Monarchy with David Starkey (2004–2007): Season 2, Episode 5 - Oliver Cromwell: The King Killer - full transcript

Monarchy looks at the end of the reign of Charles I, the rule Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, and the restoration of Charles II. Charles I and the Royalists fight a civil war against Parliament and their New Model Army. Charles is initially defeated and taken into captivity. Hostilities cease until a Royalist army in Scotland invades initiating a second civil war. At Preston, Cromwell wins a decisive victory over the Scots. Parliament wary of Cromwell and the New Model Army attempts to cut a deal with the King. In response the Army stages a military coup, arrests the King, and purges Parliament. King Charles is put on trial for treason and is later executed. The monarchy is abolished and Cromwell takes control. Royalists rally around Charles II, but his Scottish supporters are smashed at Dunbar and Worcester. In England the Rump Parliament resists a call to have new elections. Cromwell responds by dissolving Parliament and seizing total control of England. Cromwell establishes the Protectorate and rules with the help of the army. Cromwell establishes a Protectorate parliament which calls for Cromwell to be declared King in an effort to covertly limit his power. Cromwell and the Army reject this effort and Cromwell is reinstalled as Lord Protector. Cromwell dies in 1658 of a fever and he is buried in an elaborate ceremony. Oliver Cromwell names his son Richard as his successor. Richard, however, cannot control the Army or Parliament and he is forced to step down. Governor George Monck from Scotland occupies London forces the restores purged Parliamentarians to their seats. Charles II offers himself as King promising religious toleration and general amnesty for crimes committed during the Civil War. Parliament accepts the offer and the monarchy is restored.


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On 23 November 1658,

a solemn procession wended its way
through the silent streets of London

towards Westminster Abbey.

It was the funeral procession

ofthe most powerful ruler
the British lsles had known

since the fall of Rome.

This latter-day emperor
had achieved what had eluded

the greatest warrior kings
ofthe Middle Ages,

welding the countries of England,
Scotland and lreland

into one united kingdom.

He had bent Parliament to his will,

levied taxes as he pleased,

stilled the fratricidal religious conflict
ofthe Reformation

and created the most feared
na and army in Europe.

He lay in his robe of state,

a sceptre in one hand,
an orb in the other,

with an imperial crown
laid on a velvet cushion

a little above his head.

Yet this rulerwas not a king.

He was instead a regicide,
a king killer.

His name was Oliver Cromwell.

His story is the tale of how England
abolished its age-old monarchy

only to find that it couldn!t
do without it after all.

England, 1644.

For two years the country had been
embroiled in a bloody civil war

between King Charles l
and Parliament.

The issues in dispute were taxation,
the army and the Church.

Charles had yielded tax-raising
to Parliament,

but he wouldn!t surrender his powers
as commander-in-chief,

still less his God-given right

as supreme governor
ofthe Church of England

to appoint its bishops
and regulate its worship

according to his own
ceremonious beliefs.

Because ofthe importance

Charles and his followers
attached to bishops,

they became known as Episcopalians,
from the Latin for fbishops!.

Charles!s opponents

felt equally strongly
against bishops and ceremonies,

which meant there was
nothing for it but to fight.


But after a dozen battles
and thousands dead,

the war had bogged down.

For the Parliamentarians,

the stalemate provoked crisis
and soul-searching.

Matters came to a head in 1644

when two leading
Parliamentary generals,

Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester,

and his up-and-coming deputy,
Oliver Cromwell,

each sought to have the other

For they differed irreconcilably
about tactics, war aims

and, above all, about religion.


Were they fighting the King
to crush him

or merely to bring him
to the negotiating table?

The latterwas Manchester!s view.

Aristocrat that he was, he couldn!t
conceive of a kingless world.

He also had
a thoroughly realistic fear

of Charles!s residual authority.

Fflfwe fight the King 100 times
and beat him 99,

ffhe will be King still,!! he said.

FfBut if he beat us once,
or the last time, we shall be hanged.

FfWe shall lose our estates
and our posterities will be undone.!!

Manchester reflected the views

ofthe majority religious faction
in Parliament,

the Presbyterians.

Theywanted a Church
stripped of Charles!s ceremonies,

which they hated as popish,

and ruled not by bishops
under the King

but by assemblies of clergy
known as presbyteries.

But there was another,
even more radical, position.

