Lecture 18: Commonwealth & Restoration

Lecture 18: Commonwealth & Restoration
In 1640s, the Puritans (Roundheads) and Cavaliers (King’s followers) went to war against each other.
Victory of the Roundheads meant the execution of King Charles I in 1649.
The period that followed is called the Commonwealth led by Oliver Cromwell, then his son.
In 1660, monarchy was restored; Charles II was restored from France: Restoration.
Although monarchy was restored, most of the power was held by parliament.
James II becomes king who converted to Catholicism; his reign ended with the bloodless revolution of 1688.

features of the age

Main concern of the time was to avoid another revolution.
Reason was the spirit of the restoration.
Middle classes had more influence, their wealth grew, and they wanted stability above all.
A time of commercial growth and scientific advances
A time of war in the rest of Europe
Union of Parliaments of England & Scotland
Protestant victory in Ireland, though population was still largely Catholic.
So, Ireland remained a problem to the United Kingdom!

Marvell’s “Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland”
So restless Cromwell could not cease
In the inglorious arts of peace,
But through adventurous war
Urgèd his active star:…
What field of all the civil war
Where his were not the deepest scar?

Lovelace “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”
Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind, ?
         That from the nunnery ?
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind ?
         To war and arms I fly. ?

True, a new mistress now I chase, ?
         The first foe in the field; ?
And with a stronger faith embrace ?
         A sword, a horse, a shield. ?
Yet this inconstancy is such ?
         As you too shall adore; ?
I could not love thee (Dear) so much, ?
         Lov’d I not Honour more.

Lovelace “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”
Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind, ?
         That from the nunnery ?
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind ?
         To war and arms I fly. ?

Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden”
Fair Quiet, have I found thee here, 
And Innocence, thy sister dear! 
Mistaken long, I sought you then 
In busy companies of men; …?Society is all but rude, 
To this delicious solitude. 

Poetry and Politics: ?
Political side of literature became very important during the Commonwealth.
Lovelace (Cavalier) contrasts personal and public life in ‘To Lucasta, Going to the War’s as he writes about having to leave his loved one and go to war.
Andrew Marvell’s ‘poem celebrates Cromwell as the nation’s hero.
Strength and strong government are central themes and majors concerns of the nation.
Marvell became the unofficial poet laureate to Cromwell and wrote several poems during Commonwealth.
Marvell also contrasted politics and city life vs quiet life in the country, praising the latter and sometimes sounding as if he found politics corrupt (unlike the innocence of nature & country life).
Restoration gave more importance to stable values and less for the search for new values & exploration of new worlds (i.e. Renaissance)