imprisoned for life. Twenty one escaped to live overseas. In Scotland, Archibald Campbell, Marquess of Argyll and leader of the Covenanters’ Party, was one of four men executed for treason.
Parliament agreed to grant the king an annual income of £1.2 million, generated largely from customs and excise duties. In return, the remaining feudal rights of the Crown were abolished. The actual revenue never achieved the projected figure and was not sufficient to cover the costs of the free-spending royal household. New innovative taxes like the unpopular Hearth Tax were raised a little later in the reign to help with the king’s expenses.
In 1661 the strongly royalist Cavalier Parliament was summoned and remained in existence for eighteen years. It immediately ordered the public burning of the Solemn League and Covenant by a common hangman (this was the agreement made in 1643 between the English and Scottish Parliaments that the Church in England and Ireland was to be reformed on Presbyterian principles). The Militia Act put the armed services under the king’s control. The Church of England was restored to its condition prior to the overthrow of Charles I: ministers ousted during the Interregnum period were restored to their positions, as were bishops - who once more sat in the House of Lords. The Corporation Act was the first of a series, known as the Clarendon Code, designed to ensure the primacy of the Church of England and adherence to its rule by those in positions of authority. Groups of more than five people were forbidden to gather for worship except in the Church of England and dissenting ministers were not allowed to teach in schools. Nonconformists were unable to gain degrees at the universities. Much of the Declaration of Breda was undone by those acts. For a time the Code excluded Nonconformists as well as Catholics from public Office. Over two thousand clergy refused to comply with one or more of the requirements and so were forced to resign their livings. Parliament also tried to censor the spread of seditious information by pamphleteers with a Press Licensing Act.
Charles II reneged on his oath to accept the Covenant, made when he became king of Scotland in 1651. He appointed John Maitland, Lord Lauderdale, as Secretary of State in Scotland who oversaw measures to restore an episcopalian church. The Abjuration Act of 1662 reinstated bishops and effectively barred most Presbyterians from holding public office. About a third of Church ministers in Scotland resigned their livings and preached to congregations at conventicles in open fields. Conventicles were declared illegal and the penalty for preachers was death. In 1678, a force of 6,000 Highland militia, remembered as the ´Highland Host´, was billeted on the Covenanting shires and plundered their hosts which provoked a rebellion the following year. The Archbishop of St Andrews was murdered and the king’s eldest illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth was sent to quell the rebellion at the battle of Bothwell Brig. In 1684 a Covenanters Declaration was published which refused to acknowledge the king’s authority. The Scottish Privy Council responded by ordering everyone to abjure the declaration on pain of death. A period of lethal persecution, known as the Killing Time, began and only ended when James II & VII was overthrown in 1689.
In Ireland it proved difficult to undo the Cromwellian seizure of Catholic-owned lands and its redistribution among Protestant colonists. However, feudalism was abolished, in line with the same event in England. Attempts were made to redistribute land from Cromwellian beneficiaries into the hands of Royalists and Anglo-Irish Catholics, but few Gaelic Irish recovered their land and less than 25% of Irish land remained in Catholic hands at the end of Charles II’s reign. The net result was gains for the great noble landlords and losses for the lesser gentry. Similarly, neither Catholics nor Presbyterians were satisfied with the new religious settlement, but there was some degree of toleration and penal laws were laxly enforced. James Butler Duke of Ormonde, a loyal royalist who was Lord Lieutenant under Charles I and again after the Restoration, played a great part in keeping the peace in Ireland, despite occasional vicious and violent attempts to undermine him at court.
The chief minister to Charles II during the early years of his reign was Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, who had also been an advisor to his father. His daughter Anne Hyde married James Duke of York and both her daughters, Mary and Anne, became queens of England. The Duchess became a Catholic and helped persuade James to follow suit. Although it was named for him, Clarendon disliked much of the anti-recusant content of the Clarendon Code. His health was poor and he survived a feeble attempt to impeach him in 1663, but lost favour due to the enmity of Barbara Villiers, the king’s mistress, and other enemies. In 1667 he went into exile and spent the rest of his life working on The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, the classic contemporary account of the Civil Wars.
In addition to sorting out the aftermath of the Protectorate years, the new royal regime had to deal with growing social and economic problems. Many more people were trying to travel more speedily around the country, but the roads were in a shocking condition and were often impassable for the many coaches and carriages which were coming into use. In 1663, tollgates were authorised on the Great North Road and, within a few years, many other roads began to be maintained by payment of tolls. Hackney carriages were licensed for hire in town and city.
The worst social problem was the rise in poverty, partly caused by the number of ex-soldiers released into the population with no skills to maintain themselves. Sick and out of work paupers threatened to overwhelm the Poor Law systems of the richer communities and the Act of Settlement and Removal was added to the Elizabethan Poor Laws in 1662. Any pauper seeking assistance was quizzed by the local Justices about their work history and place of birth; those not connected to the place where they were seeking assistance were returned to the place judged to be their home parish. The system remained in place and created a heavy workload for JPs, parish Overseers of the Poor and local carriers until 1834.
In 1665, the Great Plague struck London. Most people of any consequence left the city and the royal court and Parliament moved to Oxford. The parish graveyards of London, already stinking from overuse caused by the high death-rate of an overcrowded, unhealthy city, could not cope with the enormous increase in deaths; mass grave pits had to be dug to deal with more than 70,000 plague victims who are estimated to have died in the city that year. Other parts of the country were also badly hit by plague until it died out in the following year. This was the last visitation of the Bubonic Plague which had afflicted the country on many occasions since its first appearance as the Black Death in 1348.
That same year the Second Anglo-Dutch War began; its causes were both economic and political. Ever since the first war between the nations, the Dutch had squeezed English merchants out of traditional markets with Spain and its Mediterranean and American possessions. They had also taken over much of the Portuguese business in the East Indies and were keen to prevent the English East India Company expanding into their valuable trade in spices. Closer to home, they had checked Swedish ambitions and dominated trade in the Baltic. Their navy had been rebuilt and was a threat to English dominance in the North Sea and Channel. Clarendon, fearing the ambition of Louis XIV of France, favoured a closer relationship with the republic, but James Duke of York the Lord High Admiral considered that Dutch trading competition was a greater threat to England’s interests. He and the king were also concerned that the ruling States General of the United Dutch Provinces were intent on continuing an agreement made with Cromwell to exclude the House of Orange-Nassau from power in the republic. The current head of the house was William of Orange, the son of their late sister Mary, who had nominated her brother Charles to be guardian of her son. However Jan de Witt and his fellow leaders of the republic assumed responsibility for the young prince’s general education and upbringing and were determined to keep the House of Orange out of government.