These men - and women too,

since religion was one
ofthe few areas of public policy

where women were free
to express themselves -

rejected all human authority
in religion

and all fixed outward forms

Instead they believed
in their Christian liberty

and association onlywith
other like-minded individuals

to seek after truth

and to followthe Holy Spirit
wherever it led them,

personally and individually.

Hence the various names
bywhich theywere known -

lndependents, Separatists, Seekers.

And one such Seeker
was Oliver Cromwell himself.

Cromwell, Manchester!s opponent
in the clash of 1644,

had been born in 1599.

Protestantism was in his blood,

and it was further drummed into him -
indeed, beaten into him -

at school and university.

Like many religious men,

Cromwell experienced
a crisis of faith in his 30s

from which he emerged

with a burning confidence
in his own salvation.

He was a big, bony, practical,
rather award man.

Hands-on, sporty, unscholarly,
despite his Cambridge days,

but with the gift ofthe gab
and a knack for popular leadership.

Fearless and no respecter of persons,
however grand,

or institutions, however venerable,

Cromwell was a man waiting for God
to reveal himselfto him in action.

And what God revealed in Cromwell!s
own astonishing transformation

from country squire
to brilliant general

was that Charles must be defeated
and forced to accept Parliament!s terms.

Instead, Cromwell insinuated,

Manchester!s belief
in a negotiated settlement

had led him to pull his punches
on the battlefield.

But Cromwell went further.

Not only must Parliamentary generals
be imbued with a newwill to victory,

there must also be
a fundamental reform

ofthe existing Parliamentary forces.

Cromwell!s arguments carried the day,

and the result was the creation
in February 1645

ofthe New Model Army.

This was England!s first
truly professional fighting force,

properly paid and equipped
by Parliament

and organised on
the revolutionary principle

that its officers be chosen by merit
rather than social rank.


The first great test
ofthe New Model Army

came here at Naseby on 14 June 1645.

On the Royalist side was
the flower of English chivalry,

led by King Charles himself
in gilt armour,

and mounted
on his beautiful Flemish horse.

In contrast,

the Parliamentarians were
a drab and uniform company,

in Cromwell!s own words,
of ffpoor, prayerful men!!.

The solid ranks of Cromwell!s
New Model cavalry proved decisive.

By one o!clock in the afternoon,

Charles had lost his infantry,
his artillery

and, in effect, the kingdom.

FfGod would,!! Cromwell wrote
after the battle,

ffby things which are not,
bring to nothing things that are.!!

It was a biblically inspired
Messianic confidence

which Cromwell shared
with his troops.

The New Model Army proved to be
the decisive weapon

in Parliament!s struggle
with the King.

But in forging this weapon,

Parliament had called into being
a new power in the land,

and one whose strength would grow
with each victory that he!d won.


After the battle,

the armywas visited by a clergyman,
Richard Baer.

Baerwas a noted Presbyterian

who had preached against
the King!s religious policies.

Nevertheless, like most Englishmen,

he anticipated that the King
would eventually

agree to a negotiated settlement

and consent to a reformation
ofthe national Church

on Presbyterian lines.

But Baer now encountered
in the New Model Army

a body of men among whom

the radical ideas ofthe religious
independence had taken root.

These tough, Bible-quoting,
disputatious soldiers

were agreed on two things -

that the state had no right
to interfere in the Church

and that Charles
was a tyrant and a traitor

who must be defeated
and brought to account for his crimes.

For the Presbyterian Baer,

who believed in a God-ordained order
and discipline,

this was a nightmarish vision
of un-Christian anarchy.

But it was also a vision,
Baer realised,

that the men ofthe New Model
were determined to turn into a reality.

Thanks to the strength
ofthe New Model Army,

what was there to stop them?


On 7 June 1647,

Charles l met his nemesis,
Oliver Cromwell, for the first time

when Cromwell
and the other army leaders

came to offer the King a deal.

Following his defeat
in the Civil War,

Charles was now
Parliament!s prisoner.

But he found himself in
an unexpectedly favourable position,

for the divisions among his enemies
were becoming wider by the day.

The Presbyterians in Parliament,

like their allies,
the Scottish Covenanters,

wanted to impose their form of religion
on the whole nation,

whereas the lndependents
in the army

wanted an end
to religious prescription

and the toleration
of all forms ofworship,

so long as theywere Protestant.

Both sides knew
that to swing things theirway,

they needed the political legitimacy

which only God!s anointed sovereign
could command.

