Knowledge as a weapon
Home » 2015 » February » 20 » Restoration
6:30 PM

a. Power Shifts from Independents to Presbyterians

1. Cromwell dies in September 1658. At this time there are three principal contenders for power. One is a group of officers around Lambert, and they represent the interests of the top brass. Second is the group of officers around Hazelrig and Morley, and they represent general republican sentiments. The third is the money bags of the City, who hold in their hands the economic life of the nation. Hume says the following: “the nation had fallen into total anarchy; and by refusing the payment of all taxes, reduced the army to the greatest necessities.”

2. At this dark hour, pregnant with a new civil war, rises the star of general George Monk. In the course of the civil war, Monk was in the camp of Charles I, but was taken prisoner in 1644. He was able to convince the Long Parliament of his loyalty to the new government, and was sent, under Cromwell, to Ireland, and then Scotland. And so he remained in command in Scotland, earning reputation of "honest George Monk" among the soldiers (compare with how Cromwell characterizes the Parliament before dismissing it). Politically, he balances between royalist and republicans, and hence wins the sympathies of the gentry and the republican parties.

General George Monk, 1661

3. As the capital was in chaos, Monk marches on capital with his 6000 men of Coldstream Guards. Hume writes: “In all counties through which Monk passed, the prime gentry flocked to him with addresses …” The soldiers of Lambert run away and eventually arrest Lambert himself.

4. Monk with his detachment occupies the city. At this time, the official power was "the Rump", the Parliament dismissed by Cromwell. The leaders of the City have announced that since among these 42 men there is not a single one who represents the City, they refuse to pay taxes. Taxes will come only with representation. On the 22nd April, 1659, the army dismisses both the parliament and the new “Lord-Protector” (Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell). Monk supports the idea of a new parliament which would exclude both royalists and "fanatics".

5. Republican-minded officers of the army were dismissed by Monk. He substitutes them with officers from the gentry. The army is broken up into small divisions, in order to forestall a new rebellion of the levelers. At the head of the fleet Monk appoints a royalist, Montague. Hume writes: “The militia of the kingdom was put into such hands as would promote order and settlement”. The new state councils consists of former Presbyterians. Characterizing the political leanings of Monk, Hume says: “While he still pretended to maintain republican principles, he was taking large steps towards the reestablishment of the ancient monarchy”.

6. New parliament put together by Monk consists of Presbyterians and royalists. This parliament invites into the country Charles II (who left the country after defeat of the Scottish army). In April 1660 Charles II puts out the Breda declaration, in which he promises to preserve the existing properties, religious tolerance and support of the Parliament. In May 1660 Charles II lands in England, where he is greeted by Monk with honors. Monk later obtained from Charles the title of “duke of Albemarle”, and thus settled his career.

Charles II in 1653

b. Social nature of Restoration regime

1. Almost everybody on today's left believes that with demise of the USSR the revolution of 1917 has been defeated. Is it so? It is useful to look at the social nature of regime after restoration of Stuarts and ask ourselves: was the English revolution defeated?

2. French ambassador in London, characterizing the regime of Charles II, writes to Louis XIV: "This government look monarchist, because there is a king, but deep inside it is far from being a monarchy". David Hume makes an interesting comparison of the monarchy of Louis XIV and the monarchy of Charles II: “the commonality (in France), being poor and dispirited, were of no account; the nobility, engaged by the prospect or possession of numerous offices, civil and military, were entirely attached to the court; the ecclesiastics, retained by like motives, added the sanction of religion to the principles of civil policy; That in England a great part of the landed property belonged either to the yeomanry or the middling gentry; the king had few offices to bestow; and could not himself even subsist, much less maintain an army, except by the voluntary supplies of his parliament”. Thus, even though the two regimes appeared to be the same on the surface, in reality these were different societies. In France, the power was concentrated in the person of the king and the feudal officials around him. In England, the power has shifted away from position in feudal hierarchy to those who controlled the moneybags, and hence the army.

3. Modern historian A.L. Morton gives the following evaluation of England: “the Restoration of 1660 was in effect a recombination of class forces to establish a government more in harmony with the real distribution of wealth. It was less a restoration of the monarchy than a new compromise between the landowners and the upper classes in the towns.” Thus, Restoration – any Restoration - is a new combination of class forces in society, with power shifting to the right. But it doesn't represent a radically new society, with a new state apparatus and a new ruling class.

