By New Year’s Day 1660, the Republican experiment in Britain was almost at an end and the country appeared to be drifting towards anarchy.
But on that day, General George Monck led a Parliamentary army across the border from Scotland into England at the village of Coldstream en route to London where he arrived on 3rd February. Monck, and other military leaders including Sir Thomas Fairfax in the north of England and Sir Theophilus Jones in Ireland, had concluded that the Restoration of the Monarchy was the only alternative to a further civil war.
Soon, the members of Parliament who had been expelled in Pride’s Purge were able to retake their seats and on 16th March, the Long Parliament was disbanded. Meanwhile, the King and parliamentary leaders rapidly agreed the Declaration of Breda promising amnesty, freedom of conscience and settlement of the New Model Army’s back pay.
Endorsed by Parliament, the way was open for the Restoration and on 23rd May, Charles II landed at Dover and made a triumphant entry into London on 29th May.
What happened next? How did ordinary people react? Was there relief or was there concern and uncertainty? To what extent was the policy of forgive and forget successful?
To answer these questions Associate Professor in Social History at the University of Oxford, Jonathan Healey, takes us through these events as they were seen by ordinary men and women as well as the well-known figures of the age.