Hence the deal offered by the army.

It was a triangular game

in which the King seemed to hold
the strongest hand.

But Charles characteristically
overplayed it,

rejecting the astonishingly lenient
political terms

he was offered by Cromwell
and the other army leaders

in order to guarantee
religious toleration.

Instead, in a cynical
renversement d!alliance,

the King joined forces
with his original enemies,

the Scots Covenanters.

In return for the King!s promise,

which he!d no intention whatever
of keeping,

to impose Presbyterianism
throughout the British lsles,

the Scots invaded England
to restore King Charles l

and to wipe out the New Model Army

with its damnable belief
in religious toleration.

But in August 1648,

the Second Civil War,
as it became known,

came to a bloody end
in a 3-day battle at Preston.

This was Cromwell!s first engagement
in sole command ofthe New Model Army,

and he showed his tactical genius

by manoeuvring to cut off
the Scots! retreat,

thus turning a defeat
into an annihilating rout.

FfTake courage,!! Cromwell wrote
to Parliament after the battle,

ffto do the work ofthe Lord.!!

In fact, terrified by the army
and its radical religious views,

Parliament was seeking
to make a peace with Charles

which sold the pass
on all the main issues ofthe war.

Doublecrossed by both
King and Parliament,

the army!s Council of Officers
now decided to strike down both.

On December 1 ,
the army seized the King.

On the sih, Colonel Pride
entered the House of Commons

and purged it ofthe 150-strong
Presbyterian majority.

The Rump, as it was now known,
of 50 lndependents,

now proclaimed itself
the supreme power in the nation

with the authority to pass
acts of Parliament

without the consent ofthe King
or the House of Lords.

The Second Civil War
and Cromwell!s great victory at Preston

produced a marked hardening
in his attitudes,

especially towards the King.

Henceforward, Cromwell saw Charles -

who!d engineered the war
on his own initiative

and for his own selfish ends -

as a man of blood
who must be punished for his crimes.

Cromwell!s view of his own role
also took on a larger compass.

Thinking biblically as always,

he saw himself as Gideon, the Jewish
farmer summoned from the plough

to lead the armies of lsrael
against the Midianites

and to kill their kings.

On 20 January 1649,

King Charles l was brought here
to Westminster Hall

to be tried for high treason.

Charles!s strategy, which he stuck to
with dogged persistence,

was to refuse to recognise

either the authority or the legality
ofthe court.

And throughout the week-long trial,
both the King and hisjudges

sat with their hats
firmly on their heads

in a stand-off of mutual disrespect.

But with the army and
the radicals in Parliament in control,

the verdict was never
in serious doubt.

This is the death warrant
of Charles l,

signed and sealed
by 59 of hisjudges

and ordering his execution by

ffthe severing of his head
from his body!!

On 30 January 1649,

with its requirement
that the execution should take place

ffin the open street before Whitehall!!.

It!s a bold and brave document.

But it also highlights
the titanic effort ofwill

that was needed to bring even this
panel of committed Parliamentarians

to take the terrible,
irrevocable step

of publicly executing a king.

Both the date ofthe warrant itself
and the date ofthe execution

have been inserted over erasures.

Two ofthe names ofthe men
who were in charge ofthe execution

have been changed, following
the refusal ofthe original nominees.

And many ofthe signatures, we know,

were only obtained
after long, hard lobbying.

Overseeing it all, driving it all,

and allegedly even guiding the pens
ofthe reluctant signers

was the third man to sign,

Oliver Cromwell.

30 Januarywas bitterly cold.

Charles put on two shirts,

for he didn!t want
to be seen shivering

lest onlookers mistake it
as a sign of fear.

At about noon, Charles drank
a small glass of claret

and ate a little bread.

Then he was escorted

through the Banqueting House
here at Whitehall,

the scene ofthe gaudy triumphs
ofthe Stuart court,

and stepped through
one ofthe windows

onto the high, black-draped scaffold
in the street below.

Ffl go

fffrom a corruptible
to an incorruptible crown,!!

The King said to his chaplain,
Bishop Juxon,

ffwhere no disturbance can be,

ffno disturbance in the world.!!

Then the King removed from his neck
the Garterjewel of St George,

made from a single on
and circled with diamonds,

and handed it to Juxon

with the instruction that it should be
given to the Prince ofWales

with the one word - fRemember!.