James began to allow his captains to interfere with Dutch shipping and considerable number of vessels were captured, but de Witt continued to pursue a policy of neutrality. James was also head of the Royal Africa Company and in 1664 he sent a squadron of five navy ships which attacked and captured Dutch ships and trading posts on the Guinea coast, including Cape Coast Castle, which became the centre of The Royal Africa Company operations, including slave trading, on the Gold Coast. Shortly afterwards another expedition captured the Dutch colony of New York and renamed it New York.
Finally, the Dutch were provoked into armed response and the Second Anglo-Dutch War began. In June 1665 an English fleet commanded by the Duke of York defeated a Dutch fleet off Lowestoft. Although the Dutch lost 17 ships with many men killed or taken prisoner, the bulk of their fleet got away and they soon made good their losses. For the rest of that year Charles II and his government were completely preoccupied with the effects of the plague.
The next year another tragedy struck London. In September, most of the city inside the Roman wall was burnt down by a fire which raged for four days. Thatched roofs and the timber cladding used to construct many of the old buildings which lined the narrow streets assisted the spread of the fire before a strong easterly wind. Combustible materials such as tar, turpentine, sugar and animal fats, stored in the warehouses and shops also fed the inferno. The cathedral of old St Paul’s and 87 parish churches were destroyed, along with most of the great commercial and institutional buildings of the City. Coal stored in the cellars continued to burn many weeks later. Many poorer Londoners spent at least one winter camping out at Smithfield and other open spaces, whilst their city was being rebuilt. The death toll was said to be relatively light, but England’s greatest commercial hub was trashed. People were quick to blame Dutch and French nationals for the disaster and some were lynched. Order was restored and a firefighting strategy was eventually put in place by James Duke of York. In the months after the fire, attempts to plan a remodelled city failed. Much of the old street plan was recreated in the new City; some streets were widened and buildings were constructed of brick, stone and tiles instead of wood and thatch. A magnificent new St Paul’s was planned by Sir Christopher Wren who also oversaw the building of 50 new churches.
These events crippled the war effort. Tax collection from the country’s centre of wealth was almost impossible. The Treasury turned to the City financiers, but interest rates soared. Sailors and naval suppliers went unpaid. Furthermore, Louis XIV, who had at first promoted peace between the two warring parties, declared war on England with the intent of blind-siding the Dutch by occupying the Spanish Netherlands. The Dutch bribed Denmark to enter the war on their side. Two old antagonists now took charge of events at sea for England: Prince Rupert, who had gained a reputation as a skilful naval commander after his earlier cavalier exploits on behalf of Charles I, prevented Louis XIV’s fleet joining up with the Dutch fleet at Dunkirk, whilst George Monck, the Parliamentarian general who restored Charles II to the throne, engaged the Dutch fleet in the Four Days’ Battle. The result was indecisive, but by now lack of finance was crippling the English war effort. Sailors were laid off and the most powerful warships were laid up, whereas the Dutch once more soon made good their losses.
Clarendon urged Charles to make peace, but the Dutch would not yield on the question of restoration of the house of Orange. De Witt, perceiving that England was virtually defenceless, landed a marine force at Chatham. The strongest ships in the English fleet which lay at anchor there were at their mercy; many of them were burnt or destroyed and the flagship Royal Charles was towed back to Holland as a trophy. The raid was the most humiliating disaster in the history of the Royal Navy.
In July 1667, a weary England and the Dutch Republic, which was now greatly concerned by the French invasion of its neighbour the Spanish Netherlands, sealed a peace treaty at Breda. Britain retained control of New York, formerly Nieuw Amsterdam, and the Dutch regained control of a disputed nutmeg island in the East Indies, as well as Tobago and other sugar islands in the Caribbean. France gave up the English part of St Kitts and the islands of Antigua and Monserrat in return for the return of occupied parts of Acadia, an undefined area in North America. At about the same time, England’s long-running war with Spain was ended with the treaty of Madrid, as England and Spain were both affected by Louis’ invasion of the Spanish Netherlands. At the end of this process, Charles dismissed Clarendon who was forced into exile to avoid impeachment for high treason.
A group of five men now became the king’s advisory committee which be-came known as the CABAL, from the first letter of each of their names – Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley and Lauderdale, the Scottish Secretary of State. The cabal seldom acted in unison and was usually divided into two factions led by Arlington and Buckingham.
De Witt was by now seriously concerned by the prospect of France as a neighbour and he cajoled Charles II into a short-lived triple alliance with the republic and Sweden against French expansion, although Charles had earlier made a secret deal with Louis XIV in which he promised not to intervene if France invaded the Spanish Netherlands. It was now clear that Spain, despite its vast possessions, was a fading power and France was aiming to replace it as Europe’s most powerful state. Although the alliance was short-lived, it marks the first step in cooperation between European states intent on preventing French hegemony that continued into the following century. England became determined to maintain a balance of power in Europe which prevented any one state becoming too powerful.
Louis XIV hastened to make peace in 1668, but maintained a hostile posture towards the Dutch Republic, as he wished to restore Antwerp to its former position of being an entrepot port controlling trade with Germany which had been lost to the Dutch. Charles II had a personal preference for being allied to France, because of de Witt’s opposition to the House of Orange, with which Charles maintained family connections. Louis XIV was also his cousin and Charles probably felt more affinity for the increasing splendour of the French court and Louis’ style of government. In 1670 he and Louis formulated the secret Treaty of Dover: Charles would become a Catholic at some future date and Louis would assuage Charles’ constant money problems with a yearly pension of £230,000; in return England would aid France with warships and a military force to be used in Louis’ forthcoming war against the Dutch Republic; France would also send troops if there was any resistance at the time when Charles announced his conversion. A public Anglo-French treaty was also announced by the Cabal, which had no idea of the secret Charles was concealing from his people.
Louis XIV declared war on the Dutch republic in April 1672 and Charles II started the Third Anglo-Dutch War the following day. The French quickly drove back the Dutch army to shelter behind its protective flooded defences. De Witt who had prepared for another naval war, was driven from office. He was wounded and then assassinated by Orange opponents. William III of Orange, now in command of the Dutch army, kept the enemy at bay throughout 1672/3. Charles found himself involved in a war with his nephew which was expensive and unpopular. The navy was severely mauled and not well-supported by its French allies. Parliament was recalled and refused to support a war budget.
