The Foundation of Modern Wales: Wales 1642-1780

By Geraint H. Jenkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4 THE PATTERN OF POLITICS

WHEN Charles II stepped nimbly ashore at Dover on 25 May 1660 he was assured of a warm welcome from his Welsh admirers. Lady Grace Wynn of Gwydir believed that the king's arrival had delivered the land from slavery. Leading Welsh poets were beside themselves with joy: gone were the austerities and oppressions of Cromwellian times, and the colourful processions and merry clamour which accompanied Charles's return, even the extravagant life-style and fulsome promises of the restored monarch himself, seemed to presage happier times. Bonfires were lit, wine flowed freely, and grateful loyal toasts were offered to the heir of Brutus, the legendary progenitor of the British people. John Roberts, vicar of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, looked forward with almost childlike pleasure to tucking in to a piece of beef and being 'civilly merry' with old friends who had been 'civilly dead for so many years'.1 More than anything, there was a widespread yearning for peace, unity, and stability.

For the most part, royalist families were able to regain their offices and recover their former prominence and prestige in local affairs. They were joined by those who had served in Cromwellian times in order to preserve some kind of constituted authority and public order. A powerful majority of Welsh royalists and churchmen was returned to Parliament in spring 1661. Many old faces returned, weary and battle-scarred, but relieved to be rid of the yoke of republican rule. At least two-thirds of the Welsh members were men who had sat in the Long Parliament prior to the civil war. But although the monarchy, the established church, and the administration were safely and peaceably restored, things could never be the same again. In particular, civil strife and the attempts of propagators and major-generals to dragoon the populace into obedience had left a legacy of bitterness and recrimination which would colour the character of Welsh politics for the next two generations. Too many people had suffered, too many wounds refused to heal, and too many painful memories remained. As William Lloyd, bishop of St Asaph, observed, the revolutionary years had bequeathed 'an odious scent to posterity'.2

Within the minds of property-conscious gentlemen there lurked an abiding dread of further turmoil and violence which might irrevocably destroy their authority and rights. Memories of the Puritan sword died

____________________
1
Calendar of Letters relating to North Wales, p. 241.
2
NLW MS 11302D, p. 29.

-132-

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The Foundation of Modern Wales: Wales 1642-1780
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The History of Wales i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • A Note on Dating and Punctuation x
  • Contents xi
  • List of Maps xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Part I Strife and Upheaval 1642-1660 1
  • Chapter I the Civil Wars and the Interregnum 3
  • Chapter 2 Propagating the Gospel 43
  • Part II the Return to Stability 1660-1730 85
  • Chapter 3 the Social and Economic Structure 87
  • Chapter 4 the Pattern of Politics 132
  • Chapter 5 Religion, Education, and Literacy 173
  • Chapter 6 Cultural and Intellectual Life 213
  • Part III the Age of Improvement 1730-1780 255
  • Chapter 7 Social and Economic Progress 257
  • Chapter 8 Political Conflict and Change 300
  • Chapter 9 the Spirit of Enthusiasm 342
  • Chapter 10 Cultural Revival and Invention 386
  • Bibliography 427
  • Index 465
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