Charles!s most valuable legacy
to his son

proved to be the manner of his death.

60 years previously,

Charles!s grandmother,
Mary, Queen of Scots,

had died flamboyantly

as a passionate martyr
to the Catholic faith.

Charles instead, with quiet dignity,

offered himself up as a sacrifice
to his vision of Christian kingship.


On 17 March 1649,

the House of Commons passed an act
abolishing the office of king

on the grounds that it was
ffunnecessary, burdensome

ffand dangerous to the liberty, safety
and public interest ofthe people!!.

The lmperial Crown itselfwas smashed

and an attempt was even made
to eradicate the veryword fking!

From the language.

But getting rid of kings
was easier said than done.

There had been kings in England
since before England itself had existed.

Kings had made England,
and they had forged the lmperial Crown,

with its claim to rule
Church as well as state

and Scotland as well as England.

Could this king-made,
king-centred country

successfully become
a kingless republic?

In 11 years of
audacious political experiment,

the Parliamentarians
were determined to try.

The Parliamentarians! first problem

was that in killing one king
they!d created another.

He was Charles, Prince ofWales,

who!d escaped into exile
after the Royalist defeat.

Now, with his father!s execution,

in Royalist eyes he automatically
succeeded as King Charles ll.

But to make his title real,
he needed an army.

Monarchs and rulers throughout Europe

all expressed their horror
at the English regicide.

But none was willing
to supply a single soldier

to help Charles regain his throne.

Only the Scots were ready for that,

and then only on terms

which Charles ll found
profoundly distasteful,

both personally and politically.

For Charles, the Scots demanded,
must not only accept

the Presbyterian Kirk
in Scotland itself,

he must also promise to impose
the Presbyterian system

in England and lreland as well.

For 18 months, Charles wriggled,

until finally he was forced
to accept the inevitable,

swear the covenant

and give the undertakings
the Scots demanded.

The result was that in 1650,

a Charles Stuart rode once more
at the head of an army on British soil.

But it was a Scots army,

dedicated to the imposition of
a Scottish Presbyterian empire by force

throughout the British lsles.

So far, Scotland had been
a major independent player

in the British civil wars

and had repeatedly launched armies
against England,

with decisive consequences
for English politics.

Now, in two great victories,

Cromwell smashed Scotland!s
ambition and independence.

At Dunbar, he took on an army
twice his size,

killing 3,000 and capturing 10.

Then he lured the Scots into England

and at Worcester caught them
in a pincer movement

which destroyed
the Scots army and nobility.

Charles ll, who had been
crowned King of Scots

on NewYear!s Day 1651 ,

escaped by hiding in an oak tree.

Otherwise, Cromwell!s victory
was complete.

Scotland was conquered,
occupied by an English army,

and the General Assembly ofthe Kirk
dissolved by force.

It was Cromwell!s last battle
as an active commander.

Now, leaving his friend General Monck
to mop up in Scotland,

he started thejourney
back to London.

Cromwell now,
like Julius Caesar before him,

bestrode the world like a colossus.

He!d outdone the greatest
ofthe medieval kings

and had succeeded
where even King Edward l,

the fHammer ofthe Scots!,

had failed.

He had conquered Scotland and lreland

and, in a series
of coruscating victories,

had forged a new, united Britain -

except, curiously, in England.

For the government of England
remained in the limbo

which had followed
Charles!s execution.

The King had gone,

but it was unclear
what would replace him.

By 1653, England had been
without a king for nearly five years,

and a decade ofwar had left the country
economically drained.

But the Rump Parliament
proved incapable of producing

either a new, reformed constitution

or of providing
effective leadership.

Indeed, by refusing
to stand for re-election

and meeting
in almost continuous session,

its members threatened to become

a permanent and self-perpetuating

Was it for this that the army
had brought down Charles l?

The last straw came
when the Rump began moves

to deprive Cromwell himself
of his position as commander-in-chief.

On 20 April,
Cromwell entered the Commons

dressed as a mere citizen
in a plain black coat

and with greyworsted stockings.

He rose to address the House,

putting off his hat,
as was then customary,

and speaking moderately,
in praise of parliaments.

But as his passion
and his confidence rose

he began to pace up and down,

put his hat back on his head

and thundered,
ffYou are no parliament!

Ffl say, you are no parliament.

Ffl will put an end to your sitting.!!

