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Charles II, Europe and ‘popery’. Gabriel Glickman. Politics post-1660 – continuity or change?. Jonathan Scott – argument for continuity over C17th: Monarchs struggling financially Unstable structure of ‘composite monarchy’ Fears of ‘popery’ – lack of political trust in the Stuart court.

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Charles II, Europe and ‘popery’

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Charles II, Europe and ‘popery’

Gabriel Glickman


Politics post-1660 – continuity or change?

  • Jonathan Scott – argument for continuity over C17th:

  • Monarchs struggling financially

  • Unstable structure of ‘composite monarchy’

  • Fears of ‘popery’ – lack of political trust in the Stuart court


Novelty/ innovation after 1660

  • Arguments of Steven Pincus, Tim Harris.

  • Greater regularity and self-confidence in parliamentary sessions.

  • Development of wider participatory politics –creation of the urban ‘public sphere’ (Habermas)

  • Emergence of first political parties in 1670s.


The understanding of ‘popery’ in Restoration Britain

  • Growth in the power of open or secret Catholics esp. at court

  • Political practises associated with authoritarian Catholic kingdoms – absolutist monarchs, standing armies, sidelining of parliament, erosion of civil liberties.

  • The rise of international Catholicism esp. Louis XIV’s France.


The Restoration – resurgence of royalist sympathies

  • Image of Divine Right of Kings renewed in art, poetry, coinage: comparison of Charles II to David, Solomon, Caesar Augustus.

  • Foundation of churches dedicated to ‘Charles the Martyr’.

  • Renewal of the practise of ‘touching for the King’s Evil’ – Charles believed to have healed 1,800 people over his reign.

  • Acts of retribution against former ‘regicides’.

  • Charles II’s reign dated officially from 1649.

  • Charles himself aims for conciliatory approach – Declaration of Breda (‘liberty to tender consciences’), Act of Indemnity and Oblivion.


Religious divisions in the British Isles

  • Restoration of the Church of England – imposition of Anglican rites, ceremonies and structure on Scotland and Ireland.

  • Problem of Protestant ‘Dissent’ – old Puritan or Presbyterian tradition now outside the Church.

  • 110,000 English Dissenters recorded, 1671.

  • Presbyterian strongholds in Northern Ireland and South-West Scotland.

  • Charles pushed towards coercive approach by loyalist Westminster Parliament – 1662 Act of Uniformity.

  • 1666 – Pentland Rising in Scotland – beginning of the ‘Killing Time’.


Rising political dissent over foreign policy

  • Impeachment of Lord Chancellor Clarendon after failure of second Anglo-Dutch War , 1667.

  • Critique of war in parliament and pamphlet press - French beginning to be seen as greater threat than Dutch.

  • French power boosted with centralisation of state and mercantilist reforms pioneered by Louis XIV and finance minister Colbert.

  • French expansion into southern Netherlands begins with War of Devolution 1667-8.

  • Beginning of expulsion of the Huguenots - 50,000 refugees in England by 1690.


Charles II and the Anglo-French alliance

  • December 1670 – Treaty of Dover signed between Charles and Louis: formalises military and naval alliance against the Dutch.

  • Secret clauses:

  • Promise of French subsidies (initial payment of £200,000, plus £300,000 every year in event of war): intended to be an alternative to raising funds from parliament

  • Charles II promises to bring British Isles back into Roman Catholic Church.


The conflict over foreign policy

  • Architects of Treaty of Dover e.g. Lord Treasurer Clifford, Lord Arlington have imperial and Atlantic idea of Britain’s destiny - want detachment from continent.

  • Opponents of the court seek greater involvement in continental conflicts, in support of ‘balance of Europe’ and ‘the Protestant cause’.

  • Slingsby Bethel (opposition pamphleteer) warns of ‘the deaths of many millions of precious Christians in France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, the Alpine Valleys, Italy and Spain’.

  • Roger Morrice (Presbyterian preacher), The ‘great crisis’ of international Protestantism.


The crisis of 1672-4

  • Failure of third Anglo-Dutch War and opposition in British parliaments.

  • Earl of Lauderdale – ‘such a spirit as I never thought to see here’ (Edinburgh).

  • Defeat of Declaration of Indulgence.

  • Passing of the Test Act (1673) – James, duke of York declares himself a Catholic and resigns public offices.


1674-1678 – deepening tensions

  • Resurgence of Presbyterian unrest in Scotland – culminates in 1680 Sanquhar Declaration.

  • Emergence of Country Party (after 1679, the Whig party) in Westminster under earl of Shaftesbury.

  • Earl of Danby seeks to strengthen the monarchy – build-up of army, suppression of coffee-houses, new taxes.

  • Reaction against Danby intensifies fear of popery:

  • Henry Capel MP: ‘From popery came the notion of a standing army and arbitrary power... Formerly the crown of Spain, and now France, supports this root of popery amongst us’.

  • Andrew Marvell, An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England (1677): ‘there has now for diverse years a design been carried on to change the lawful government of England into an absolute tyranny, and to convert the established Protestant religion into downright Popery’.


Popish Plot to Exclusion Crisis

  • Whig party under Shaftesbury claims vindication from ‘exposure’ of popish plot – seek to purge Catholics or suspected Catholics from public domain.

  • Execution of 24 Catholics, including Viscount Stafford and Oliver Plunkett, archbishop of Armagh.

  • Danby imprisoned by order of Parliament and Bill of Exclusion lodged against James, duke of York.

  • Whig cause centred on Duke of Monmouth as alternative royal claimant but also draws upon radical and quasi-republican arguments e.g. writings of Algernon Sidney.

  • Sir William Cowper MP: ‘The weight of England is in the people, and the world will find that they will sink Popery at last’.


Popish Plot playing cards


Exclusion Crisis moves beyond Westminster

  • Struggle for control of local corporations.

  • Use of street pageantry, popular electioneering.

  • Journals e.g. Protestant Intelligencer (Whig – author Henry Care), Observatour (Tory – author)

  • Use of London theatre – Thomas Shadwell, Lancashire Witches (Whig); John Dryden, Duke of Guise (Tory).

  • Whig argument – Tories/loyalists are ‘popish’.

  • Tory argument – Whigs are republicans, fanatics (‘41 is here again).


1681-3 defeat of the Whigs

  • Whigs dependent on the sitting of parliament.

  • Tory capture/ purchase of borough corporations destroys Whig base in local government.

  • Catholics acquitted at ‘popish plot’ trials – dubious nature of the evidence revealed.

  • June 1683 – ‘exposure’ of the Rye House Plot breaks the Whig leadership: Shaftesbury and Monmouth exiled, Russell executed, Essex commits suicide.

  • Beginning of Tory-led purges, arrests and executions.

  • Richard Rumbold – Whig executed in 1685, ‘This is a deluded generation, veiled in ignorance, that though popery and slavery be riding in upon them, do not perceive it; though I am sure that there was no man born marked by God above another; for none comes into this world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him’.


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