Why did the English Population welcome the reestablishment of the Stuart monarchy in 1660?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The English people were willing to accept the return of Charles II as King because of the oppressive regime of Oliver Cromwell who ruled as Lord Protector for eleven years following the execution of Charles I. Cromwell’s Puritan ideals never left him. He never lost his rough edge and was stubbornly idealistic while easily convincing himself that he was right and therefore should not compromise. He imposed taxes without Parliamentary approval and dissolved Parliament when it disagreed with him. He insisted that people should lead "godly" lives and accordingly ordered theaters closed, forbade sports, and censored the press. When a rebellion broke out in Ireland in 1649, Cromwell put it down with merciless savagery. The result of his treatment of the Irish was a deep seated hatred by Irishmen of England and all things English, a sentiment that still exists. As a result, the Puritan republic was every bit as oppressive as the monarchy of the Stuarts. Cromwell was so unpopular that he began wearing armor under his clothes and took circuitous routes throughout London to foil any assassins who might be stalking him.

In 1657, a newly elected Parliament produced a new constitution and offered Cromwell the throne. He refused, perhaps because he believed God had spoken to him against the monarchy; but did accept the terms of the "Humble Petition and Advice" by introducing a second house of Parliament, designated the House of Lords, and by the terms of which he could name his own successor. Cromwell demonstrated his gratitude by dissolving the Parliament. He died one year later and was followed by his son, Richard Cromwell, as head of the republic. The younger Cromwell was not the man his father was and served only a short time.

The military government collapsed in 1658 when Cromwell died. The English people were fed up with military rule, and wanted a restoration of the common law and social stability. They were ready to restore the monarchy and would not soon re-experiment with a republic. The heir presumptive, Charles II, son of Charles I, was living in exile in Holland. However, his return was only accomplished by military force when General George Monck, a former royalist officer with troops still loyal to him, marched on London and dissolved Parliament. Charles issued a conciliatory proclamation, and Parliament invited him to assume the throne. He was crowned Charles II on April 23, 1661, eleven years after the execution of his father.

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