4. Let's look at who makes "the political class" in the regime of Restoration. English historian John Morril, who cannot be accused of sympathies for revolution, writes: “There was to be power-sharing at every level of gov’t: in the council and in the distribution of offices at court, in the bureaucracy, in local gov’t. Old royalists, old parliamentarian moderates who had shunned the Interregnum regimes, Cromwellian loyalists, all found places”. Thus we see that the government of the Restoration regime did not consist of radically new people, as could be expected from a true counterrevolution. As an example of the later, look at the events of the Paris Commune in 1871; is it possible for any member of the Commune to enter the government of Thiers in 1871? No, they were all shot, or sent to far-away islands to an almost certain death.

The government of the Restoration regime is characterized as a compromise between parties which fought before Restoration, with right forces dominating. It is a "center-right" government. In the course of development of Restoration, and hence disintegration of this new compromise, part of the government become less right-wing, more centrist, as the threat of real, social Restoration, embodied in the other part of the government, becomes more real and pressing.

5. English historian G.M. Trevelyan, in his “Social History of England”, writes: “The princes and ministers of the court of Charles II, as well as their critics in Parliament, were in close personal contact with the city Magnates who conducted the great adventures of foreign commerce. The highest persons in the land held shares in the joint-stock companies trading in Indian, African, and American waters.” Thus, we see interpenetration between the Court and the city Magnates. As for the nature of wars, i.e. foreign policy at its extreme, G.M. Trevelyan writes: “The wars with Holland in the reign of Charles II, and with France in the reign of William and Anne were to a large extent mercantile and colonial wars, on the necessity and profit of which Court, Parliament, and City agreed”. The wars are mercantile in nature, and not dynastic, as would be the case if the England lived under feudalism.

6. It is interesting to look at property relationships in the course of Restoration. A.L. Morton writes: “The church and crown lands that had been confiscated during the Commonwealth were restored. As a set-off the landowners freed themselves from all the remaining feudal dues owed them by the crown, giving Charles as an equivalent an excise duty and thus shifting their obligations on to the rest of the nation. By this action, Marx says, they ‘vindicated for themselves the rights of modern property in estates to which they had only a feudal title’. In this respect the Restoration was rather a completion rather than a reversal of the revolution.” Charles II was restored as a dam against the Independents and the Levelers by the landowning classes, i.e. Restoration is the outcome of the struggle between the Presbyterians and the parties to the left of them. At the same time, the former Presbyterians restored to the king and the church the lands which were confiscated from them. But in exchange they obtained liberation from feudal rights formerly exercised by the king. The king was compensated financially by giving him "an excise duty". Thus, we see two opposite moments in Restoration: on the one hand, some material wealth returns back into the hands which used to own it before the Revolution, and some material wealth is secured with its "new" owners. Hence, the process of Restoration is both "revolutionary" and "counterrevolutionary". Unfortunately, modern "dialecticians" (who, it is true, have never ever read and understood Hegel) look at only one side of Restoration in the modern society, and proclaim it "counterrevolutionary". However, Restoration has a positive moment in that it undermines the power of bureaucracy.

c. Poetry, philosophy, and science in the epoch of Restoration

1. During the high tide of revolution, the most talented people find themselves in the camp of revolution. David Hume writes: “the generals of greatest fame and capacity happened, all of them, to spring up on the side of the parliament. The courtiers and great nobility, in the other party, checked the growth of any extraordinary genius among the subordinate officers; and every man there, as in regular established gov’t, was confined to the station, in which his birth had placed him.”

2. One of the greatest minds on the side of the English revolution was John Milton. He was born in London on 9 December 1608. From his early years he struggled with his relatives and teachers, attempting to devote himself fully to poetry and literature. In the period of revolution he was noticed for his extensive knowledge, as he demanded freedom of consciousness, freedom of the press and freedom to divorce. Books written by Milton were censored.

John Milton

3. During the high tide of revolution Milton was speaking vehemently against the king. E.g. in pamphlet "Iconoclast" Milton exposed the king as someone who attempted to suppress the revolution, while defenders of the king attempt to paint him as a martyr. Hence, when the epoch of Restoration came, Hume writes that it is a wonder that he remained alive at all, not that the lived in extreme poverty. Another English historian, S.R. Gardiner writes that in the dominant formalism of the Church and the perversion of the Court, there was no place for Milton in society.

4. Milton sees himself as blind and captured "Samson Agonistes", 1671:

“This day a solemn feast the people hold

To Dagon, their Sea-Idol, and forbid

Laborious works. Unwillingly this rest

Their superstition leaves me; hence with leave

Retiring from the popular noise, I seek

This unfrequented place to find some ease …”

5. Let's note that Restoration gives time to revolutionary minds to work out their theory. During the time of Restoration Milton wrote his two most famous works: "Paradise Lost" (1667) and "Paradise Regained" (1671). According to Guizot, the meaning of "Paradise lost" consists in the struggle between the forces of heaven and hell for one human soul. In the poem "Paradise Regained", heaven is achieved in struggle with earthly temptations.

