Monarchy with David Starkey (2004–2007): Season 3, Episode 1 - The Return of the King - full transcript

The remarkable story of King Charles II, who secured the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660.

for resident and tourist alike,

the British monarchy and nation
seem to be inericably linked.

After more than a thousand years,

our head of state is still
an hereditary sovereign.

A sign of enviable
political stability

or perhaps of our constipated
reverence for tradition.

But there was a time, not long ago,

when the English attitude to monarchy
was very far from reverent

and the Crown anything but stable.

For centuries rival claimants
had fought for the throne

in struggles that were dynastic and
then, more dangerously, religious.

Finally, in 1649, as Europe watched
in horrified fascination,

the English Parliament
executed King Charles l

and abolished the monarchy

In little more than a decade, with
the restoration of King Charles ll,

the monarchy made
a remarkable comeback.

But, far from ending the upheaval,

the Restoration proved to be only
a prelude to invasion and revolution.

Foreign kings would wear
the crown of England

and theywould spill
British blood to keep it.

Nevertheless, in spite ofthe
revolution and the bloodshed,

a new political settlement was forged
between Crown and people.

A settlement
that laid the foundations

of Britain!s imperial greatness

and would make ofthis monarchy
the world!s first modern state.

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On 29 May 1660, thousands thronged
the streets of London

to cheer the arrival
of Charles Stuart.

Charles had returned to England
from exile

to claim his father!s throne

and to restore the monarchy
to the heart of national life.

But if, after 11 years
of dreary republicanism,

the crowds lapped up
the pomp of his coronation,

Charles knewthat
the English political elite

were still dangerously divided over
the nature and rights of kingship.

Was an English monarch sustained
by the will ofthe people

or ordained by the will of God?

What Charles wanted people to believe

is shown by his encouragement
of an old superstition.

Every Friday at
the Whitehall Banqueting House

he would touch hundreds
of his ailing subjects,

who believed that the royal hands
could cure scrofula,

a disfiguring form oftuberculosis.

The ceremony oftouching
for the king!s evil was ancient

and it was a sign ofthe divine
nature of English kingship.

But ever since
the reign of Henry Vlll

the connection between
divinity and kingship

had ceased to be merely mystical

and it had become political.

For Henry Vlll had broken
with the Pope of Rome

and made himself supreme head
on earth ofthe Church of England.

Church and state had fused

and the King was supreme in both.

For the successors of Henry Vlll
the role of king,

as head of both Church
and state in England,

had proved to be a poisoned chalice,

for it had made the Crown
the focus ofthe religious conflict

which followed the Reformation.

In the end, the conflict
had led to the Civil War

and the death of Charles l.

And his son knewthat
these same quarrels still stirred

beneath the surface of English life.

At first sight, King Charles ll,
seen here in his coronation portrait,

was well suited to pick his way
through the resulting quagmire.

His father, Charles l,

whose High Anglicanism was matched
by the rigidity of his character,

had fought a civil war to uphold the
authority ofthe king in the state

and of bishops in the Church.

In contrast, the only rigid thing
about his son, Charles ll,

was his male member,

and he famously fathered at least 17
bastards by a plethora of mistresses.

Otherwise there was nothing to which
he could not stoop his 6ft frame,

no corner, however tight,
that he could not turn

and no loyalty, however deep, which -
once it ceased to be convenient -

he regarded as binding.

Would that slippery flexibility
help him avoid his father!s fate

orwould it prove his undoing?

His first test wasn!t long in coming.

In his last months in exile, Charles
had issued the Declaration of Breda,

a manifesto addressed to Parliament
and the nation

which helped him win back the throne.

In it Charles promised to uphold
religious toleration in England,

a liberty to tender consciences.

Now, as king, he sought to
defuse the religious issue

by enshrining the Declaration in law.

But Parliament had changed.

In the elections held
after the Restoration

the Anglicans had regained
the political ascendency

they!d lost in the Civil War.

They had fought and suffered

to defend the established
Church of England.

Nowthere would be no toleration
for their religious opponents.

Rejecting Charles!s Declaration,

they instead required oaths of
allegiance to the Anglican Church

from all clergymen
and public servants.

Thus debarring both dissenting
Protestants and Roman Catholics alike

from public life.

