Charles II
Restored to Throne

1630 - 1685

Charles II became king of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1660. He had lived in exile after the execution of his father, King Charles I, in 1649. That year, the Scots proclaimed Charles king of Scotland. But the Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell defeated his army in 1651, and Charles fled to France. After Cromwell died in 1658, the English people became increasingly dissatisfied with the government that Cromwell had established. In 1660, Parliament invited Charles to return and declared him king. The important events of his reign included two wars with the Dutch, the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London, and an assassination attempt called the Rye House Plot. Charles was a member of the House of Stuart.

Charles II owed William Penn's father an unpaid debt of about $80,000. In 1680, Penn asked the king to repay the debt with wilderness land in America. On March 4, 1681, a charter was granted, giving Penn the territory west of the Delaware River between New York and Maryland. The charter also gave him almost unlimited ruling power over it. The king's council added Penn to the suggested name of Sylvania, making Pennsylvania, which means Penn's Woods. Penn drew settlers, including many Quakers, with promises of religious liberty and cheap land. Several thousand people came from England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Wales. Penn drew up a frame of government for his colony which greatly influenced later charters. It authorized an elected assembly and may even have influenced the Constitution of the United States.

In October 1682, Penn sailed up the Delaware River, and saw his colony for the first time. That same year, he made his first treaty with the Indians. His dealings with the Indians were so fair that they never attacked the colony. Penn returned to England in 1684 after the colony was well started.

See Restoration of Charles II »

Contributor: Richard L. Greaves, Ph.D., Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Prof. of History and Courtesy Prof. of Religion, Florida State Univ.


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