6. Milton believed that in the future there will be more people devoted to obtaining knowledge for themselves than there will be smith shops to make weapons. The people will obey only the force of reasoned proof. The beauty of the House of God will consist in combination of various, but not contradictory elements, which will give it grandeur and symmetry.

7. Hume characterized Milton in the following ode of Horatio:

The man, whose mind of virtue bent,

Pursues some greatly good intent, with undiverted aim,

Serene beholds the angry crowd;

Nor can their clamours, fierce and loud,

His stubborn honour tame.

Not the proud tyrant’s fiercest threat,

Nor storms that from their dark retreat

The lawless surges wake,

Not Jove’s dread bolt that shakes the pole,

The firmer purpose of his soul

With all its power can shake.

Shou’d Nature’s frame in ruins fall,

And chaos o’er the sinking ball.

Resume primeval sway,

His courage chance and fate defies,

Nor feels the wreck of earth and skies

Obstruct the destin’d way.

8. In philosophy, the greatest mind of the time was Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679). His system of ethics was perceived by no less figure than that of David Hume as “libertine” Encyclopedia “Encarta” writes that the philosophy of Hobbes represented a departure from Scholasticism which was practiced in universities: “In 1666 the House of Commons passed a bill including Leviathan among the books to be investigated on charges of atheistic tendencies".


Bertrand Russell, in his “History of Western Philosophy”, devotes a chapter to Hobbes’ “Leviathan” (listen here). It’s interesting that Hobbes starts his essay not as political, but as theory of knowledge. He says, among other things, that life is a motion of the limbs. Hence, automata, or what we call today robots, are artificial life. This is especially true if we add modern computers to the simplest robots that we now have, for if we consider carefully, even a windshield wiper in a car is a kind of a miniature robot, as it does the job it is designed for automatically and well. A more intelligent car would have a wiper that starts working by itself, should there be a rain or a snow.

A state, says Hobbes, is also an artificial man, as it has its head, eyes, ears, limbs, and other organs.

Hobbes is a materialist, as he speaks against superstitions. In this he is one in a line of English and French philosophers who wrote at the time of the rising of bourgeoisie, the dawn of capitalist social order.

Hobbes says that intelligence is not innate, as Plato would argue (that all we need to do is remember our knowledge, become conscious of what we already know), but developed through industry.

All men are naturally equal in “a state of nature”. Hence, results, according to Hobbes, “a war of all against all” (a phrase he is famous for). But it is not clear why equality should lead to a total war. Just the opposite: equality tends towards civil peace, while inequality leads to envy, hatred, and hence class war. However, it is such a state of society which makes life “solitary, poor, nasty and brutish”. Hence, we should not have any illusions about life in Restoration England, or the period before it, i.e. the English civil war, or preceding it (remember the poetry of Sir Walter Raleigh).

Men, continues Hobbes, form a state to protect themselves against universal war.

The English civil war happened because power was divided between the king and the Parliament. Hence, it is preferable for a power to be in one place, i.e. with the king.

A sovereign may be despotic, but this is better than anarchy. Moreover, the interests of the sovereign and his subjects often coincide, especially when it comes to international relations, which are also “a war of all against all”.

Hobbes speaks against rebellions, as they set a bad example.

Liberty he defines as absence of impediments to motion. Liberty is stifled by an internal civil war within every society, and more so, as this war gains in intensity, and from internal and hidden becomes an open civil war.

Hobbes speaks for monarchy, but against Catholicism, which makes him a perfect philosopher of Restoration period. That’s why he didn’t suit the French court, which was Catholic, and had to escape to England of Cromwell.

9. One of the important composers of the Restoration regime was Henry Purcell, 1659 - 1695. He will be remembered for his "Dido's Lament", but not for the fact that he composed music for coronation of James II.

10. Under Charles II the Academy of Sciences was founded. Its most prominent members were: in physics and mathematics – Newton, in chemistry – Boyle, in biology – Hooke. Thus, theoretical ground was being prepared for the revolutions in agriculture and industry that were to follow.

Charles is presented with the first pineapple grown in England, 1675

Hume writes about the economic conditions of the times: “The first mention of tea, coffee, and chocolate is about 1660. Asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, and a variety of salads were about the same time introduced into England.”

Next     Contents

Views: 262 | Added by: gori | Tags: restoration as a part of a revoluti, Restoration in England | Rating: 0.0/0
Total comments: 0