The Declaration of Breda, 1660

The Declaration of Breda was a manifesto issued in April 1660 by the exiled Charles II in which he outlined his initial terms for the Restoration of the monarchy. The Declaration was drawn up by Charles himself and his three principal advisers: Sir Edward Hyde, the Marquis of Ormond and Sir Edward Nicholas.

In March 1660, shortly after the final dissolution of the Long Parliament, General George Monck entered into secret negotiations with Charles' representative Sir John Grenville regarding the possibility of the King's return to power. Grenville was authorised to offer Monck high office in return for his help, while Monck himself claimed to have always been secretly working towards the Restoration — a view that came to be widely accepted later. Monck's terms were geared primarily towards satisfying the material concerns of the army: there was to be a general pardon for actions carried out under orders; arrears of pay were to be fully met; titles to former Crown and Church lands bought during the Interregnum were to be confirmed; religious toleration for moderate sectarians was to be guaranteed.

Following Monck's advice to move from Spanish territory to Breda in the Protestant Netherlands, Charles and his principal advisers prepared a conciliatory declaration that touched upon the major issues of indemnity, confirmation of land sales and the religious settlement. A free pardon and amnesty was offered to all who would swear loyalty to the Crown within forty day of the King's return. However, Charles skirted around all points of contention by referring the final details of the Restoration settlement to a future Parliament. Charles was aware that any legislation passed by the forthcoming Convention Parliament would have to be confirmed or refuted by a later Parliament summoned under the King's authority, and that the blame for inevitable disappointments in the Restoration settlement would then be borne by Parliament rather than by the Crown.

The Declaration was signed by Charles on 4 April 1660. Copies were prepared with separate letters to the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the army, the fleet and the City of London. Monck was offered a commission as commander-in-chief of the army. When Sir John Grenville delivered the Declaration to the newly-elected Convention Parliament on 1 May, both Houses unanimously voted for the Restoration.


Sources:

Godfrey Davies, The Restoration of Charles II, 1658-60 (San Marino 1955)

Ronald Hutton, Charles II, King of England, Scotland & Ireland (Oxford 1989)

Links:

The Declaration of Breda www.constitution.org