The Test Act was passed to counter the Declaration of Indulgence by which the king hoped to give liberty of religion to Catholics and Protestant dissenters. This led to the Duke of York’s resignation as Lord High Admiral because he had secretly become a Catholic and was unable to comply with the Test Act regulations. In September 1673 James, whose first wife Anne had recently died, married the Catholic Mary of Modena, a beautiful young girl especially selected for him by his cousin Louis XIV. Those in the know were confronted with the possibility that the king, having no legitimate descendants, might be succeeded by a Catholic dynasty. When Mary gave birth to a son the following year, unease spread throughout Protestant England and the king ordered that James’ daughters by his first marriage be raised in the Anglican faith. Members of the Cabal came to learn the secret details of the Dover Treaty and began to support the peace movement. One of them Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, even began to consider removing the House of Stuart entirely. His secretary, the philosopher John Locke, drew up the legal concepts which would later be the founding principles of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
Charles realised adverse public opinion, lack of financial support from Parliament and opposition from loyal supporters like Prince Rupert made further participation in the war dangerous to his own personal position. A treaty was hastily agreed by which the Treaty of Breda was renewed, New York was confirmed as an English possession and a commission to regulate commerce, particularly in the East Indies, was appointed. The Dutch would pay an indemnity to cover the cost of the war (although this was never paid, as William of Orange claimed it back to pay off debts Charles I owed to the House of Orange). William also turned a blind eye on an English brigade led by the Duke of Monmouth which continued to fight on the French side in return for the secret subsidy which Louis XIV continued to pay to Charles.
There were public suggestions that the stoutly Protestant William of Orange should replace the king’s brother as heir to the crown. The Cabal was in disarray, lost influence and was succeeded in the king’s favour by Thomas Osborne Earl of Danby. He was, however, a firm Anglican and supported rigid enforcement of the laws against Catholics, their banishment from court and the suppression of secret or unlawful religious meetings. Charles II was a cynic, but even he found it impossible to pretend to go along with Danby’s more extreme proposals. However, Danby had sound foreign policy principles. He was opposed to the growing ascendancy of France and supported closer relations with the Dutch. In 1677 he organised the marriage of Mary, eldest daughter of the Duke of York, to William of Orange, despite her father’s opposition.
Religion was still a very divisive subject. In 1678 an unstable Anglican priest named Titus Oates began spreading wild rumours about a ‘Popish Plot’ to assassinate the king. Charles II who knew a liar when he saw one personally questioned Oates and ordered his arrest for perjury, but Parliament insisted on his release. In the next three years, an anti-Catholic mood of hysteria seized the country and Parliament; Catholics were excluded from London and a second Test Act was passed which excluded Catholics from membership of both Houses of Parliament (a law not repealed until 1829). The courts began sentencing men to death for high treason on the flimsiest of evidence: Lord Stafford was found guilty and beheaded on December 21st 1680 and Lord Petre died in the Tower in 1683 as he awaited his trial. Finally reason prevailed and judges began to order the acquittal of the accused, but not before two Irish archbishops had been executed. In August 1681 Oates was found guilty of sedition and was thrown into gaol. Oates was tried again in 1685 by Judge Jeffreys and the extra sentence of being annually pilloried and whipped through the streets was added to his sentence.
The public hostility towards Catholics engendered by the Popish Plot caused Lord Shaftesbury to move that the king's brother James be excluded from the royal succession. During the parliamentary debates on the matter, two new political parties came into being who were insulted with derogatory names; the Tories, whose name originated with dispossessed Irish Catholic bandits, were opposed to the exclusion of James, while the ‘Country Party’, who supported it came to be called Whigs, a name given to rebellious Scottish Presbyterians. Charles dissolved the Cavalier Parliament but its successor, called in 1679, was even more anti-Catholic and that was also dissolved, but not before it passed the constitutionally important Habeas Corpus Act which codified an earlier act.
Meanwhile, despite Danby’s anti-French policy, Charles was still receiving his pension from Louis XIV and tacitly supported French aims in Flanders and ultimate Catholic ascendancy. Louis clearly valued Charles’ secret support and raised his pension in 1678 in order to secure England’s continued neutrality. Although Danby acquiesced in the shady dealings between Charles and Louis, he feared that Charles II wished to adopt a form of French absolutist government and he remained true to the national interest. Danby piloted a financial package through Parliament to pay for a war with France and sent troops to help the Dutch Republic. However he was known to be corrupt and was an unlikeable and very unpopular figure. One of his rivals, Ralph Montague, secured his downfall by having two incriminating letters written by Danby to Louis XIV read aloud to the House of Commons by the Speaker, although it was not revealed that postscripts signifying approval in the king’s own hand-writing and signed C R appeared at the foot of each letter. The House, already inflamed by the Popish Plot rumours, began impeachment proceedings against Danby at the end of 1678. Among charges of assuming royal powers, corruption and embezzlement he was accused of concealing the plot. Although he was saved by the prorogation of Parliament and the king pardoned him, he was remanded in the Tower, where he remained for the next five years. His life was in grave danger, but eventually he was set free in 1684 by Chief Justice Jeffreys on payment of a large bail fee.
The attempts to exclude James from the succession had failed in Parliament and the leading members of the Country or Whig party, headed by the Earl of Shaftesbury, had fled to Holland. In 1683 an informant revealed a failed plot to kill King Charles and the Duke of York as they rode by Rye House in Hertfordshire on returning from a race-meeting at Newmarket. The membership and aims of the conspiracy are unclear, although the Duke of Monmouth the king’s illegitimate son was certainly implicated. Plotters began trying to save their skins by informing on others. Twelve were executed including Elizabeth Gaunt, the last woman to be burnt at the stake for a political offence. Other included the Sheriff of London and Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney, former Lord Warden of the Cinq Ports. Among those who fled for safety abroad was Shaftesbury’s secretary, the political philosopher John Locke.
The Rye House Plot led to a surge of public sympathy for the king and his brother and in the last years of his reign Charles reigned without calling Parliament. The Whigs compared his methods to the absolutism of Louis XIV and the king prosecuted some of them, ensuring the trials went his way by packing juries with supporters and replacing unsatisfactory judges and sheriffs. Estates were seized and Whig sympathisers were disenfranchised. In 1683 the London Charter was withdrawn and the city was ruled by royally-appointed aldermen.
King Charles II suffered an apoplectic fit in February 1685 and died four days later aged 54. At the last, it was claimed he was received into the Catholic Church by a priest. Many historians sum up Charles II as duplicitous, cynical and self-indulgent, with poor judgement and no aptitude for stable and trustworthy government. Hilaire Belloc, however, was more generous pointing out that Charles was universally beloved not only by his dependents and nearly all those with whom he came in contact, but he was thoroughly popular with the mass of his subjects, especially with the poorer folk of London who knew him best. He had at least twelve children by various mistresses, but none by his legal wife Queen Catherine of Braganza. He was succeeded by his brother, the self-confessed Catholic James, and the stage was set for a full-scale religious trial of strength in the three kingdoms.
