The Exclusion Crisis, Part II

J.P. Kenyon describes how the Exclusion movement of 1679-81 revealed a widespread frustration among the Parliamentary classes, their distrust of Charles II, and their hatred of Popery. You can find the first part of this article here.

The first Exclusion Parliament met in March 1679, at a crisis in English history, when many still believed that the King’s life was threatened by a Popish Plot and many more were appalled at the prospect of the succession of the Catholic heir-presumptive, the King’s brother, James, Duke of York. This Parliament—the first new one for eighteen years—had clearly been summoned to take stock of this situation; but it had scarcely opened its legislative programme when it was prorogued, at the end of May. A bill to exclude the Duke of York from the succession had not even been put to a third reading in the Commons. Parliament was due to re-assemble on August 14th; but on July 11th it was dissolved by proclamation. The news roused a public storm, which was intensified when James returned from exile at the end of August. The elections in August and September were held in an atmosphere of frenetic excitement, and for the first time on the issue of Exclusion; the result was an overwhelming defeat for the Government, and a House of Commons more hostile and uncooperative than before. So menacing was the prospect that Charles did not meet Parliament again until October 1680.

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