Charles had little sympathy

with the Protestant opponents
ofthe Church of England,

whom he blamed for the Civil War
and his father!s execution.

But Catholics were a different story.

His mother, Queen Henrietta Maria,
was a proselytising Catholic

and there were persistent rumours

that Charles himself
had converted to Catholicism,

or, at least, was
dangerously partial to it.

So, in December 1662,

Charles tried once again
to impose religious toleration

and proposed a second declaration
to Parliament.

In this he invoked his royal power
to dispense the law

in favour of both Catholics
and non-Anglican Protestants

who, modestly and without scandal,

performed their devotions
in their own way.

And he called on Parliament

to make such a suspension
general and permanent.

But the House of Commons,
with its hardline Anglican majority,

refused the King point-blank

and Charles, well aware that
Anglicans were the bedrock support

ofthe restored monarchy,

had no choice but to climb down.

It was at this point that Charles
turned to the traditional consolation

of a leader facing troubles at home -

the diversion ofwar abroad.

The 17th centurywas the golden age
ofthe Dutch Republic.

This resolutely Protestant nation

had been built on a policy
of religious toleration.

But it was their
advanced financial system

which had helped turn the Dutch
into an economic superpower

which threatened to take over
English maritime trade.

Oliver Cromwell had already tried to
cut them down to size in the 1650s.

Now Charles was persuaded

that he should seek to outdo
his Republican predecessor

by launching a second conflict.

The war began well for Charles.

The first major engagement
was at Lowestoft,

offthe East Anglian coast.

The Dutch had assembled
a mighty fleet,

but theywere crushed
by the English Na

commanded by Charles!s brother,
James, the Lord High Admiral.

25 Dutch ships were lost
for one English vessel,

and the flagship, the fRoyal
Charles!, blew up the Dutch flagship

togetherwith its commander,
Admiral Obdam.

But Charles!s victorywas quickly
overshadowed by catastrophe at home.

In the winter,
the Great Plague struck London.

Charles and his court
decamped to Oxford,

but disease ravaged the capital

and the gates ofthe City of London
were closed.

The epidemic claimed 100,000 lives,
a fifth of London!s population.

Critical supply lines to the na
and Charles!s war effort broke down.

Another blowwas dealt
the following year

when the Great Fire of London burned
in the city for three days and nights

in September 1666.

The King left his whores
and mistresses

and showed high personal courage
by directing rescue operations.

But the heart ofthe city
was destroyed

and 100,000 people
were left homeless.

Taking advantage ofthe dislocation,

the Dutch fleet
swept into English waters.

Things hit rock-bottom with the war

when the Dutch Admiral De Ruyter
sailed up the Medway

where the English fleet was anchored,

captured the flagship,
the fRoyal Charles!,

on which the King had returned
to England in 1660,

burnt several other ships

and forced the rest to scatter
and to beach themselves.

It was a disaster

that led to a profound bout
of national introspection.

Ffln all things,!!
reflected the diarist Samuel Pepys,

ffin wisdom, courage,
force and success,

ffthe Dutch have the best of us

ffand do end the war
with victory on their side.!!

Was it because their financial system
allowed them to outspend the English

orwas it because religious
toleration led to domestic peace

as opposed to the religious conflicts
which had so debilitated England?

For many of Charles!s subjects,
the lesson was clear -

don!t fight the Dutch, imitate them.

For there was now a newthreat
to England!s security -

Louis XIV!s
aggressively Catholic France,

which seemed hell-bent on remaking
the whole of Europe in its own image.

Who, the French or the Dutch,
would be the ally

and who the enemy?

England and Charles
would have to choose.

Charles ll had returned from exile
on a wave of popular adulation.

But, like his father before him,

he!d soon found himself
at loggerheads with Parliament

and humiliated by military defeat.

Once again it was clear
the English monarchywasn!t working.

If, however, Charles wanted a model

of howto run a modern,
successful monarchy

he had only to look across
the Channel to France.

The Palace ofVersailles
was the magnificent new setting

for the French monarchy.

France, like England, had recently
been torn apart by civil war,

but, instead of pitting the king
against his subjects,

the French conflict was within
the highest ranks ofthe nobility

and the royal family itself.

It was only finally resolved in 1661
when the 23-year-old Louis XIV,

who had been king
since the age of four,

began his personal rule.