At first all was well and a new Parliament signified its loyalty to the new king and granted James II & VII a generous life income. However, some remained unreconciled to his Catholicism; his troublesome nephew the Duke of Monmouth landed in the West Country, seeking support as the true Protestant claimant to the throne. His rag-bag of an army was easily defeated at Sedgemoor, which is to date the last battle between armies to be fought on English soil. Monmouth was executed at a badly-botched beheading on Tower Hill and many of his followers were brought before Judge Jeffreys at the notorious Bloody Assizes; more than three hundred were hanged and hundreds more were transported to the sugar plantations of Barbados. Another rebellion in Scotland, led by Archibald Campbell ninth Earl of Argyll, was co-ordinated with Monmouth’s, but was easily put down and Argyll, already under sentence of death, was beheaded. Both rebels had set off to their doom from the Dutch Republic and William of Orange did nothing to prevent their departure.
James then set about increasing his standing army; among the beneficiaries was John Churchill, promoted to Major General after fighting as a colonel at Sedgemoor. Other appointments to command went to Catholics, which alarmed Parliament as they were officially disbarred from public offices by the Test Act. James prorogued the English Parliament in November 1685 and never called another.
However, he continued to correspond with his Scottish Parliament and encouraged the ongoing persecution of Presbyterians known as the ‘Killing Time’, whilst seeking greater latitude for Catholics. He showed further approval for the Catholic faith when he received a Papal Nuncio, the first to visit England since the time of Mary I. Onlookers viewed the appointment of Catholics to positions at court with deep disapproval. James obtained a ruling from the Court of King’s Bench that he was within his rights to dispense with an Act of Parliament and, in 1687, he issued the Declaration of Indulgence, which overruled the effect of the Clarendon Code and other laws which punished both Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters. In 1688, James ordered the Declaration to be read from the pulpits of every church, further alienating the majority of his Anglican subjects. The Archbishop of Canterbury and six bishops were arrested and tried for seditious libel when they tried to persuade the king to reconsider his policy. They were acquitted and anti-Catholic riots again erupted in England and Scotland.
It is interesting that a speech James made at Chester seeking support for the Declaration reveals that black people were no longer a rare sight in England: "suppose there should be a law made that all black men should be imprisoned, it would be unreasonable and we (should have) as little reason to quarrel with other men for being of different [religious] opinions as for being of different complexions."
James had become convinced that he could dispense with the support of Tories and Anglicans. He promoted Catholics to important positions at the University of Oxford and instituted a wholesale purge of those in offices under the crown who opposed his plans; he appointed new Lord Lieutenants and remodelled the Livery Companies of London and the corporations which governed the towns. Believing he now had control of the electoral process, James ordered the issue of writs for a general election in August 1688, but he was overtaken by events.
William of Orange, knowing another war with France was looming, had kept the situation in Britain under close observation. In June, The queen gave birth to James Francis Edward, a son and heir who replaced William’s wife Mary in the line of succession. The prince's birth opened the possibility of a permanent Catholic dynasty, which was intolerable to many who had previously regarded James’ rule as a temporary aberration. On 30 June 1688, a group of seven aristocrats invited William to invade England with an army; one of the signatories was Thomas Osborne Earl of Danby, the erstwhile disgraced minister to Charles II. James was confident his own army would be sufficient to deal with the threat and he turned down the offer of assistance from Louis XIV, knowing it would be unacceptable to most of his English subjects. However, many of the king’s officers, including John Churchill, defected and joined William as soon as he arrived on English shores. James's other daughter Anne also defected. Men continued to desert James’ army until he felt unable to oppose the invaders. He attempted to flee to France, but was captured in Kent. Not wishing to make him a martyr, William let him escape. Louis XIV made James welcome with offers of a palace and a pension.
In January 1689, a Convention Parliament considered James, had effectively abdicated when he dropped the Great Seal into the Thames and fled to France. His daughter Mary and her husband William were invited to rule England and Ireland jointly as William III & Mary II. The laws made for the future government of the country and arrangements for the inheritance of the crown became known as the Glorious Revolution. The most fundamental constitutional changes were enshrined in the Bill of Rights which made important alterations to the way England was governed. It gave Parliament much more power over the monarchy and planted the seeds for constitutional monarchy and political democracy. Specifically, the Bill acknowledged the right to hold regular parliaments, freedom of speech within parliament and free elections. Catholics were still restricted by the Test Act and it was established that no Catholic could take the crown and no monarch could marry a Catholic.
The Claim of Right Act 1689 applied similar rights in Scotland and the royal couple were accepted as King William II and Queen Mary II. An Act of Settlement also legalised Presbyterianism, abolished the episcopacy and put an end to the Killing Time. However, support for James survived among the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders, where Catholicism was still strong; the same was true in much of Ireland. Supporters of James and his heirs were known as Jacobites and they soon raised a force in Scotland, under the command of John Graham Viscount Dundee, a Tory episcopalian. They won a surprising victory against a superior Williamite force at the battle of Killiecrankie, but Graham was killed in the battle and the insurrection quickly petered out. The government offered the clan chiefs a cash incentive to sign an oath of allegiance and threatened severe retribution for those who failed to sign. The mainly episcopalian Glencoe section of the clan MacDonald, accused of failing to comply, was singled out for an attack on their homes and property by men from Argyll’s Foot Regiment led by Robert Campbell. The event in which about 30 MacDonalds were killed is remembered as the Glencoe Massacre.
In Ireland, Catholics, led by Richard Talbot Earl of Tyrconnell, conducted a pro-longed siege of the Protestant town of Londonderry. Ex-King James joined Tyrconnell with 6,000 French troops, but was beaten by William at the battle of the Boyne 11th July 1690 and returned to France. Jacobite resistance in Ireland was finally ended at the battle of Aughrim in 1691, when over half their army was killed or taken prisoner. Thereafter, the new royal government kept Ireland under firm control, but in Ireland, Scotland and to a lesser extent England, many continued to regard the Stuarts as the legitimate monarchs of the Three Kingdoms, and the Jacobite cause was not extinguished until 1745.
During the second half of the seventeenth century, Louis XIV had made France the most powerful state in Europe. In a series of wars and intimidating diplomatic moves he had strengthened and extended the borders of France with the Spanish Netherlands, various German states and the Dutch Republic. He enjoyed absolute authority in France and was known as the ‘Sun King’. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Catholic counter-reformation who found the semi-independence of the Huguenot Calvinist minority intolerable. In 1685 he revoked the Edict of Nantes by which the Huguenots enjoyed substantial civil rights. He began a policy of intimidation which caused Huguenot refugees to flood into neighbouring Protestant countries, including the Dutch Republic and England, which caused those countries to become increasingly hostile towards France. Louis's seemingly endless territorial claims, coupled with his persecution of Protestants, enabled William of Orange to win control in the Dutch Republic and lay the groundwork for an anti-French alliance which included the Catholic Emperor Leopold I, The King of Spain and the Duke of Savoy as well as Protestant German princes.
