The Treaty of Breda, 1650
After the execution of King Charles I in January 1649 and the establishment of the English Commonwealth, the King's son Charles, Prince of Wales was proclaimed his legitimate successor by the Scottish Parliament. However, the government of Scotland was dominated by the covenanting Kirk Party, which was determined that Charles should take the Covenant and agree to impose Presbyterianism throughout the Three Kingdoms before he could be crowned King of Scots or receive Scottish help to regain the throne of England.
Initial negotiations between Charles and representatives of the Scottish government were held at The Hague in March 1649 but broke down because Charles did not accept the legitimacy of the Kirk Party régime. However, his hopes of using Ireland as a rallying ground for the Royalist cause were thwarted by Cromwell's invasion in August 1649. Various European heads of state offered sympathy but no practical help for regaining the throne, so Charles and his council were obliged to call for another round of negotiations with the Scots.
Negotiations between Charles II and a delegation of Scottish commissioners opened at Breda in the Netherlands on 25 March 1650. Aware of Charles' desperate situation, the demands made by the Scottish Parliament were harsh:
- Charles was required to sign the Covenant and to promise to impose it upon everyone in the Three Kingdoms.
- All members of the King's household were to adopt the Presbyterian religion.
- Catholicism was never to be tolerated in the Three Kingdoms.
- The King was to recognise the Scottish Parliament and to confirm all Acts passed since 1641.
- The King was to annul all recent commissions and treaties — this was intended to force Charles to disown Montrose's expedition to Scotland and Ormond's treaty with the Irish Confederates.
Bad tempered wrangling continued through March and April. Charles tried to gain concessions that would allow a reconciliation with the Engagers, who were excluded from office in Scotland by the Act of Classes. He would not impose Presbyterianism in England nor would he annul the Irish treaty. But to the dismay of English Royalists, Charles finally agreed to take the Oath of the Covenant. Other contentious issues were to be discussed upon his arrival in Scotland. He signed the Treaty of Breda on 1 May 1650 and took the Covenant immediately before landing in Scotland on 23 June 1650.
S.R. Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate vol. i (London 1903)
David Stevenson, Revolution & Counter-Revolution in Scotland 1644-51 (Newton Abbott 1977