Louis was Charles!s first cousin
and brother-in-law.

The two were similar in appearance

with their powerful physique,
swarthy complexion,

full lips and hooked nose.

They also shared the same
insatiable sexual appetite.

But there the resemblance ended,

for Louis,
despite all his lustfulness,

was a man of rigid dignity
and inflexible will.

His iron self-control meant,
for instance,

that he was able
to give a public audience

immediately after having
undergone an operation,

without anaesthetic of course,
to treat an anal fistula.

And what the King expected
of himself he demanded of others.

The way Louis ruled France

was very different to the limitations
on Charles in England.

In Louis!s Catholic kingdom
there was no representative assembly

to come between the king
and his people.

Instead Louis personally directed

a close-knit group
of departmental officials

who shared his commitment
to the glory of France and her king.

Versailles expresses
in marble and gold

the splendour and absolutism
of Louis!s reign.

His campaign of imperial expansion,
state-sponsored industrial growth

and centralised control
ofthe arts and sciences

all were made to him the glories
of Le Roi Soleil, the Sun King.

One king, one law,

one Catholic faith.

And the formula seemed to work

for, in little more than a decade,

Louis had transformed France
from the sick man of Europe

into the Continental superpower and
the very model of a modern monarchy.

For most of Charles!s
Protestant subjects,

French absolutism was
irreligious tyranny.

And even Anglicans,
traditional defenders of royal power,

were fearful of Louis!s aggressive,
persecuting Catholicism.

But Charles took
a very different view.

Partly he envied
Louis!s untrammelled power,

but it was also a matter
of family connection.

For Charles was half French
through his Catholic mother.

He had spent much of his exile
in France,

and the ties were strengthened when
Charles!s youngest sister, Henrietta,

married Louis!s brother,
Philippe, Duke of Orléans.

Henrietta was intelligent and pretty

and fast became
a firm favourite of Louis

and a powerful conduit between
the English and French courts.

Charles then had a strong
French Catholic heritage,

so when, in 1668, his brother,
James, confessed to Charles

that he!d converted to Rome,

far from expressing horror
at the news,

Charles made a remarkable
admission of his own -

that he too intended to do the same.

This was playing with fire,

for how could the King,
as head ofthe Church of England,

become a Catholic?

All too aware ofthe risks, Charles
did his best to cover his tracks.

A secret meeting was summoned
in James!s private study

at which only the King, his brother

and three confidential advisers
were present.

Tearfully, Charles explained
his determination

to adopt the true faith.

But ho

Unanimously, the rest advised him
to inform Louis XIV

and to seek the French king!s
powerful advice and assistance.

Charles and Louis had already opened
secret negotiations,

using Charles!s sister
as a go-between,

for a renversement d!alliance

that would see France and England
joining together

to make war on the Dutch.

Charles!s apparent resolution
to convert

now drove discussions forward.

It took over a year
to reach agreement.

Finally, in May 1670,

under cover of a flying visit
by the Duchess of Orléans

to see her brother the king,

a secret treaty, the secret
Treaty of Dover, was signed.

In it Charles reaffirmed
his determination

to reconcile himself
to the Church of Rome

while Louis, for his part, promised
the large subsidy of 2 million livre

to help Charles suppress any
armed resistance to his conversion.

Together, if need be,
with 6,000 crack French troops.

The two kings were then to coordinate
an attack on the Netherlands

with Louis bearing the brunt
ofthe land warfare

and Charles the naval.

Charles was still smarting from
his humiliation at Dutch hands.

Was his promise to convert
to Catholicism simply a ploy

to draw Louis into
an alliance against them

orwas it sincere?

Eitherway, in flirting
with Catholicism

the King was taking a terrible risk.

Though the te ofthe
Treaty of Doverwas kept secret,

rumours of its contents
began to circulate.

The result was a dangerous
polarisation in English politics.

The worst fears ofthe King!s
opponents were confirmed

when, on 15 March 1672, he issued
the Declaration of lndulgence,

which, modelled on the abortive
declaration of a decade earlier,

used his royal authority to suspend
the penalties on Catholics

as well as Protestant dissenters.

Then, only two days later,

Charlesjoined Louis XIV
in declaring war on the Dutch.