France was now faced with a powerful coalition determined to prevent further extension of Louis’ influence, but French forces crossed the Rhine late in September 1688 at the start of what became the Nine Years’ War. William of Orange led the Dutch Republic in the war and his new domains in Great Britain joined the Grand Alliance soon after. William held supreme command within the alliance throughout the war. His experience and knowledge of European affairs made him the indispensable political and military leader and his enhanced status as King of England gave him additional authority. Although England provided money, men and ships, the English Parliament and ministers had little influence over the war’s conduct and William’s priority was the survival of the Dutch Republic. Nevertheless, English ministers supported the war in order to limit the power of France and defend England against a Jacobite restoration. Anglo-French relations were also soured by increasing colonial and trading tensions in North America, the West Indies and India.
John Churchill, now Earl of Marlborough, commanded a small English army which was sent to the Netherlands in 1689. The following year he earned admiration for a well-executed anti-Jacobite campaign waged in the south of Ireland. However, Marlborough’s career was impeded by the queen’s displeasure at the close friendship of his wife Sarah Jennings with the Princess Anne, who was heir presumptive to the childless royal couple. Until she died of smallpox late in 1694, Queen Mary administered the three kingdoms during her husband absences. In 1692 Anne refused to comply with the queen’s order to dismiss Sarah. Marlborough was then dismissed from court and from his army positions. Soon after, he fell into deeper disgrace when he was sent to the Tower for a brief period of 24 days. After the queen’s death, the king was reconciled with Princess Anne and he allowed the Marlboroughs to return to court, but suspicions of latent Jacobite sympathies remained and Marlborough only resumed his military rank and membership of the Privy Council in 1699.
During this period a small group of Whigs known as the Junto became the early forerunner of later party government. Their informal leader was Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, who had been a firm supporter of the previous regime until he was abruptly dismissed by James II. He was valued by William III for his frankness and ability to voice unwelcome truths and had played a part in the reconciliation of William with his sister in law Princess Anne.
The Nine Years’ War eventually ended with the treaty of Rijswijk in 1697. Neither side had made significant territorial gains and the huge financial costs, coupled with widespread famine and economic dislocation, persuaded both sides to seek peace. The Treaty allowed the Dutch to place garrisons in the key strongholds of Namur and Ypres in the Spanish Netherlands as a defence against French aggression; Louis also recognised William as the legitimate King of the Three Kingdoms and withdrew support for the Jacobites, but the political structure of Europe was basically unchanged.
Charles II of Spain was terminally ill and the Spanish succession was now uppermost in the minds of Europe’s rulers: the closest heirs were Emperor Leopold and Louis XIV. William of Orange wanted to ensure it went to neither since that would upset the balance of power in Europe. On his deathbed in 1700, Charles II of Spain made it known that he bequeathed all his territories to Philip Duke of Anjou, a grandson of Louis XIV. A new European conflict, known as the War of the Spanish Succession broke out in July 1701 and continued until 1713/1714.
The year 1700 also brought into question the succession to the monarchy in the Three Nations of England, Scotland and Ireland. William’s heir was the Princess Anne who, despite many pregnancies had only one surviving child, William Duke of Gloucester. When he died, aged 11, she was the only one left in the line of succession established in the Bill of Rights. Louis XIV saw an opportunity and recognised James Francis Edward Stuart, son of former King James II, who died in September 1701, as the rightful King of England. The English Parliament passed the Act of Settlement 1701, which ensured a Protestant succession by selecting Sophia Electoress of Hanover and her heirs as next in line after Anne. Sophia was the daughter of Charles I’s sister Elizabeth who had married Frederick V of the Palatinate back in 1613. Sophia was born in 1630. The Act debarred Catholics from the throne, thereby excluding the candidacy of many people more closely related to Anne than Sophia.
The following year, William III was thrown from his horse and broke his collar-bone. Complications set in and he died aged fifty two in March 1702. The primary purpose in his life was the protection of his home country and the rest of the Netherlands against the ambitions of Louis XIV. The task was never completed and the struggle against French hegemony continued after his death under the leadership of Churchill. William never knew the kind of popularity enjoyed by Charles II, but a surge of support followed a failed Jacobite plot to assassinate him in 1696. He mourned the death of his wife Mary, which left him alone in a strange country. His closest associates were his Dutch friends and allies, but he was never vindictive to the English ministers who had once pledged allegiance to the Stuarts and continued to maintain Jacobite contacts in case that cause should once more become successful in Britain.
The Bill of Rights and its companion in Scotland which ushered in the reign of William and Mary established Parliament as an essential part of the British ruling establishment. The monarch’s power was now constitutionally limited by the requirement to consult Parliament on a regular basis and the need for Parliament’s approval for all measures of taxation. Free speech within Parliament was part of the statute and all people had a right to petition the monarch and to fair treatment in the courts. Cruel and unusual punishments were forbidden and it was illegal to maintain a standing army in peacetime without Parliament’s permission. The bill reflected the ideas of the political philosopher John Locke and it forms one of the main planks of the unwritten British Constitution. Locke’s ideas were also reused a century later in the United States’ Bill of Rights and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Stuart and Cromwellian attempts at absolute rule were ended by the intervention of a Dutchman and the need for new constitutional instruments to control him and formalise his rule.
While kings concentrated on religious matters and international competition, the later seventeenth century was a time of radical changes with far-reaching consequences below the horizon of high politics. The Great Fire of London was an analogy for some of the things that happened during those years. Charles II set up the Royal Society and, for the rest of the century and beyond, its members produced a string of world-changing inventions, scientific discoveries and theories. Newton, Boyle, Hooke, Wren and others changed our view of the world. Wren’s rebuilding of London introduced stone-built baroque public buildings to a city which had previously been a medieval warren. His fellow scientists also cleared away the medieval ideas of how the natural world works, with new explanations founded on and proved by observation and experimentation. The members of the Society played an important part in transforming science and putting it into practical use. It is noteworthy that the first rudimentary steam engine was built by Thomas Savory in 1698 and he may be viewed as the grandfather of the Industrial Revolution.
The City of London was also the home of vital changes in trade, finance and economics. Ventures, set up by Royal Charter to trade with and colonise other parts of the world and also to develop new enterprises such as the drainage of the Fens, began to be joined by Joint Stock companies, in which people shared the cost of funding the business and took a share of its profits in the form of dividends. Of course, shareholders also shared the risk of failure and dividends were sometimes withheld to protect working capital when business was poor. A trade in those shares began to be conducted in London coffee houses; lists of commodity prices and exchange rates began to be published in the same places and business gossip influenced the price at which people were prepared to buy and sell shares in a particular company. Transactions were organised by brokers at the Royal Exchange, founded in 1571 by Thomas Gresham. In 1697, Parliament passed an Act that levied heavy penalties on those brokering without a licence in order to try and prevent trading outside the Exchange.
