Catholic influence at Court


The CABAL 1667

  • After the Restoration, there were signs of a renewed concern with the threat of Catholic influence. 
  • In 1666 the Great Fire of London sparked rumours of Catholic agents at work, and the plague led Charles to allow Parliament to blame his chief adviser Clarendon, who was replaced by the CABAL.
  • Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley and Lauderdale. Clifford and Arlington were Catholics. Others were crypto-catholics.
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The impact of James's conversion

  • 1668, James Duke of York converted to Catholicism, which became public knowledge in 1669.
  • He refused to take Anglican communion and resigned the office of Lord Admiral.
  • There was the prospect of a Catholic heir, and the Whigs would later attempt to exclude him.
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Conflicts with Parliament over Catholicism

The Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 explicitly permitted Catholics to worship in private. This produced hostile reactions in Parliament for two reasons:

  • The Catholic sympathies of Charles and his brother had become increasingly apparent.
  • Apart from the religious issue, Parliament was just as concerned with Charles's apparent willingness to dispense with the law. This action echoed that of continental Catholic monarchs.

After 1672, fear of both Catholicism and absolutism increased markedly, as Charles was seen to be attempting to emulate Louis XIV in what was now an unapologetic way. 

James's daughter Mary was married to a Protestant, William of Orange, from 1677, and James married the Catholic Mary of Modena. Charles had no legitimate children, so it was likely that James would succeed his brother.

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Charles II and continental Catholicism

In 1667, Louis XIV invaded the Spanish Netherlands and attacked the Dutch. This fed an awareness in England that Catholic France was the biggest threat the country faced.

Outwardly English diplomat negotiated a Triple Alliance with Protestant Sweden and the United Provinces, but at the same time, Charles was making early arrangements for the Treaty of Dover through his sister Henrietta, who was married to the French King's brother. Charles favoured this pro-French policy for a number of reasons.

  • His mother was French and he had spent time at the French court during his exile.
  • His sister Henrietta, who married into the French royal family, was his favourite sibling.
  • He looked to France as an example to follow in the fields of art, culture and philosophy.
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Relations with Louis XIV

  • They were cousins.
  • Treaty of Dover in 1670, 1675, 1677.
  • Louis gave Charles a secret pension that allowed him to rule without Parliament 1681-85.
  • Charles converted to Catholicism on his deathbed. 
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