THE RESTORED STUARTS
This section represents another brief period set off by clearly marked limits: the acquisition of the throne by Charles II in 1660 and the loss of it by his brother, James II, in 1689. The two reigns thus lay between two revolutions. Through reaction against the one, the Stuarts regained the crown and for a time enjoyed great prestige only to bring on the other by carrying reaction too far. During these years the fortunes of the restored dynasty turned on constitutional issues, and at least part of the dramatic story should be apparent from the following documents.
Even a hasty glance at the contents of the section cannot fail to show one of its salient features the astonishing volume of legislation completed within twenty years. Of the statutes here included, the greater part are unmistakably concerned with the work of restoration, which did not end with the recognition of the king and the resumption of monarchical customs. The power of the crown was strengthened by modifying several acts of the Long Parliament (no. 114E, H, O) and by placing restrictions on petitioning and publishing (no. 114G, m). Furthermore, parliament re-established the Anglican Church and, by a series of repressive laws, sought to enforce absolute uniformity within it and to exclude dissenters Catholic or Protestant from civil offices and other influential positions (no. 114F, J, K, P, Q, R, t). But Charles II's statutes were not wholly reactionary. Such acts as those abolishing feudal tenures, providing for post offices, extending the economic policies of the Commonwealth, improving the poor law, repealing the penalty of burning for heretics, and assuring freer recourse to the writ of habeas corpus may be properly called progressive legislation.
Among the extracts under no. 116 will be found, not merely illustrations of parliamentary procedure, but also examples of debates in the commons and statements of constitutional principle. Sometimes the latter were inspired by conflict between king and parliament; more often, in this period, by disputes between the two houses. Particular attention may be called to the lords' treatment of money bills, a question to be raised again in the twentieth century; and to the discussion of the king's fund for secret service (no. 116F), an anticipation of political controversy under George III.
The phases of English constitutional development illustrated by the other documents in this section will be clear without elaborate explanation. All the more important state trials of the Restoration period are given in brief under no. 117. Next are grouped several ordinances with regard to the colonial administration in England, together with two significant charters of Charles II. One, to Connecticut, was the first directly obtained from the crown by a community of American colonists. The other, to William Penn, is typical of the later and more detailed grants to colonial proprietors. Lastly, under no. 119, are placed a variety of typical borough records taken from Leicester because they are available in a scholarly edition and because they are well introduced by earlier extracts from the same series (no. 72C).
There is no general book dealing especially with the constitutional history of this period. In addition to what is given in well-known political histories, the student may profitably consult the notes in two collections of documents: D. O. Dykes, Source Book of Constitutional History from 1660, and C. G. Robertson, Select Statutes, Cases, and Documents. Other valuable comment will be found in the books of Dicey and Anson cited above (p. 406); W. A. Shaw's introduction to the Calendar of Treasury Books, 1660-1689; A. B. Keith, Constitutional History of the First British Empire; and the volumes on English Local Government by Sidney and Beatrice Webb.