As trade expanded, merchants sought to insure against natural shocks and losses, such as shipwreck and other ‘perils of the sea’. Sea captains, merchants, and ship-owners were in the habit of meeting at Lloyds Coffee House in the City where the most reliable shipping news circulated. Financiers prepared to insure freight and shipping met customers at Lloyds and developed into a sophisticated network of insurance brokers. The business outgrew the coffee shop and moved to Lombard Street in 1691 where it became Lloyds of London.
The Bank of England was set up by Royal Charter in 1694 by a group of financiers led by William Paterson, a Scottish banker. The initial purpose of the Bank was to fund England’s naval contribution to the Nine Years War. William III needed £1.2 million to rebuild the English fleet, but was not considered credit-worthy by continental bankers. In order to induce Paterson and his associates to raise the loan, they were given exclusive possession of the government's balances. The Bank was the only limited-liability corporation allowed to issue bank notes and the loan was serviced at an interest rate of 8%, with a service charge of £4,000 per annum for the management of the loan. The Bank became central to English dominance of world trade in the eighteenth century and the model for most central banks set up later.
Despite those early capitalist ventures and institutions, nearly everyone at that time accepted the Mercantilist Theory, which considered national wealth was increased by protecting national production, restricting imports and building up gold reserves; this led to restrictive trade practices and robbery at sea, masquerading under the name privateering. Few understood that competitive advantage might be derived from efficiency, productivity and competition.
In those years, with the development of such institutions and the growing returns from world trade which they encouraged, London was on the verge of becoming Europe’s richest city. England began to take over the mercantile and financial mantle of its old rivals in Antwerp and William of Orange’s home country. English ships plied the oceans of the world carrying sugar, molasses, cocoa, coffee, tobacco, spices, Indian chintzes, China tea and porcelain, timber, tar and turpentine from the Baltic, whale oil, fish from Newfoundland, furs from North America and, in growing numbers, slaves from Africa. Where her flag once flew at the masthead of privateers intent on robbing the ships of richer and more powerful nations, England now had a thriving commercial business of her own to protect and she could no longer tolerate pirates and privateers creaming off a share. The Royal Navy began to seek out and destroy those who tried to plunder the nation’s trade. In 1701 Captain Kidd who had been employed to hunt pirates in the Indian Ocean was hanged at Wapping for his own crimes of piracy.
After the furore of the Civil Wars, life in England settled down to a quieter rhythm. The lot of most people was more comfortable than it had been earlier in the century. Some moved into towns where peace and an improving economy gave opportunities for the growth of businesses such as shops, hostelries, ale houses and coffee houses. Banks and lawyers prospered. Farmers in the hinterland of towns and cities benefited by selling surplus corn, livestock and dairy products in the markets and invested the proceeds by buying more land. Those large estate owners who did not lose everything at the races or the card table improved their houses with classical facades or demolished their old, uncomfortable medieval manors and castles and built new mansions, furnished with fine paintings, ornaments, furniture and rich hangings which boasted their new affluence and sophisticated taste. The king and queen commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to renovate Hampton Court and they added landscaped gardens for their own pleasure. Kensington Palace was also transformed from a modest house into a palace for the royal couple’s use. John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawkesmoor designed the baroque splendour of Castle Howard begun in 1699 and Blenheim Palace begun in 1705. These grand projects set the scene for a host of stately homes being built throughout the country during the next century, many of which are still in use today.
1660 Declaration of Breda. Charles II agrees liberty of conscience and payment of army back-pay.
~ The Convention Parliament votes for restoration of the monarchy.
~ Charles II returns to London and becomes king of the three kingdoms.
~ 26 surviving regicides are hanged in Whitehall.
~ The Navigation Acts continue and expand the policies of the 1651 Act, designed to restrict trade between English territories to English ships, and also list commodities such as sugar, cotton and tobacco which may only be shipped to England or one of her provinces.
~ Theatres and playhouses are allowed to re-open in England.
~ Foundation of the Royal Society for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge.
~ James Duke of York (1633-1701) marries his mistress Anne Hyde (1637-1671) daughter of Edward Hyde Lord Clarendon (1609-1674) the chief minister.
1661 The Corporation Act requires that holders of public offices must be communicants in the Church of England, thus excluding both Catholic and Nonconformist adherents.
~ The Militia Act puts the army under royal control.
~ The Rescissory Act effectively rescinds and annuls all Scottish Acts of Parliament passed since 1633.
~ The Sceptical Chymist is published by Robert Boyle (1627-1691) the Anglo-Irish natural philosopher and founder of modern chemistry.
~ A naval expedition takes a fort in the Gambia River and renames it James Island for James Duke of York. It is given to the Royal Adventurers to Africa Company (founded 1660) for trading gold, ivory and, later, slaves.
1662 Charles II renounces the Treaty of Breda. The Abjuration Act rejects the National Covenant and reinstates bishops in Scotland.
~ The Act of Uniformity compels the use of the Prayer Book in church services.
~ Act of Settlement and Removal added to the Poor Law acts.
~ Licensing of the Press Act introduces censorship.
~ The various settlements around the Connecticut River, New England, are amalgamated by royal charter into the colony of Connecticut.
~ Charles II sells Dunkirk to France.
~ Charles II marries Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) with Tangiers and Bombay as her dowry.
~ The Hearth Act taxes the number of hearths per household.
1663 The colony of Rhode Island and Province of Carolina, which eventually became the colonies of North and South Carolina, are founded by royal charter.
~ Theatre Royal Drury Lane opens.
1664 The Conventicles Act forbids gatherings of more than five people for religious purposes outside the auspices of the Church of England.
~ New Amsterdam is captured from the Dutch Republic. It is renamed New York for James Duke of York. England also annexes New Jersey, colonised by Dutch settlers.
~ River Thames begins to freeze until March 1665.
~ Cape Coast Castle is captured from the Dutch and becomes the centre of Royal Africa Co. activities on the Gold coast.
~ The East India Company ships 100lb of China tea from Java.
1665 The Great Plague of London. 70,000 deaths. The last major outbreak of plague in Britain.
~ The Second Anglo-Dutch War starts as England continues to attack Dutch ships at sea. The Dutch navy suffers a severe defeat at the battle of Lowestoft.
~ Robert Hooke scientist architect and polymath, curator of experiments at the Royal Society, publishes Micrographia, beginning research into fundamental physical elements and optics.
1666 The Great Fire of London. The old city, including Old St Paul’s cathedral, is largely destroyed.
~ Louis XIV of France declares war in support of the Dutch Republic.
~ The Four Day Naval Battle with the Dutch, now reinforced with more powerful ships.
