On 3rd September 1658, Oliver Cromwell died. A few months previously, Cromwell had announced that he wanted his son, Richard Cromwell, to replace him as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. The English army was unhappy with this decision. While they respected Oliver as a skillful military commander, Richard was just a country farmer. In May 1659, the generals forced Richard to retire from government.
Parliament and the leaders of the army now began arguing amongst themselves about how England should be ruled. General George Monck, the officer in charge of the English army based in Scotland, decided to take action, and in 1660 he marched his army to London.
When Monck arrived he reinstated the House of Lords and the Parliament of 1640. Royalists were now in control of Parliament. Monk now contacted Charles II, who was living in Holland. Charles agreed that if he was made king he would pardon all members of the parliamentary army and would continue with the Commonwealth's policy of religious toleration. Charles also accepted that he would share power with Parliament and would not rule as an 'absolute' monarch as his father had tried to do in the 1630s.
This information was passed to Parliament and it was eventually agreed to abolish the Commonwealth and bring back the monarchy. Parliament raised nearly £1 million and with this money soldiers in the army were paid off and sent home. At the same time Charles was granted permission to form two permanent regiments for himself, the Royal Scots and the Coldstream Guards.
In August 1660, Charles II and Parliament agreed to pass the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion. This resulted in the granting of a free pardon to anyone who had supported the Commonwealth government. However, the king retained the right to punish those people who had participated in the trial and execution of Charles I. A special court was appointed and in October 1660 those Regicides who were still alive and living in Britain were brought to trial. Ten were found guilty and were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. This included Thomas Harrison, John Jones and Hugh Peters.
General George Monck became one of the king's most important ministers. Many of the men who had fought as Cavaliers against the Roundheads also became ministers and advisers. Some of these men wanted revenge against those who had killed their king. A large number of the people responsible were now dead. However, many of those who were still alive were punished. Eleven members of the House of Commons who had signed Charles I's death warrant were hanged, drawn and quartered. Royalists even dug up the body of Oliver Cromwell and displayed it at Tyburn.
Charles II and his pro-Royalist Parliament now attempted to deal with the Puritans. A new Act of Uniformity was passed that made Puritan acts of worship illegal. Those that refused to obey this law became known as non-conformists or dissenters. Large numbers of nonconformists went to prison because they were unwilling to give up their religious beliefs.
Puritans also lost their power in politics. In future Puritans would no longer be allowed to become members of the House of Commons or local counsellors. They were also excluded from universities and from teaching in schools. Strict censorship was also imposed on books. All books dealing with history, science or philosophy had to be checked by the government and the leaders of the church before they were published.
Newspapers were also put under the control of the government. Coffee-houses, where people often discussed politics, were also closed down.