How much was restored in the restoration?

When Charles II returned in 1660 he had a whole host of sanctions lifted and imposed on him. Parliament at the time had to think of their conditions very had a whole host of sanctions lifted and imposed on him. Parliament at the time had to think of their conditions very carefully. They wanted to King to be happy and work with them, yet they did not want Charles to abuse his power and attempt to set up and absolutist regime like his father had tried to do, and his cousin Louis XIV of France had succeeded in doing.

Charles and Hyde’s Declaration of Breda, which was read at the start of the Convention, was a very clever document in that it stated what the king planned to do on the easier subjects and was devised so it pleased all factions at the meeting in some way. But it missed out the big complicated issues (religious settlement, constitution) and left them to be resolved by the convention members themselves. Thus constitutionally the powers of the crown were never resolved, due to the strong rift between the royalists and republicans, and the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Independents. Charles was free of the 19 propositions and the Newcastle Propositions. This put him in a much more powerful position than Charles I. There were some changes though, Charles lost the Star Chamber, High Chamber and Council of the North; meaning parliament was now more powerful in affairs of state.

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Money was an issue that was never resolved in the restoration convention. There were 2 main reasons for this; parliament didn’t want Charles to have enough money to become independent of parliament, and the MPs at the time had no idea how much money Charles actually needed! The intricacies of public finance were beyond most of the MPs in 1660 (accountancy hadn’t even been invented). Charles lost feudal dues, which had been used by his father to raise a substantial amount of money. However he was now given trade taxes, which his predecessor never had. These taxes were nowhere near enough to support any prospect of Charles started his own personal rule, so he still had to ask parliament for money. Though later on in his reign, after the commercial revolution, Charles’ trade taxes were a lot more profitable. A religious settlement was also not resolved in the Restoration. This was a subject that needed to be addressed, unfortunately it was an issue to huge to handle. Charles, Clarendon, and a large section of the convention pushed for a broad new church that tolerated dissenters, with limited powers on bishops. He secured a settlement with the Anglicans and Presbyterians, which led to non-Anglican bishops being appointed. But this all came to nothing and an intolerant church was restored. This may have been because of the huge rift in the beliefs of the convention, or because the government wanted to postpone the decisions on religion until they were more firmly seated. Religion was a strong issue in the country and the wrong move by the new regime while the army had not yet been demobilized could in the worst scenario lead to another civil war.

Charles now had sole control of the army due to the militia acts of 1661-2, (going against the militia ordinance of 1642). This combined with the constitutional freedom and the customs and excise tax for life, Charles had the potential to start an absolutist regime like Louis XIV.

In conclusion the Restoration restored a lot of problems that had been apparent in the 1640s and 50s. Money, religion, and constitution were 3 problems that had been apparent for a long time, but no one was any closer to resolving them. The confidence in the King was restored, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to return to the country. Some things were changed but the changes were irrelevant as the main problems of England were not resolved. This period was called a ‘revolution’ at the time because everything had come full circle and now the king was back and everything was as it should be. But nothing had come full circle because no problems had been solved.


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