Best Birthday Ever!

Most people dread hitting their 30th birthdays, but Charles II was delighted. Probably because he got a really awesome gift: the English throne. On May 29, 1660, Charles was reinstated to the throne his father was yanked off of, and with that monarchy returned to England and remains there to this day.

After being forced to flee England in his teens during the Civil War, Charles spent most of his late teens and 20’s living at The Hague, where his brother-in-law William II, Prince of Orange, ruled. He went to Scotland in 1651 and was crowned King of Scotland at Scone. He gathered a group of Scottish lords to lead an attack on England and attempt to reclaim his throne, but they were defeated, and Charles was once again forced to flee England, this time landing in Normandy. Neither his French nor his Dutch relatives would support him, so he turned to Spain for help recapturing the English throne. The Spanish gave him enough money to raise a small army that would eventually form the nucleus of the post-Restoration British army.

After Cromwell died in 1658, his son, Richard, was named Lord Protector. He didn’t last long, abdicating a mere nine months later. A general election was held that resulted in a House of Commons fairly evenly divided between Royalists and Parliamentarians, as well as Anglicans and Presbyterians. After the new Parliament gathered in April 1660, they received news of the Declaration of Breda, in which Charles promised to pardon those involved in the Civil War and his father’s execution, so long as those old enemies recognized him as king. That was enough for Parliament, which invited him to return home and retake his throne.

Charles did so, landing in Dover on May 25 and reaching London on May 29. Although he’d promised amnesty to his former enemies, he had excluded 50 people, and executed nine of the men involved in his father’s trial and execution. Others were imprisoned or simply prohibited from holding public office for life. Oliver Cromwell and three other men who died before Charles got home were dug up and decapitated posthumously.

Charles settled in, things quieted down, and he was crowned at Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1661. The reign of the Merry Monarch had officially begun.


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