World history has seen many upheavals and sudden trysts, and the Restoration certainly qualifies as one of them. If it were to be explained in a single line, the Restoration was the period in British history when monarchy was brought back into prominence through a series of events.
What Was It
Execution of King Charles I
King Charles I was executed in the January of 1649. He was the supreme King of Britain, with suzerainty over England, Scotland, and Ireland. However, he earned a lot of disrespect from the Parliament for his preposterous theory known as Divine Rights of Kings.
The Parliament feared he was turning into an absolute monarch and would eventually sideline the democracy that was so carefully established in Britain. In his final years, he was engaged in Civil Wars. The First English Civil War (1642) was against the Parliament and the Puritans of England. He was defeated in this War in 1645, but continued his ideologies.
In 1948, there was a Second Civil War, and he was defeated again in 1649. This time, he was captured, tried, convicted, and finally executed for treason. The Parliament took over, formed a republic that came to be known as the Commonwealth of England. Monarchy, apparently, came to an end.
Restoration of Monarchy by Charles II
What seemed to be an end for monarchy actually turned out to be only a pause. 11 years later, in 1660, Charles I's son, Charles II assumed the throne once again. The resurgence of monarchy was brought about by a series of historically significant incidents.
One of the main leaders of the republican government formed after Charles I was Oliver Cromwell, who was by title the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was also the commander of the armies that fought against Charles I in the English Civil Wars.
Oliver Cromwell or Old Ironsides, as he was referred to, valiantly brought England, Scotland, and Ireland under a unanimous republican rule after the execution of Charles I, and he was in fact one of the main persons responsible for his execution.
Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 of a host of ailments. Historians attribute his death to malaria and urinary infection, but there could have been several other reasons. Cromwell was succeeded by his son Richard as the Lord Protectorate. However, Richard was not popular with the Army. The Army was prompt in removing him.
Several other transfers of power later, Charles II issued what is known as the Declaration of Breda on April 4, 1660. This declaration was to lay down the fact that he was interested in accepting the Crown of England. Taking into consideration the various failed attempts to seize power in England, the Parliament accepted the terms.
On 8 May, 1649, the Parliament accepted that Charles II had been the lawful monarch of England after the death of Charles I. Charles II returned from The Hague, where he was exiling, and assumed the throne of the king of England. This is what is known as the English Restoration.
The coming of Charles II into England as the monarch was celebrated as the Oak Apple Day, and was declared a public holiday. But the reinstated monarchy under Charles II wanted to eliminate any future threats. For this reason, several bloody incidents followed the Restoration.
Most notable were the executions of all the judges who were responsible for the execution of Charles I. 59 judges had passed the order, but 28 of them had passed away in the interim. Most of the remaining judges were tried for high treason against the Crown and were ordered to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
The people who were punished thus were hung for a brief time on a wooden frame with a noose, brought down when they were still alive, then cut open and disemboweled and their entrails set on fire in front of them, and finally beheaded and cut into four pieces.
People who were punished in this manner included John Cooke, the leader of the prosecution. The body of Cromwell who had died earlier was exhumed and executed. His head was exhibited after the execution and it was finally buried only in 1960.
Several of the nobilities and knighthoods that Cromwell had provided were disbanded. 30 new knights that Cromwell made were all declared invalid by Charles II. But he accepted 6 of the 12 baronetcies and one viscountcy that Cromwell had awarded.
An event as drastic as the English Restoration cannot be without its effects on society. The most significant event was the emergence of a form of satirical theater known as the Restoration Comedy. These sexually explicit comedies poked fun at the various social issues of the times. Women were allowed to act for the first time in Restoration Comedy theater.
There were also far-reaching effects on literature, and a new stream of writing known as Restoration Literature was born. Even classics such as John Milton's Paradise Lost and the Earl of Rochester's Sodom were written during this era.
Every monarchical period in England influenced its own architectural style. The Restoration period also achieved that merit. A lot of architectural changes happened all over England during this period and that led to Restoration Style of architecture. Some people refer to this as the Carolean Style, as Charles is called Carolus in Latin.
The End of it all
There are several opinions on when the Restoration actually ended. Some people term only the event of returning of Charles II as the Restoration, while others maintain that his entire regime was the Restoration. Others believe the Restoration applies to the period from Charles II's ascension in 1660 to the fall of James II in 1688.
In the world of literature, there's a different point of view about the English Restoration. They hold the Restoration analogous with the age of John Dryden, the famous English poet, critic and dramatist, and claim that the Restoration went on from 1660 up till the death of Dryden in 1700.