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THE RESTORATION AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 1660-1785
THE RESTORATION OF THE MONARCHY: In 1660, England was exhausted by twenty years of civil wars and revolution. Charles II turned back restored the throne. But in the plague of 1665 and the fire of 1666 destroyed London. Despite many controversies, the country struggled against the troubles and all those social issues enhanced the authors and poets for choosing the subject matters in their works. Religion and Politics : The restoration of monarchy meant the restoration of the established church. Although the ecclesiastical problems seemed to have been solved, the constitutional issues that had divided the court of Charles I and Parliament were not settled. Charles II had promised to govern through Parliament, but like other members of his family he held strong views on the power and prerogatives of the Crown. One important result of the political and religious turmoil of the decade was the emergence of two clearly defined political parties: Whig and Tory. The party of the court which supported the king in 1861 came to be called Tories; the king's opponents Whigs. The Tories: They drew their power largely from the landed gentry and the country clergy. They were the conservatives of the period. They were the strong supporters of the Crown and of the established church. They were hostile to the new moneyed interests, for they held that landed wealth is the only responsible wealth. The Whigs: They were a less homogenous group. Many powerful nobles who were jealous of the powers of the Crown; the merchants and the financiers of London; a number of bishops and Low Church clergymen. These varied groups were united by their policies of toleration and support of commerce. Trade and Industrialism Affairs: Through the century and important development was seen in industry due to trade and colonial acts. The emergence of Britain as a colonial power and the cry for a new social order based on liberty and radical reform. Great Britain was no longer an isolated island but a nation with interests and responsibilities around the world. However, there was discontent at home. The wealth brought to England by industrialism and foreign trade did not spread to the working classes. Fear of their radicalism would contribute to the British reaction against the French Revolution after 1789. In the last decades of the century, British authors would be torn between two opposing attitudes: loyalty to the old traditions of subordination and local self-sufficiency and yearning for a new dispensation on principles of liberty, the rule of reason, and human rights. Intellectual Background: The political turbulence of the 17th cc subsided gradually during the last decades of the century, and during the Restoration Period (1660-1700) literature also reflected a conflict of values. The Restoration is best known as a period dominated by a funloving, dissolute court whose style of life was reflected in "rakish comedies." But the ordinary life of the nation did not radically change. Rural manners remained conservative and old fashioned. The most important aspect of the Restoration period is the increasing challenge of various forms of secular thought to the old religious orthodoxies that had been matters of life and death since the Reformation. The new science was rapidly altering views of nature. Science in the 17th cc was concerned with the physical sciences. The discoveries in these sciences were reassuring in their evidence of universal law and order, clear proof of the wisdom and goodness of God in His creation.
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