The effect was disastrous,

confirming, as it did,
in the popular mind

the fatal association
of arbitrary government,

Catholicism and a deeply unpopular
foreign policy.

Charles committed a fleet
of higher quality than previously

to this third Dutch war.

But English efforts to secure
naval supremacywere thwarted

by canny Dutch tactics in a series
of battles in the North Sea.

At first the French fared better.

Louis!s army advanced into Holland

and occupied five
out of seven Dutch provinces.

But the Dutch refused to roll over.

They broke their dykes

and they used the floodwaters
to stop the French advance.

Neither Louis nor Charles had won
the crushing victory they expected.

Even worse, the man who led
the heroic Dutch resistance

was Charles!s own nephew
William, Prince of Orange,

son of his elder sister, Mary.

The princes of Orange were
originally the rulers

of a little principality
in the south of France.

But, thanks to their heroic
leadership ofthe Protestant Dutch

in their struggle for freedom against
their Catholic Spanish rulers,

they!d become the leading family
in the Dutch Republic.

William was brought up here

in his birthplace of
the Binnenhof Palace in The Hague.

From his tutors he absorbed
an austere Protestantism,

a sense ofthe historic destiny
ofthe House of Orange

and a passionate love of hunting.

He also emerged as a man!s man
with little time forwomen

and a lot for attractive young men.

And all ofthese things -
his religiosity, his family pride,

even his homoeroticism -

came togetherwhen,
in the great crisis of 1672,

he discovered his lifelong vocation,

to lead the military resistance

to the encroaching might
of Catholic France.

First in the Netherlands
and then throughout Western Europe.

William was one of several
Protestants in Charles!s family.

For, even though their father
had converted to Catholicism,

Mary and Anne, the children
of Charles!s brother James,

had been brought up as Anglicans.

The Protestant line
was further strengthened

when it was decided
that it would be politic

that Mary should marry
William of Orange.

The wedding took place here
at St James!s Palace

on 4 November 1677,
the Prince!s birthday.

Despite the happy anniversary,

the marriage got offto
a rocky start.

Mary is said to have wept
for a day and a half

when she was told that she had to
marry the ugly little Dutchman.

Whilst William, we know, had already
made prudential inquiries

via the wife ofthe English
ambassador in The Hague

as to Mary!s suitability
for a man like himself

who might not perhaps be very easy
for a wife to live with.

Nevertheless, William and Mary
soon became mutually devoted.

Indeed Marywould put
her loyalty to her husband

above that to her own father,

James, Duke ofYork,
the heir to the throne.

English historywould have been
very different otherwise.

For the marriage ofWilliam to Mary

offered to Englishmen unhappy
with Charles!s aping of Louis XIV

a very different model of monarchy.

For William wasn!t king

but the more or less hereditary
governor ofthe Dutch provinces

and captain general ofthe army.

This made him, in effect,

the constitutional prince president
ofthe Dutch Republic.

In 17th-century Europe,

the Dutch hybrid of hereditary
monarchy and republic was an anomaly,

but it had proved its resilience
in decades of bitter fighting

with the might of Louis XIV!s France.

In this struggle between
the Protestant David

and the Catholic Goliath,

Charles, in the eyes
of most of his subjects,

had picked the wrong side.

Would the King choose any more wisely

in the even greater crisis
that was about to erupt at home

over the succession to the throne?

The signs were not good.

Since the reign of Henry Vlll, two
issues had plagued English politics.

First, the controversial question
ofthe king!s right

to determine the religion
of his subjects.

And second,
the matter ofthe succession.

Early in his reign, Charles
had failed to enforce his will

on the issue of religion.

He would now face
his greatest challenge,

on the issue ofthe succession.

In 1662, Charles had married

the daughter ofthe king
and queen of Portugal.

When Charles had first seen
Catherine of Braganza,

with her hair dressed in long,
projecting ringlets

in the Portuguese fashion,

he!s said to have exclaimed,
ffThey have brought me a bat.!!

The King, so fertile
with his mistresses,

had no children with Catherine,

but, despite her
repeated miscarriages

and at least one serious
exploration of divorce

on grounds of her barrenness,

Charles - perhaps out of guilt,
perhaps out of affection -

stuckwith her.

Charles!s childlessness by his wife

meant that his legitimate heir
was his brother, James.

