Life in Cromwellian England & The Glorious Revolution

After King Charles I of England was beheaded in 1649, the Puritans took control. Eventually, Oliver Cromwell was named Lord Protector of England. Cromwell and the Puritans wanted to foster piety and morality in England, and made several rules and regulations the English had to follow. Theaters were shut down, music was frowned upon (unless it was part of a worship service), and many of the arts suffered. Taverns, most sports, and most work on Sunday were all banned. Christmas celebrations and decorations were suppressed so people could contemplate on Christ’s birth instead.

Anglicans and Catholics were both persecuted under Cromwell. The Anglican clergy, who used to be very influential, now had to have secret church services to avoid persecution by the government. Catholics, who were persecuted even before the Puritans gained control of the government, continued to be repressed under Cromwell.

When Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard became the Lord Protector. Richard was not a good administrator, and eventually resigned. Due to the strict Puritan rules and military rule of Cromwell, momentum began building up to bring the Stuart monarchy back. When Charles II and the monarchy returned to England, there was widespread rejoicing. His arrival was seen as a return of stability, which it was in some ways. His initial popularity faded, but he continued to be secure in his position because his heir-apparent and brother, James the Duke of York, was seen as an even worse ruler.

James had converted to Catholicism in 1667, which made him suspicious in the eyes of many of the people. James also seemed to have absolutist tendencies, which were connected with Catholicism in the minds of many. After Titus Oates spread word of a fake “Popish Plot”, James was viewed with even more suspicion.

Charles II died without a legitimate heir to the throne, so his brother James became the king as James II in 1685. James appointed many Catholic advisors and strove for religious toleration, which viewed by some as a move to eventually make Catholicism the state religion.

James’ heir-apparent was his daughter Mary, a Protestant. Because of this, many people held their peace, hoping that the next monarch would be a Protestant. But, when James’ wife gave birth to a son in mid-1688, this meant that the next ruler would probably be a Catholic.

William of Orange, the husband of Mary and James’ son-in-law, was asked to come to England to save England’s liberties and the Protestant religion. James fled to France, and there was no civil war. William and Mary agree to the Bill of Rights written by the Parliament, and they reigned as co-monarchs in England.

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