The Restoration, 1659-60

Political chaos after the fall of the Protectorate enables Charles II to win back the throne.

Royal arms by Wenceslas HollarRoyal arms engraved by Wenceslas Hollar

The republican Rump Parliament was reinstated In May 1659 after the fall of the Cromwellian Protectorate. Although the army had forced the resignation of Richard Cromwell, there was still mutual hostility between army leaders and civilian republicans in Parliament. In a deliberate trial of strength, Parliament revoked the commissions of nine senior officers. Major-General John Lambert responded by marching on Westminster and expelling the Rump, as Oliver Cromwell had done in 1653. Lambert's military junta appointed a Committee of Safety to act as an interim government.

When Sir Arthur Heselrige called for support against the junta, General George Monck, the commander-in-chief in Scotland, demanded Parliament’s reinstatement as the only legally constituted government. Faced with almost universal opposition, the military junta collapsed and the Rump Parliament was restored once again.

At Parliament's invitation, Monck marched for London in January 1660. When he arrived, Monck unexpectedly supported demands for the reinstatement of those MPs who had been excluded from Parliament during the army purges of 1648. The excluded MPs were re-admitted in February 1660, thus reconstituting the Long Parliament for its final session.

Meanwhile, the exiled Charles the Second and his supporters watched with interest as the political turmoil unfolded in England. Crucially, Charles' representatives entered secret negotiations with Monck to gain his support for the possibility of the King's return to power. The Long Parliament finally dissolved itself in March 1660 after providing for elections for a new Convention Parliament. Charles issued a conciliatory declaration of his intentions from Breda in April 1660, which was unconditionally accepted by the Convention.

Charles was proclaimed King on 8 May and arrived in London to reclaim the throne on 29 May, 1660. He was crowned on St George's Day, 1661.