The James who had so fervently
embraced Catholicism.

But could a Catholic be king?

For the king wasn!t only monarch,

he was also supreme governor
ofthe Church of England.

And a Catholic king would,
it was widely feared,

try to make the Church Catholic too.

To the vast majority of Protestant
Englishmen this was intolerable.

The result was a struggle
known as the Exclusion Crisis

between the King,

who was determined to keep
his brother in the succession,

and many of his subjects,

who were equally determined
to exclude James from it.

The Catholic James was made
ofvery different stuff

from his sinuous elder brother.

James was as highly sexed
as Charles -

indeed he copulated
as promiscuously as a rabbit -

but he was otherwise formal,

and good only at giving
and receiving orders.

Unlike Charles, who was careful

not to associate himself
publiclywith Catholicism,

James never once deviated from it.

It was an attitude that
made conflict inevitable.

In 1673, the Anglican-dominated
Parliament passed legislation

banning anyone from public office
who would not take communion

according to the rite
ofthe Church of England

or sign a declaration denying
the key Catholic tenet

that the bread and wine in the mass

were the actual body
and blood of Christ.

As Lord Admiral,
James held high public office,

but, as a now convinced Catholic,

he could take neither the required
oaths nor the Anglican sacrament.

The deadline for swearing
the oaths was 14 June.

That same day, James surrendered
the admiralty to the King.

But his resignation raised
a bigger question still -

if, as a Roman Catholic,
James couldn!t be Lord Admiral,

how could he be entrusted with the
infinitely greater office of king?

As yet, few Englishmen,

still traumatised by
the execution of Charles l,

were willing to contemplate
removing his legitimate heir

from the succession.

But then England was swept by
one ofthe strangest episodes

of mass delusion in her history,

starring a most remarkable hoaxer.

Titus Oates was lame, stunted,

homosexual and eraordinarily ugly.

His mouth was described as being
in the middle of his face.

Moreover, he!d failed at everything.

He!d been expelled from school,

passed through two Cambridge colleges
without taking a degree,

been ordained on false pretences

and driven out of his parish for
making a false accusation of sodomy,

been cashiered as a naval chaplain
for committing buggery himself,

and finally, after a probably false
conversion to Roman Catholicism,

he!d been frogmarched out of no fewer
than three Jesuit seminaries abroad.

By July 1678,
Oates was back in London,

thirsting and searching for revenge
against the world in general

and Roman Catholics in particular.

From his febrile imagination

Oates conjured a gigantic
Catholic conspiracy

in which his erstwhile teachers,
the Jesuits,

would murder Charles
and forcibly reconvert England.

He wrote the whole thing up
in a pamphlet.

On 13 August, a copy of Oates!s
account was handed to Charles

on his usual brisk early morning walk
in St James!s Park.

On 6 September, Oates swore
to the truth of his account

before Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey,

a fashionable, rather
publicity-seeking magistrate.

And on 28 and 29 September,

he appeared before
the Pri Council itself.

Charles shredded Oates!s evidence,

though his advisers were inclined
to take it more seriously.

Then, for the first time in his life,
Oates struck lucky.

For one ofthose that he accused
was Edward Colman,

secretary to James!s second wife,
Mary of Modena,

and, like her husband,
another Roman Catholic.

In Justice Godfrey, Oates had gained
official recognition of his plot.

In Edward Colman, Oates claimed
to have found proof.

Colman was almost as great
a fantasist as Oates.

He had written to Louis XIV!s
private chaplain

soliciting help
for the conversion of England.

Colman!s papers were searched
and the correspondence discovered.

Here at last it seemed was proof
positive of Oates!s allegations.

FfWe have a mightywork
upon our hands,

ffno less than the conversion
ofthree kingdoms.!!

Success would give the greatest blow
to the Protestant religion

that it had received since its birth.

Even more opportune was
the fate of Justice Godfrey,

who!d first given official
recognition to Oates!s fantasies.

Oates!s winning streak continued
even more sensationally

when Justice Godfreywent missing
in mysterious circumstances

on 12 October.

Already, that evening
rumours swept the city

that he!d been murdered
by the papists.

Five days later the rumours
appeared to be confirmed

when his bodywas discovered face
down in a ditch on Primrose Hill.