~ The English fleet commanded by George Monck Duke of Albemarle, supported by Prince Rupert of the Rhine, suffers heavy casualties but remains intact as a fighting force.
~ The Pentland Rising of Scots Covenanters is put down.
1667 War, pestilence and the Great Fire have reduced England to desperate financial straits. The Dutch fleet invades and destroys ships laid up in Chatham and tows away HMS Royal Charles the English flagship.
~ The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War. English possession of New York is recognised.
~ England agrees to remain neutral as Louis XIV goes to war in the Spanish Netherlands.
~ The Earl of Clarendon is dismissed and goes into exile.
~ John Milton’s (1608-1674) epic poem Paradise Lost is published.
~ John Dryden publishes the long poem Annus Mirabilis.
~ Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), prolific writer on many subjects including natural philosophy, is the first woman to attend a Royal Society meeting.
1668 The East India Company starts trading at Bombay.
~ England Joins the Triple Alliance with the Dutch Republic and Sweden.
~ John Dryden (1631-1700), dramatist, poet and satirist, becomes England’s first Poet Laureate.
1669 Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) stops writing the diary he has kept going since Jan. 1st 1660.
1670 The Treaty of Dover. In return for a yearly pension Charles II agrees to give military and naval assistance to Louis XIV of France who is now at war with the Dutch Republic. Charles also secretly agrees to become a Catholic. The known clauses of the treaty are deplored by the British public and the secret agreement to convert puts Charles at risk of blackmail by Louis.
~ The Treaty of Madrid finally settles the Anglo-Spanish War on terms highly favourable to England. The power of the English navy is now re-established.
~ Bushel’s Case decides that no jury can be punished on account of a verdict it has returned.
~ The Hudson’s Bay Company receives a royal charter granting monopoly rights to trade furs and administer a vast area of North America.
~ Nell Gwynne (1650-1687), a comedy actress at Drury Lane, is installed as the king’s best-remembered mistress.
~ Aphra Behn (1640-1689), female writer, her first play is produced at Lincoln’s Inn theatre.
1671 Anne Duchess of York (born Hyde 1637) dies leaving two daughters, the princesses Mary and Anne, both of whom will reign as queen regnant of Great Britain and Ireland.
1672 Fears of national bankruptcy lead to suspension of payments out of the Exchequer for a year, bankrupts goldsmiths and wrecks the government’s credit.
~ The Declaration of Indulgence tries to extend religious toleration to Nonconformist and Catholic recusants,
~ The Royal Adventurers to Africa Company is re-founded as the Royal African Company with monopoly rights to trade slaves, gold, tropical wood, etc. from Africa in English possessions at home and abroad.
~ The Third Anglo- Dutch War begins with the inconclusive naval battle of Sole Bay involving a joint Anglo-French fleet.
~ John Bunyan (1628-1688) is released from Bedford gaol after 12 years imprisonment for preaching without a licence.
~ England takes control of the Dutch Virgin Islands from the Republic, but ownership is disputed for the next 26 years.
1673 The Test Act takes further steps to exclude Catholics from public offices, civil or military, in reaction to the Declaration of Indulgence which is revoked.
~ Thomas Osborne, later Earl of Danby becomes chief minister.
~ The Battle of Texel, Franco-British fleet fails to open way for a landing force in the Dutch Republic.
~ James Duke of York, revealed as a practicing Catholic, relinquishes his Admiral’s position and marries fifteen year old Mary of Modena.
~ John Dryden’s Marriage a la Mode is published and performed.
~ The Apothecaries’ Company founds Chelsea Medicinal Garden for the cultivation and study of medicinal plants.
1674 The Treaty of Westminster ends the Third Anglo-Dutch War. William of Orange continues to resist France with German help.
~ Death of the poet John Milton.
~ The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, rebuilt after a fire, is re-opened.
1675 The founding of the new St Paul’s cathedral, London, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723).
~ John Flamsteed (1646-1719) is appointed the first Astronomer Royal.
~ The Country Wife by William Wycherley (1641-1716), one of the first wave of Restoration comedies which were noted for sexually explicit themes and female actresses playing female parts for the first time in England.
1677 Princess Mary (1662-1694) daughter of James Duke of York marries her cousin William of Orange (1650-1702) head of the Dutch Republic and leader of European Protestants against Louis XIV of France. They later rule the three kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland as William III & II and Mary II.
1678 The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is published.
~ Violent riots in London after Titus Oates (1649-1705) makes false allegations about a Jesuit Popish Plot to assassinate the King and replace him with James, Duke of York.
1679 The terms Whig and Tory, later used to identify political parties, are first used as terms of abuse in a Parliamentary Exclusion Bill debate about excluding the Catholic James, Duke of York from succession to the throne.
~ The death of Thomas Hobbes (born 1588), English philosopher and author of Leviathan.
~ The Habeas Corpus Act restates an ancient right to protection against unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment.
~ Charles II dissolves Parliament when it passes the Exclusion Bill.
~ James Sharp (born 1613), Archbishop of St Andrews is assassinated and a brief rebellion by Scottish Covenanters is put down by the Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685), a natural son of Charles II, at the battle of Bothwell Brig.
~ New Hampshire is chartered as a separate colony in New England.
~ Henry Purcell (1659-1695) becomes organist at Westminster Abbey.
1680 New Parliament. The Earl of Shaftesbury (1621-1683), secures passing of the second Exclusion Bill and proposes the Duke of York be exiled. House of Lords rejects the bill.
~ Sir Christopher Wren, occupied in rebuilding public buildings of London and much admired for his scientific work, is appointed president of the Royal Society.
~ Prince George Ludwig of Hanover (1660-1727), later to become King George I, fails to win the hand of Princess Anne, his second cousin.
1681 Parliament meeting at Oxford is dissolved when it reintroduces an Exclusion Bill.
~ Anthony Ashley Cooper 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and leader of the Exclusion faction, is sent to the Tower charged with treason but he is acquitted amid great public rejoicing.
~ Oliver Plunkett Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, is hanged drawn and quartered for alleged treason during the Popish Plot hysteria.
1682 William Penn (1644-1718), a prominent Quaker, founds the colony of Pennsylvania and its capital Philadelphia.
~ The Chelsea Hospital for wounded and discharged soldiers, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is founded.
1683 The failed Rye House plot to assassinate the King and James Duke of York restores their popularity.
~ Princess Anne (1665-1714), daughter of James Duke of York marries Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708).
~ The Ashmolean Museum Oxford is the world’s first university museum.
1684 The Great Frost. A Frost Fair is held on the Thames throughout January.
~ An Apologetical Declaration composed by James Renwick (1662-1688) disowns the king’s authority and sparks off ‘the Killing Time’ in Scotland.
1685 James II and VII, succeeds his brother Charles II on the throne.
~ Protestant rebels in the West Country rise in support of the Duke of Monmouth, who lays claim to the throne, and are defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor.
