The persecution of dissenters under Charles II and James II

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  • Created on: 16-04-20 19:49
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  • Persecution of dissenters under Charles II and James II
    • Religious persecution under Charles II
      • He took strong action against dissent with the Conventicle Act and the 5 Mile Act.
        • Under the Conventicle Act (1664), religious meetings of 5 or more people outside the CoE were forbidden.
          • The initial punishment of a fine could, after the 3rd occasion, result in transportation
        • The 5 Mile Act (1665) meant that any preacher/ teacher who refused the compulsory oaths of loyalty to the CoE (required by the Act of Uniformity) could not go within 5 miles of any corporate town or parish where they had taught.
        • In 1670 a second Conventicle Act passed , more oppresive than the first.
          • Further limited meetings of religious gatherings not related to the CoE.
        • Charles even removed some Justices of the Peace who were judged too lenient in acting against conventicles.
      • Role of the political elite in religious persecution
        • Charles II always intended to create a more expensive church.
          • He didn't try get the Conventicle Act renewed and it expired in 1668, allowing non-conformists to meet freely.
        • Generally, dissent was stronger in urban areas.
          • This is where there was more likely to be a ruling elite with either shared religious ideas or some sympathy for non-conformists.
        • For others, non-conformity was a link to the Cromwellian period, where the New Model Army protected non-conformists from persecution.
          • The majority of the country gentry were against this greater freedom for dissenters.
      • Quakers
        • The Quaker Act (1662) required Quakers to take an oath of allegiance to the king.
          • Their faith prevented them from doing so.
            • Thus, they were subjected to increasingly intense persecution
              • Many Quakers were imprisoned, with over 400 dying during their confinement.
      • Persecution of dissent under Charles II was harsh and got harsher as his rule went on.
        • His approach towards dissenters changed depending on how much they threatened religious order.
    • Religious persecution under James II
      • He was a strong supporter of religious toleration.
        • Had promoted religious freedom in the American colonies.
          • Helped his friend, the prominent Quaker William Penn, to establish the Quaker colony of Pensylvania.
      • He promoted toleration with the Declaration of Indulgence (1687).
        • Freed Catholics and Protestant non-conformists from their religious restrictions.
        • Many Anglicans saw the declaration as a threat to the position of the CoE.
          • Thus, they didn't carry out it's terms.
      • A second Declaration was issued in 1688, and James ordered it to be read in all churches.
        • However, many dissenters didn't trust James, believing that his real intention was to favour Catholics.
      • The Declarations of Indulgence were to be one of the causes of the Glorious Revolution.


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