FfCall them in,!! he cried,
ffcall them in.!!

Members of Cromwell!s regiment
burst into the Commons.

The Speakerwas removed
from his chair,

the mace from the table,

and the members ofthe Rump

England had already lost her king.

Now it had lost her parliament.

And power flowed,
unmitigated and undisguised,

from the barrel of a musket.

Now Cromwell,
with the backing ofthe army,

ruled England without parliament,
as mere commander-in-chief.

This portrait of Cromwell,

painted shortly after
Charles l!s execution,

shows how far Cromwell,
the erstwhile gentleman farmer,

had transmuted into
a princely figure,

in armour, wielding
a field marshal!s baton,

and able to exercise supreme power

in civil as well as military affairs.

But Cromwell was
a reluctant revolutionary

and was eager to cloak
his military dictatorship

in decent constitutional garb,

as was the army.

And the ruling Council of Officers
drew up a new, written constitution,

the flnstrument of Government!.

This was essentially the same deal

that the army had offered
to Charles l in 1647.

Seven years later, Cromwell accepted
what Charles had declined.

His office was even named
lord protector, or regent.

Cromwell then summoned a parliament,
as provided for by the constitution.

But the parliament of Cromwell
immediately picked up

where the parliaments of Charles l
had left off,

by arguing about the Lord Protector!s
control ofthe army,

his income and his right
to appoint advisers.

And Cromwell responded
by behaving also like Charles l,

first denouncing Parliament
and then dissolving it.

But in trying to rule
without a parliament,

Cromwell was more than ever thrown
into the arms ofthe army

and was obliged, as far as possible,
to satisfy its demands.

Cromwell!s most dramatic concession
to the army came in 1655

with his agreement to the appointment
of 11 major generals

as military governors
ofthe English regions.

The major generals
were doubly unpopular -

first, because theywere responsible
for the enforcement

ofthe protectorate!s program
of social reform.

This showed that the Puritans
reallywere puritanical,

since it involved

not only an assault on swearing,
drunkenness and fornication

but also the attempted abolition
of such staples of English life

as horseraces, casinos,
theatres and brothels -

not even pubs were exempt.

Still worse, from the point ofview
ofthe constitutionally minded,

was the fact that the major generals

were to be paid for
by a 10olo income tax on ex-Royalists,

known as the fdecimation!,

and levied purely on the authority
ofthe Lord Protector.

Such taxation without consent
was a red rag to a bull.

And when Cromwell,

trying to maintain a balancing act
between the army and Parliament,

summoned the Second
Protectorate Parliament in 1653,

the decimation tax
came under sustained attack.

Indeed, so concerned was even
this hand-picked parliament

with Cromwell!s
arbitrary use of power

that they sought
to redefine his position

by recreating the office of king,

which they!d abolished so eagerly
four years previously.

They set out their request
in this document,

the fHumble Petition and Advice!,

which urged Cromwell to exchange
the title of lord protector for that of king.

The title and office of a king,
they argued,

had long been received and approved
by our ancestors.

And had not God
shown his favour to Cromwell

by granting him
so many famous victories?

Might not the royal dignity
be the Lord!s will?

Cromwell was obviously
fit to be king.

But why should Parliament,
which had just killed one king,

now seek to create another?

The reason was
that the powers of a king,

unlike those of a lord protector,

were known and were limited.

A king had to respect ancient custom

and to seek the consent of Parliament
to make law and to raise taxes.

King Oliverwould have been

an altogether
more circumscribed figure

than Lord Protector Cromwell.

But the armywas aghast
that its godly revolution

might amount to no more than
the replacement ofthe house of Stuart

by the house of Cromwell.

So they lobbied hard
against the title of king,

and Cromwell himself,
afterweeks of agonised indecision,

decided that God had blasted
the title and the name of king.

He would accept the powers and
indeed more than the powers of a king,

but not the title.

But if Parliament
couldn!t have a king,

at least they could have
a sort of coronation.

Cromwell!s original inauguration
had been a sober affair.

But on 26 June 1657,

Cromwell was invested as protector
for a second time

here in Westminster Hall.

This time, there was
nothing puritanical about it.

Even the Royal Coronation Chair
was brought from Westminster Abbey

to serve as a centrepiece

forwhat amounted to
a secular coronation.

