The Scottish Parliament under Charles Ii, 1660-1685

The Scottish Parliament under Charles Ii, 1660-1685

The Scottish Parliament under Charles Ii, 1660-1685

The Scottish Parliament under Charles Ii, 1660-1685

Synopsis

On 14 May 1660, Charles II, restored to the throne of his father, was proclaimed king of Great Britain and Ireland at the market-cross of Edinburgh, bringing to an end over twenty years of internal upheaval. At the subsequent meeting of the Scottish parliament in January 1661, the ascendant royalist administration sought to abolish all constitutional innovations introduced during the revolutionary period in an attempt to secure the royal prerogative and prevent a repeat of rebellion from below. This book traces the background to the restoration of the monarchy in Scotland, explains why the Scottish political elite were so willing to relinquish power back to the king and assesses the impact of the restrictive Restoration constitutional settlement on subsequent parliamentary sessions in the reign of Charles II. It provides for the first time a detailed account of Charles II's Scottish parliament - who attended and why, what they did and parliament's role under an increasingly authoritarian crown. Tracing the path from the widespread popular royalism that marked the beginning of Charles II's reign to the increasing violence and resistance which the attempted reassertion of the royal prerogative provoked, each session of parliament is set within the political and historical context of the time in which it sat, to provide a fresh perspective on a previously neglected area of Scottish history.

Excerpt

Until relatively recently, the Restoration era was one of the murkier corners of Scottish history. Previous studies of Scotland in the reign of Charles II (of which there have been a limited few) have tended to focus exclusively on the religious conflict between presbyterian dissenters and a government-supported episcopal church, as if this was the only subject-matter of note for historians of the Restoration period. Until the latter half of the twentieth century, it was Robert Wodrow's portrayal of an age of brutality, in which the people were involved in a godly struggle in defence of presbyterianism, that dominated the bulk of research. Whereas Wodrow did much to establish the covenanting tradition of martyrdom, it was later published accounts which inexorably linked the Restoration period with religious persecution in the popular imagination. the emergence of the Free Church of Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century prompted a plethora of sympathetic and hagiographical biographies of persecuted covenanters, which for some years remained the dominant output concerning the Restoration. Whilst contemporaneous episcopalian writers challenged such an interpretation, the unerring concentration on the ecclesiastical dimension of the Restoration period only served to confirm an entrenched view of the era as one marked solely by fanatical rebellion and state oppression.

The publication in the early twentieth century of a number of biographies of the chief political figures of the period – such as W. C. Mackenzie's partisan study of the historical reputation of John Maitland, second earl and first duke of Lauderdale, Andrew Lang's commentary on the career of Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, lord advocate, and John Willcock's life of Archibald Campbell, ninth earl of Argyll – were to be welcomed, even if they also showed signs of the religious bias that had marked so many previous studies of the Restoration era. It was not until the 1960s, coinciding with a general renaissance in Scottish historical writing, that a number of studies reconsidered the Restoration period in much less emotive terms . . .

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