The Restoration of the Monarchy
The monarchy was restored in 1660 when Charles II was called back from his exile in France. He was known as the “Merry Monarch”. He was a pleasure-loving easy-going sovereign, characteristics that he had probably acquired in France, and as his father before him, he believed in the divine right of the king. His became the most immoral in English history. But he was also witty and managed to reign in comfort for twenty-five years. In 1661 the Convention Parliament was replaced by the royalist “Cavalier” Parliament which passed vengeful legislations against puritan nonconformists.
In 1665 London was struck by a bubonic plague which killed 100.000 people and the following year a fire destroyed large parts of the city; the Puritans interpreted these catastrophes as punishment for the king’s immoral conduct.
After the reconstruction of the city, the Parliament’s fear of the monarchy and of the interest of the King toward the Catholic Church led the Parliament to force the King to agree to an act which prevented any catholic from holding public office (Test Act) and also led to the formation of the first British parties: the Whigs and the Tories. The Whigs, the descendants of the Parliamentarians, did not believe in absolute power but in their right to remove the king if proved faulty in his role of sovereign. The Tories, the descendants of the Royalists, were supporters of the Church and Crown and believed in the divine right of the king.