~ Judge Jeffreys (1645-1689) condemns many rebels to death or transportation to the West Indies at the Bloody Assizes. Monmouth is beheaded.
~ About 100 Presbyterian Covenanters are executed in Scotland for refusing to take the Abjuration Oath.
~ Elizabeth Gaunt is the last woman to be burnt for a political offence (involvement in the Rye House Plot) in England (see 1789).
~ Huguenot Protestant refugees from France start to arrive in England following revocation of the Edict of Nantes which granted them freedom of religion.
1687 The Publication of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton (1642-1727), which expounds some of the founding principles of modern Physics.
~ James II and VII issues the Declaration of Indulgence which suspends the penal laws affecting Catholics and Protestant dissenters in England and Scotland.
~ The King receives the Papal Nuncio.
1688 The Protestant establishment is alarmed by the risk of a Catholic ruling dynasty when James Francis Edward Stuart (died 1766) is born to James II and VII and his second wife.
~ William Sancroft (1617-1693) Archbishop of Canterbury and six other bishops are sent to the Tower for opposing the Declaration of Indulgence, but are acquitted of charges of seditious libel.
~ William of Orange (1650-1702) is invited to bring an armed force to England in ‘defence of English liberties’. The establishment seeks to replace the king with his daughter Princess Mary who is William’s wife.
~ James’ other daughter Princess Anne (1665-1714) and John Churchill (1650-1722), who defeated the Monmouth rebels, support the invasion.
~ James II and VII takes refuge in France with his cousin King Louis XIV.
~ Orinooko, a prose fiction not quite a novel by Aphra Behn, a celebrated woman playwright and poet, is published.
1689 Accession of William III & II and Mary II. The Convention Parliament declares James II & VII has abdicated and his daughter Mary is to rule jointly with her husband. The Scottish parliament passes a similar measure.
~ The Glorious Revolution: The Bill of Rights forbids Catholics becoming Monarch or consort, limits royal powers and strengthens Parliament’s constitutional position.
~ The Toleration Act grants freedom of worship to most Protestants except Unitarians and the Conventicles Act forbidding Nonconformist gatherings of more than five people is repealed.
~ The Irish Parliament supports James and passes a Bill of Attainder against those who rebelled against him.
~ In Scotland a Williamite army is defeated at the battle of Killiecrankie by Jacobites loyal to James II & VII but the revolt fizzles out.
~ England enter the Nine Years’ War with France. In the following years the King spends lengthy periods abroad directing the war. Queen Mary II rules in his absence.
~ John Locke (1632-1704) publishes An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in which he promotes empirical understanding against the philosophy of pure logic. He also anonymously releases Two Treatises of Government which expounds a society based on Natural Rights and Contract Theory.
1690 James II & VII and his Catholic supporters are defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland by William III.
~ The Act of Settlement recognises the Presbyterian faith in Scotland.
~ William Sancroft Archbishop of Canterbury and eight bishops refuse to swear the oath of allegiance and are dismissed from office.
~ A small Scots Jacobite force is defeated at the battle of Cromdale, effectively marking the end of the first Jacobite rebellion in Scotland.
~ The East India Company makes a treaty with the Moghul emperor and establishes a trading post at Calcutta, later to become capital of British India.
~ Lloyds coffee house becomes the centre for English marine insurance business, including the transatlantic slave trade, before it is transferred to Lombard St.
1691 Colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay and other adjoining territories amalgamate into the Province of Massachusetts Bay ruled by a royal governor.
~ Treaty of Limerick ends the Jacobite war in Ireland.
1692 The Glencoe Massacre - members of the Jacobite clan MacDonald are slaughtered by Robert Campbell’s (1630-1696) loyalist troops because their chief was allegedly late in signing the Oath of Allegiance to William III & II and Mary II.
~ John Churchill Earl of Marlborough is briefly sent to the Tower by Queen Mary. He is suspected of corresponding with ex- king James.
~ Princess Anne falls out with the Queen over her friendship with Sarah Churchill Countess of Marlborough (1660-1744).
1693 Whites Club, the oldest gentleman’s club in London, is founded,
1694 The Bank of England is founded with William Paterson (1658-1719) founder director. It issues £1.2 million of government ‘gilt-edged’ securities to fund the war with France.
~ Queen Mary II dies of smallpox and her husband William III continues to rule in his own right.
1695 Westminster Parliament refuses to renew an act requiring a licence to print – the beginning of press freedom.
~ The Bank of Scotland is founded.
~ The death of Henry Purcell (born 1659), composer of sacred and courtly baroque music and opera.
1695-7 A great famine results in enormous death toll in Northern Europe including Scotland.
1696 Silver currency is reminted causing a temporary shortage of coin.
~ Plot to murder King William III is uncovered.
~ Window Tax is introduced.
1697 Treaty of Rijswijk ends Nine Years’ War. Louis XIV stops support for the Jacobites.
~ Christopher Wren’s new St Paul’s cathedral is consecrated.
1698 Thomas Savery (1650-1715) patents the first inefficient pistonless steam engine.
~ Failed attempt to found a Scottish colony in the Isthmus of Darien, Central America.
~ John Churchill earl of Marlborough is reinstated in the army and Privy Council.
~ Peter the Great (1672-1725), Tsar of Russia, comes to London to acquire scientific instruments and knowledge.
~ 1699 The Eddystone Rock lighthouse is completed.
1700 William Dampier (1651-1715), an erstwhile pirate who had already achieved a remarkable voyage of global circumnavigation, explores the North West coast of Australia.
~ Much of central Edinburgh is destroyed by fire.
~ Premiere of The Way of the World, a late Restoration Comedy by William Congreve (1670-1729) noted for displays of subtle and witty debate between the sexes.
~ Death of William Duke of Gloucester (born 1689), Princess Anne’s son, second in line heir to the throne.
1701 A new Act of Settlement provides for the Protestant succession to the throne should William III and Princess Anne die with no living issue. Sophia Electoress of Hanover (1630-1714), granddaughter of James I & VI, and her Protestant heirs are appointed to be successors.
~ The King of Spain dies and wills all his empire to Philip, Duke of Anjou (1683-746), a grandson of Louis XIV of France, which threatens the balance of power in Europe.
~ A Grand Alliance of Britain, the Dutch Republic, Savoy and the Habsburg Empire is formed. The War of Spanish Succession, a pan European struggle, begins.
~ Death of ex-King James II & VII in France.
~ The Society for Propagation of the Gospel to Foreign Parts is instituted by the Church of England.
~ Captain Kidd (born c 1655), lately employed to hunt pirates in the Indian Ocean, is sentenced to death for piracy by the Court of Admiralty and is hanged at Execution Dock, Wapping.
1702 Death of King William III.