ON 8 May 1661, Charles rode to open his first English Parliament, wearing the crown so recently placed upon his head and followed by the peers in their scarlet robes. At Westminster he welcomed both Houses with a speech commending the Act of Indemnity. Clarendon followed him by praising the work of the Convention and by asking its successor to confirm it, to honour the spirit of the Declaration of Breda, to improve the royal revenue, and to relieve peaceful nonconformists while repressing sedition. The Houses gave thanks for this with every sign of pleasure, and the Commons elected as Speaker the government favourite, Sir Edward Turner. With little sign of strain, the MPs then set to work to defy much of the advice tendered to them by their monarch and the Lord Chancellor. The result was a growing tension between executive and legislature in England which was to break within two years into open ill will.
One of the first achievements of the 'Cavalier' Parliament was to obliterate most of the constitutional reforms of the previous twenty years. It ordered the public burning of the Solemn League and Covenant and of four other documents, and repealed the statute of 1642 which excluded bishops from the Lords. Another Act declared control of the militia to be vested in the King, followed by yet another to reverse the attainder of Strafford, the great minister for whose life the young Charles had interceded. Thus the two great issues which had divided Charles I from the Long Parliament were decided in his son's favour. The King's security was further increased by an extension of the law of treason to cover attempts to coerce him and both the written and spoken word. As Charles's reward for his apparent fidelity to the Anglican Church during exile, and in response to the rumours which had circulated then, it was made illegal to call him a Catholic. Much of this work could be portrayed as conciliation, but the immolation of the Covenant could not. Not only was it opposed by 103 MPs, but was probably the first issue to produce an open division in the government, for Morice acted as teller against it in the Commons while the Privy Counsellors in the Lords seem to have let that House endorse it without a struggle, Charles appeared indifferent
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Publication information: Book title: Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Contributors: Ronald Hutton - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 166.
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