There was hea bruising
around his neck.

His own sword had been driven
through his heart so hard

that the point protruded
several inches from his back.

Indeed it was so much
a case of overkill

that some suspected,
even at the time,

that the death was really
a suicide disguised as a murder.

But in the heat ofthe moment
such doubts were swept aside.

The coroner!sjury
returned a verdict of murder

and the London mob were
sure that it knew

just who had Godfrey!s blood
on their hands -

Oates!s papist conspirators.

On 31 October, Godfreywas given
an impressive funeral

at St Martin!s-in-the-Fields

at which the preacher delivered
a fiery sermon on the te

ffAs a man falleth before the wicked,
so fallest thou.!!

The idea of a Catholic plot
nowtook hold

and a national panic ensued.

A series oftrials were set in motion

and no fewer than 35 people,
most ofthem Catholic priests,

were condemned to
the hideous death of a traitor

on the mere say-so of Oates and his
steadily growing band of informers.

Oates had touched the raw nerve
of rabid anti-Catholicism

in all Protestant Englishmen.

Emboldened, a powerful
parliamentary faction

led by the Earl of Shaftesbury

nowtook aim at the biggest
Catholic target of all -

James, the King!s brother and heir
presumptive ofthe British Crown.

The Earl of Shaftesbury
was one ofthe most complex

and controversial figures ofthe age.

Described by the poet Dryden

as ffresolved in mind to ruin
or to rule the state!!,

Shaftesburywent from being Charles!s
Chancellor ofthe Exchequer

to becoming the most
vigorous opponent

of his younger brother
James!s succession.

Shaftesbury and his supporters drew
on their skills as propagandists

to blacken James!s name.

And they used London!s newest
magnificent landmark

to spread the message.

This is the monument built to
commemorate the Fire of London

and finished only the year before
the outbreak ofthe fPopish Plot!.

The monument was a modern marvel.

At 202ft it was the highest
vantage point in the city.

In a pamphlet entitled fAn Appeal
From the Country to the City!,

the anonymous author entreated
Londoners to climb the 311 steps

to the top of ffyour newest pyramid!!
and admire their rebuilt capital.

But then theywere to imagine
the city on fire once more,

its streets running with blood

and the fires of Smithfield

burning their Protestant victims
at the stake again

just as they!d done in the reign
ofthe last Catholic monarch,

Blood Mary.

And all this would happen,
the appeal insisted,

ifthe Catholic James were
allowed to succeed as king.

The appeal didn!t name
James directly.

Instead it alluded to the bas-relief
at the foot ofthe monument

which showed James
and his brother, Charles,

inspiring the rebuilding ofthe city
after the Great Fire.

But James!s concern was a sham,
the pamphlet claimed.

Instead one eminent papist, James,
had connived in the disaster,

pretending to einguish flames lit,
of course, by Catholics,

and rejoiced in
the destruction ofthe city.

Fired by such propaganda,

the electorate returned parliaments
in 1679 and again in 1680

in which there was a clear majority
for James!s exclusion.

Charles would have to fight for
his brother!s right to the throne

and, with it, for the very idea
of hereditary monarchy itself.

The Oxford Parliament of 1681

was the setting for the turning point
in the reign of Charles ll

as the crisis over the succession
reached its climax.

Faced with two successive parliaments

in which there had been
a clear majority

for the exclusion from the crown
for his brother, James,

Charles dissolved them both.

Now, as he faced yet another
exclusionist parliament,

Charles exploited a keyweakness
in the opposition.

For the exclusionists were divided
overwho should succeed Charles.

The more moderate favoured
James!s daughter Mary

and her husband, William of Orange.

While the Earl of Shaftesbury and
more radical Members of Parliament

backed Charles!s eldest bastard son,
the Duke of Monmouth.

Born in 1649, Monmouth
was handsome, charming,

but also spoiled, badly educated

and possessed of
an ugly streak ofviolence,

having been involved in both
a mutilation and a murder.

But there was a problem with
Monmouth!s candidacy to the throne

for he was illegitimate.

Orwas he?

Rumours, fanned by Monmouth
himself, were circulated

that his parents had
been secretly married.

There were supposed to be witnesses

and a black box containing
irrefutable written evidence.