Cromwell was invested
with a royal robe of purple velvet

lined with ermine,

a gilt-bound and embossed Bible,

a golden-hilted sword
and a massive solid-gold sceptre.

He swore a version
ofthe coronation oath,

and finally, seated in majesty
in this Coronation Chair,

he was acclaimed three times
to the sound oftrumpets

and the cry, ffGod save
the Lord Protector.!!

All that was missing
was the crown itself,

and that appeared on his coinage
and his great seal.

Oliverwas now indeed king
in all but name.

Cromwell had rid Britain of its king,

but now, as Lord Protector,

he held more power
than any king ever had,

and his achievements equalled
or even exceeded

those of any legitimate
English monarch.

Butjust one year after
his second investiture,

Cromwell fell ill.

And on 3 September 1658,

he died at
the Royal Palace ofWhitehall.

In Cromwell!s magnificent
funeral ceremonies,

any coyness about his royal status
was finally abandoned.

Cromwell had ruled like a king -

he was to be buried as a king,
with solemn ceremony,

a vast cortege which included
no fewer than three state-salaried poets,

and at vast expense.

Presiding over it all, as was
traditional in royal funerals,

was a lifelike effigy
of Cromwell himself

which wore, in death,
the remade lmperial Crown

which he!d refused in life.

Few British rulers
have left a grander legacy

or one that seemed more stable.

On his deathbed,

Cromwell had nominated his eldest
surviving son, Richard, as his heir.

And within three hours
of his father!s death,

Richard was proclaimed,
to the sound oftrumpets,

Lord Protector by the grace of God.

Loyal addresses flooded in
from the counties and towns

and messages of condolence
and congratulation

from foreign sovereigns.

Few royal successions
have been as smooth.

Richard was not without
his personal qualities either.

He!d been brought up to be
a simple country gentleman,

spending part of his youth
in his father!s modest house

here in Ely.

But as Lord Protector

he went on to display charm, dignity

and even an unexpected eloquence.

But he lacked the killer instinct for power
on the one hand

and a secure power base in the army
on the other.

Richard also inherited
the unresolved political dispute

between the army and Parliament.

His father had been strong enough
to control it,

but it quickly threatened
to overwhelm Richard.

His first Parliament
met in January 1659.

But by April, the Council of Officers
was calling on Richard

to dissolve Parliament
and entrust himselfto the army.

Their intention was
to keep Richard in office

as a front to
their own military rule.

Richard, unwilling,
as he is supposed to have said,

that one drop of blood should be spilled
to preserve his greatness,

reluctantly agreed,
dissolved Parliament

and threw himself on the mercy
ofthe Council of Officers.

But dissension in the ranks
quickly thwarted the council!s plans,

asjunior officers and
radical Republicansjoined together

to call for the restoration
ofthe Rump Parliament.

The generals were forced to concede,

and the Rump reassembled
on 7 May 1659.

The few remaining members
immediately voted

to turn the constitutional clock
back to 1649

and abolish the protectorate.

Richard resigned from office
afterjust eight months.

The reign of fQueen Dick!,
as Richard was derisively known,

was effectively over.

There was now a vacuum in authority,

just as there had been
after the execution of Charles l.

Once, the armywould have
stepped decisively into the breach.

But the army, for the first time,
was divided.

In London, its leadership was weak,
self-interested and vacillating.

In Scotland, however,

General George Monck
had power and influence enough

to decide the situation.

Monckwas no friend
ofthe lndependents.

In fact, he!d fought on the Royalist side
in the Civil War

until his capture and imprisonment
by the Parliamentary forces.

In exchange for his promise
to command a Parliamentary army,

Monckwas released.

Now Monck, the ex-Royalist,
took action.

He decided that England and Britain
would never be at peace

until the old forms of government
were brought back.

That certainly meant a parliament.

Might it also mean a king?

On 2 January 1660,

Monck and his army crossed the Tweed
and entered England.

Once in London, Monck insisted on the
readmission to the House of Commons

ofthe moderate Presbyterian members

who!d been forced out
by Pride!s Purge

because they!d opposed
the trial of Charles l.

The political clock had been
turned back still further.

For the first time, events in England
now offered Charles ll,

still in exile in the Low Countries,

real hope.

His advisers had been
quick to spot the opportunity

offered by the split in the army
and the rise of Monck.

And they!d put out
secret feelers to him.

But Monck had played a subtle game,

so subtle indeed that his real motives
still remain debatable.

