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Another post-revolutionary generation

November 30th, 2009 · No Comments

Risky Business
A bitterly divided nation, a monarchy splendiferously restored.
Another post-revolutionary generation of reaction.

When Charles II stepped ashore in Dover on May 27, 1660, and then entered London in a glorious procession two days later, on his 30th birthday, he was greeted with tolling church bells, cries of joy and expressions of hope. More than a decade had passed since his own exile to The Hague, the execution of his father and the rise of Oliver Cromwell’s republican Commonwealth—regarded as a dictatorship by the many who chafed under the rule of the “Lord Protector.” With the arrival of Charles—a tall, dark-haired man of physical grace—England’s monarchy was splendiferously restored.

Early in “A Gambling Man,” a detailed and thoroughly engrossing examination of the Restoration’s first decade, Jenny Uglow notes that Charles Stuart, upon his ascension, “wanted passionately to be seen as the healer of his people’s woes and the glory of his nation.” Cromwell’s regime had featured constant war and constant taxes. The population was bitterly divided among Anglicans, Catholics and dissenting Protestants—Presbyterians, Puritans, Quakers, Baptists. A huge standing army had burdened the people financially and frightened them; such an army, it was not unreasonably thought, could be used to impose a tyranny.

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