But Charles, fond though he was

ofthe strapping
first fruit of his loins,

was not prepared to allow Monmouth

to shunt his own legitimate brother,
James, aside.

So, in January 1679,
Charles summoned the Pri Council

and in the presence ofAlmighty God
solemnly declared

that he had been married
to no woman whatever

but his wife, Queen Catherine.

The Exclusion Crisis had now
penetrated the royal family

and split it
as it had done the nation.

Both rivals to the throne -
first James and later Monmouth -

were dispatched into honourable exile

in a vain attempt to lower
the political temperature.

The inability of
the exclusionists to agree

on a single Protestant
candidate for the throne

was one thing strengthening
the hand of Charles and James.

The otherwas the exclusionists!
perceived eremism,

which revived uncomfortable memories
ofthe Civil War.

The result was that the Exclusion
Crisis provoked anotherwar,

ofwords and ideas,

out ofwhich was born
our modern 2-party system.

On the one side were the Whigs,
who believed in religious toleration

and a monarchy that finally
answered to the people.

At times their language, demagoguery

and allies amongst
Protestant dissenters

revived memories ofthe Civil War.

On the other side were the Tories,

originally an abusive term
for lrish cattle thieves,

who were sympathetic to James!s right
to succeed his brother.

They believed that the authority of
the monarch came directly from God

rather than from the people.

They also believed in hereditary
succession, passive obedience

and a monopolistic, persecuting
Church of England.

The Whigs had made the running
during the Exclusion Crisis.

Now it was the turn ofthe Tories.

Charles met his
fourth parliament here

in the Convocation House at Oxford.

The Commons and Shaftesbury!s group
in the Lords, as usual,

were hot for exclusion.

But the King, sensing the turning
ofthe political tide, stood firm.

Indeed, he even seized the initiative

and, setting aside his own
personal religious beliefs,

attached his crown firmly to
the Tories and the Anglican Church.

Ffl have,!! the King declared
from the throne,

fflaw and reason and all
right-thinking men on my side.

Ffl have the Church.!!

And here the King gestured
towards the bench of bishops.

FfAnd nothing will ever separate us.!!

In this grandstand moment,

Charles had successfully
capitalised on the growing fear

that Whig supremacywould lead
to republican chaos and civil war.

Charles, having dissolved
the Oxford Parliament,

nowturned his attention
to the congenial task

oftaking revenge on Shaftesbury
and the Whigs

for their part in the fPopish Plot!
and the Exclusion Crisis.

The King attacked the stronghold
ofthe Whigs in London

and other town governments
and purged them from public office.

In despair at the sudden
turn of events,

the Whig leaders now made the mistake
of dabbling in treason.

A plot was unearthed to kill the King
and his brother at Rye House

on the road from Newmarket.

Charles ruthlessly struck
at anyone remotely involved.

One Whig lord committed suicide
in the Tower,

two were publicly beheaded

and many ofthe rest,
including Shaftesbury and Monmouth,

fled into exile in the Netherlands.

England nowwitnessed
a Tory royalist triumph.

Like the French absolutism of
Louis XIV he so much admired,

Charles celebrated his reign in
soaring stone and massive bronze.

A statue of Charles!s executed father
was re-erected in London.

And, above all, the great bulk
of St Paul!s Cathedral

was rising over the city -

the noblest, most eloquent,

most crushing symbol
of an Anglican absolutism.

The Church of England now condemned
all the doctrines ofWhiggism

as false, seditious and impious

and declared most ofthem heretical
and blasphemous as well.

Toryism was proclaimed
as an eternal verity

and the duty of submission
and obedience to kings

to be absolute and without exception.

By throwing himself unreservedly into
the arms ofthe Church of England,

Charles had recruited
the Anglican Tories

to an unequivocal support
of his power

and his brother James!s succession.

All thoughts of Dutch-style
toleration or constitutional monarchy

were cast aside

as England seemed set to follow
the French-style route to modernity

with an Anglican rather than
a Catholic absolute monarchy.

But what would happen if
the king ceased to be Anglican?

England would soon find out.

For on his deathbed, 5 February 1685,

Charles finally converted
to Catholicism.

The following morning he died
and was succeeded without a struggle

by his out and proud
Catholic brother, James.

The result would test
the relationship of Church and state

to destruction

and send a Stuart
on his travels once more.

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