Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Preparations for War

The ‘Stop of the Exchequer’
In the traité simulé Charles and Arlington provisionally planned the war with the Netherlands for the spring of 1672. By the beginning of the year it was clear that royal finances were insufficient to wage a major war. On 20 January 1672, Charles proclaimed the ‘Stop of the Exchequer’ – a suspension of the repayment of all previous loans. In effect, the Crown declared itself bankrupt. In the long term this was to make financiers reluctant to lend money to the Crown, but in the short term it released about £1.2 million for the war.
Query: would anyone lend money to the Crown after this?

Declaration of Indulgence
All this took place against a background of increasing parliamentary concern over Charles’s religious policies. In March 1672 he issued his second Declaration of Indulgence which suspended all penal laws, allowed Roman Catholics to worship in their own homes, and offered licenses to Protestant dissenters to hold public worship. He invoked what he claimed to be his ‘supreme power in ecclesiastical matters. Parliament disagreed. They believed that only 'the King in Parliament' had this power.

Charles was again gambling on a Catholic/dissenter alliance to free him from his dependence on Anglicanism. But this policy was never going to succeed, because the two groups remained deeply suspicious of each other, and the main result of the Declaration was to make Protestants close ranks. Andrew Marvell complained that religious tyranny was being restrained only by ‘a Piece of absolute universal Tyranny’ (quoted Jonathan Scott, England's Troubles (Cambridge, 2000), 429.