Was he resolved on
the restoration of Charles ll all along?

Orwas he open-minded
about everything,

apart from the necessity
for constitutional legitimacy?

At any rate,

Monck kept his contemporaries
guessing and hoping long enough

to head offthe risk
of renewed civil war

and to let events
acquire their own momentum.

And it was a momentum,
as irresistible as a force of nature,

towards monarchy.

In the spring of 1660,

the government of England
was in a constitutional limbo.

There was no king, no protector
and even no parliament.

Since Monck!s urging,

the reconvened Parliament had at last
voted for its own dissolution.

Even Monck!s army
was self-consciously apolitical.

Now, in active collusion with Monck,

Charles ll offered himself
and his kingship

as a solution to the power vacuum.

He did so in a letter

formally addressed to
the Speaker ofthe Long Parliament

and named after the town
in the Netherlands where it was written.

This is the Declaration of Breda,

issued by the future Charles ll

from his place of exile
in the Netherlands,

and intended to serve both
as a manifesto for his restoration

and as a blueprint
for a comprehensive settlement

after the turmoil of 20 years
of civil war and unrest.

And it shows that the lessons
ofthose years had been well-learned.

Its principal argument
in favour of monarchy

is that the proper
rights and powers ofthe king

are the guarantor
ofthe rights of everybody else

and that without the king!s rights,
nothing and no-one was safe.

It promised to bind up the wounds
of a bleeding nation,

it offered pardon to all,

save effectively those who directly
participated in the king!s execution.

But most strikingly and unthinkably
for the heir of Charles l,

it also offered liberty
to tender consciences in religion.

Was the genie ofthe royal supremacy,

with its fatal harnessing
of politics and religion,

to be exorcised at last?

The Declaration of Breda
was issued on 4 April 1660.

On 25 April,
at General Monck!s urging,

a new parliament,

known as the Convention, because
it had not been summoned by a king,

was elected at last.

It was overwhelmingly pro-Royalist.

Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester,

who a decade and a half earlier

had opposed the king!s
trial and execution,

was appointed Speaker
ofthe House of Lords,

whilst the freely elected Commons
was overwhelmingly Royalist too.

Its first and only task

was to discuss
the question of restoration.

On 30 April,
the Convention MPs processed

to hear a sermon
in St Margaret!s, Westminster.

Preached by the Presbyterian
Richard Baer -

who, a fewyears previously,

had been so shocked by the religious
anarchy ofthe New Model Army -

and entitled
fA Sermon of Repentance!,

it argued that both the Episcopalians
and the Presbyterians

had sinned by fighting each other

to establish their exclusive
vision ofthe Church

and that instead they should unite

in as comprehensive
a national Church settlement as possible.

His call was heeded,

and the ne day
both sidesjoined together

to vote for the recall ofthe king.

Aweek later, Charles was proclaimed
by both houses.

Samuel Pepys recorded,

ffEverybody now drinks the King!s health
without any fear,

ffwhereas before it was very private
that a man may do it.!!

Charles ll, who!d already
been crowned King of Scotland

a decade earlier,

processed here to Westminster Abbey

for his second coronation
as King of England

on 23 April 1661 .

It was St George!s Day,

and everything was done
to restore the traditional forms.

The King even revived
the eve-of-coronation procession

from the Tower to Westminster,

which had been dispensed with
by his father and grandfather.

The procession took
over five hours to pass

and was of unparalleled magnificence,
as was the coronation.

All the ancient robes and regalia,

which had been deliberately destroyed
after the abolition ofthe kingship,

were lovingly re-created
as far as possible

to the old dimensions and forms.

The service followed the te
used for his father and grandfather,

and at the ensuing coronation banquet
held in Westminster Hall,

the King!s champion
flung down his gauntlet

in the traditional challenge
to fight in single combat

anywho would deny or gainsay
the claim of Charles ll

to be rightful heir
to the lmperial Crown of England.

It was almost as though

the Civil War, the republic
and the protectorate had never been.

Even the political and religious
disputes ofthe 1640s

would be revisited once more.

But during two decades
ofwar and upheaval,

important lessons had been learned.

Never again would an army
be permitted to wield

political power in England.

And never again

would the English seek to resolve
their political differences by force.

Within a generation, indeed,

the monarchywould undergo
another revolution.

But this time, gloriously,
not a drop of blood would be spilt.