British Studies


Section 2

History of the British Isles

Class 13. Restoration. Glorious Revolution


The death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 left England without a political leader. His son, Richard Cromwell, who inherited the title of Lord Protector had no support in the army and had to retire. During 1659 and 1660, various political forces in England tried to dominate, but it was the supporters of the restoration of the English monarchy that ultimately prevailed. The son of executed Charles I, Charles II, was invited to take the crown, and in 1660 the dynasty of Stuarts re-established themselves on the English throne. In January 1661, the courpse of Oliver Cromwell was exhumed and hung in chains for public display.


King Charles II (b. 1630, ruled from 1660 to 1685), was known for his numerous adulteries (having no legitimate heirs, he had 16 confirmed and 6 probable illegitimate children.

Many MPs were afraid that Charles II would try to seek revenge for his father's death, so his power was even more restricted and he received a limited amount of money. All of these led John Wilmot to write of the monarch:


Restless he rolls from whore to whore
A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.


The Parliament, which now had an Anglican majority, also tried to suppress Protestant sects like the Puritanism. It secured Anglican dominance in England and stimulated religious emigration to the British colonies in America, which would have a considerable impact on the American history.


Great Plague of London

The last major outburst of bubonic plague in England which killed an estimated 100,000 people, or one-fifth of London's population. Lasted during 1665 and 1666.

Great Fire of London

A fire which lasted from 2 September to 5 September 1666. It destroyed the central part of London, in particular the City, including the old St.Paul's Cathedral.

Anti-Catholic sentiment

Evident sympathies of Charles II to the Catholicism coincided with the so-called anti-Catholic hysteria about alleged Roman Catholic plots to force England back into the Catholicism. In particular, it led to a number of anti-Catholic riots.

Tories and Whigs

Two Parliamentary factions which emerged during the reign of Charles II: Tories - supporters of the King, Whigs - the opposition. These names would later be used to label two major British parties: the Conservatives (the former) and the Liberals (the latter).


King James II (b. 1633, died 1701, ruled from 1685 to 1688) was a committed Catholic. He was also an fervent adherent of the absolute monarchy and clashed with the Parliament over the question of the royal power. When he produced a Catholic male heir, the fears of the Catholic succession led to the Glorious Revolution and disposition of James.


Jacobites and Jacobite Wars - James II and his heirs would claim for the English throne for as long as until 1807. Their supporters would be called Jacobites (from Jacobus, the Latin form of James), and uprisings organized by them would be called Jacobite Wars or Jacobite Uprisings.


The Glorious Revolution


1) Political (ambitions of James II for the absolute power);

2) Religious (fears of the restoration of the Catholicism).


To prevent the absolutist Catholic dynasty on the throne, leaders of the Parliament invited to the English throne the Dutch stadtholder William of Orange. William of Orange was staunch Protestant and a famous military leader. He was also married to the elder daughter of James II, Mary, also a Protestant. William's invasion was

William III of England (William of Orange), ruled England from 1688 to 1702 (from 1688 to 1694 jointly with his wife Queen Mary II).

Legacy of his reign:

1) Secured the Protestant dominance in England, Scotland and especially Ireland (the Orange Order).

2) Further limited power of the King and expanded power of the Parliament (Bill of Rights)

3) The alliance between England and the United Provinces unexpectedly led to the shift of the dominance in the world trade from Dutch to English merchants.


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