29 May 1660: Charles II restored to the throne

While Charles II was formally proclaimed King by parliament in April, he only reached London on this day in 1660.

The debts continued to mount during Charles II's reign

During the 1640s, England and Wales were plunged into a bitter civil war, ending in 1649 with the execution of King Charles Iandthe establishment of a Commonwealth. However, the rule of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell (paid the equivalent of £1.5m a year), proved unpopular.

After he died in 1658, his son Richard briefly took over, but was forced to resign a year later.The stage was set for the restoration of the monarchy and the return of the late king's oldest son.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Charles II was formally proclaimed King by parliament in April 1660 (and had considered himself monarch from 1649 onwards), but he only reached London on 29 May. In return for the end of feudal dues, parliament nominally agreed to give the crown £1.2m (£150m in today's money) a year.

However, the cost of various wars (including several against the Dutch) pushed spending well above that amount, while the projected revenues from customs and excise duties never appeared.

This led to soaring borrowing, and a clash between the King and parliament over control of taxation. Indeed, the English government was so cash-strapped that Charles II ended up selling Dunkirk to the French for £375,000 (£46.6m) in 1662. He also leased Bombay to the East India company for £10 a year from 1668, to save money on the costs of defending the region.

Even so, the government was forced to suspend debt payments several times, starting in 1672. Debt accumulated during Charles II's reign (which ended on his death in 1685), along with the fiscal impact of the Dutch invasion of 1688/1689, would later result in the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694.




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019

Are we back on the road to serfdom?

The coronavirus crisis has led to levels of state intervention unprecedented in peace time. The Austrian School reminds us of the challenges, say Dan …
11 Jun 2020

MoneyWeek's quiz of the week, 16-22 May

Test your recollection of the events of the last seven days with MoneyWeek's quiz of the week
22 May 2020
UK Economy

What are negative interest rates and could they happen here?

Negative interest rates – where banks pay you to borrow money – now exist in many parts of the world. John Stepek explains why they are a terrible ide…
18 May 2020

Most Popular


House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020

The end of the bond bull market and the return of inflation

Central bank stimulus, surging post-lockdown demand and the end of the 40-year bond bull market. It all points to inflation, says John Stepek. Here’s …
30 Jun 2020

How can markets hit new record highs when the economy is in such a mess?

Despite the world being in the midst of a global pandemic, America's Nasdaq stock index just hit an all-time high. And it's not the only index on a bu…
3 Jul 2020