This article is from the April issue of Total Politics

After the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 and the political chaos that followed, the Declaration of Breda was issued by Charles II from his exile in Holland in April 1660. It set out his initial terms for the restoration of the monarchy. The declaration was a skilful political document, conciliatory but vague. It offered a general pardon and an amnesty for all offences committed during the Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, with the exception of those committed by the regicides (those who had approved the execution of his father, Charles I, in 1649).

The declaration proposed that the terms of the Restoration settlement should be discussed by a freely-elected parliament with Charles favouring liberty of conscience in religion and an equitable settlement of land disputes. This declaration, with a wafer seal and Charles’ signature at the top, is the copy sent to the House of Lords; further copies went to the House of Commons, the Army, the Fleet and the City. Both Houses of Parliament unanimously voted for the Restoration.

The document is dated “in the Twelfth Year of Our Reign” because Charles II counted his regnal years from the death of Charles I as if there had been no break.

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Tags: History of one object, Issue 34