May 25

This Day in History

General Interest

May 25, 1660:

The English Restoration

Under invitation by leaders of the English Commonwealth, Charles II, the exiled king of England, lands at Dover, England, to assume the throne and end 11 years of military rule.

Prince of Wales at the time of the English Civil War, Charles fled to France after Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians defeated King Charles I's Royalists in 1646. In 1649, Charles vainly attempted to save his father's life by presenting Parliament a signed blank sheet of paper, thereby granting whatever terms were required. However, Oliver Cromwell was determined to execute Charles I, and on January 30, 1649, the king was beheaded in London.

After his father's death, Charles was proclaimed king of England by the Scots and by supporters in parts of Ireland and England, and he traveled to Scotland to raise an army. In 1651, Charles invaded England but was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. Charles escaped to France and later lived in exile in Germany and then in the Spanish Netherlands. After Cromwell's death in 1658, the English republican experiment faltered. Cromwell's son Richard proved an ineffectual leader, and the public resented the strict Puritanism of England's military rulers.

In 1660, in what is known as the English Restoration, General George Monck met with Charles and arranged to restore him in exchange for a promise of amnesty and religious toleration for his former enemies. On May 25, 1660, Charles landed at Dover and four days later entered London in triumph. It was his 30th birthday, and London rejoiced at his arrival. In the first year of the Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason and his body disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn.

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