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350th Anniversary of the Restoration Special

The English Revolution was as brutal, divisive and - in its way - as politically significant as its counterparts in France and Russia.

But somehow the nation more or less came together again in the spring of 1660 in support of one route out of the chaos that followed Oliver Cromwell's death in 1658 - monarchy. And this Random Edition examines, with the help of the Parliamentary Intelligencer 'newsbook' for April 30th to May 7th 1660, just how Charles II came to be accepted back as king, eleven years after his father had been beheaded.

The Intelligencer describes in graphic detail the arrival before both Houses of Parliament of Sir John Grenville, a messenger from Charles, who is currently in the Dutch town of Breda. Grenville carries the king's 'Declaration of Breda' containing the various guarantees that will prove to make his restoration possible.

Using other extracts from the Intelligencer, Peter Snow, examines some of Charles's guarantees - that all in the army will be paid arrears owing to them; that a general pardon will be offered to (almost) all those who worked against the monarchy in the preceding years; and that freedom of religion will be respected.

Just how far were these guarantees fulfilled?

Peter Snow is joined by Restoration historian Ronald Hutton for a tour of various sites in Westminster that help bring alive the Intelligencer's stories.

Also in the programme, Andrew Green travels to Breda to learn about Charles II's years of exile. Trevor Barnes fills out the Intelligencer's story of how militant Republican resistance has been snuffed out. And historian Jenny Uglow stands on the beach at Deal in Kent to imagine the great fleet preparing to cross the North Sea to bring Charles home from The Netherlands.

All this....and the newspaper's ads.

Programme contributors include historians Pene Corfield, Jenny Uglow, Jason Peacey, Ronald Hutton, Mark Goldie, John Morrill and David Farr.

Sites visited include undercroft of Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Margaret's Westminster, and Banqueting House in Whitehall.

This is an Andrew Green production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Fri 7 May 2010 11:00