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  Edward Hyde (1609–1674), after Adriaen Hanneman, c.1648–55 Edward Hyde (1609–1674), after Adriaen Hanneman, c.1648–55
Hyde, Edward, first earl of Clarendon (1609–1674), politician and historian, was born on 18 February 1609 at Dinton, Wiltshire, and baptized there on 22 February, the sixth of the nine children of Henry Hyde (c.1563–1634), gentleman, and his wife, Mary (bap. 1578, d. 1661), daughter of Edward Langford of Trowbridge. The Hyde family in Wiltshire owed its rise into the higher ranks of the gentry to the practice of the law, and Hyde's father and two of his uncles attended the Middle Temple. The uncles went on to become prominent practitioners but Henry Hyde abandoned the law on his marriage to a local heiress and retired to the country, living a life marked, according to his son, by quiet piety, wide reading, and good, though temperate, fellowship.

Legal career, marriage, and intellectual circles

Edward, Henry's third but second surviving son, was originally intended for a clerical career. A place was sought for him at his father's college, Magdalen, Oxford, and probably through the influence of his uncles the king's recommendation was obtained for a demyship there; the fellowship successfully ignored it, leaving him to find a place at the socially less desirable Magdalen Hall, where he matriculated in 1623. The early death of his elder brother caused the abandonment of the plan to go into the church. Edward completed his Oxford degree, and in Michaelmas term 1626 he embarked on a legal training at the Middle Temple, although a serious illness late in the year delayed its beginning in earnest. Not that he was as yet deeply committed to it: his memoir confesses to an interest in soldiery generated by the preparations in 1627 for the expedition to the Île de Ré, as well as an exposure to ‘signal debauchery’. His continuance at the law may have owed much to the encouragement of his younger uncle, , lord chief justice of king's bench. A second illness—smallpox—struck Edward in July 1628; on his recovery he seems to have become more set on his legal career. He made the acquaintance of John Selden, the most significant legal mind of the day, and of Selden's intellectual heir, John Vaughan, and spent much time with other pious and studious Middle Templars—Bulstrode Whitelocke, Geoffrey Palmer, and Harbottle Grimston. Yet even though, as the lord chief justice told his father in November 1629, he ‘studieth hard and is very orderly and frugal’ (G. Davies, ‘The date of Clarendon's first marriage’, EngHR, 32, 1917, 407), preparation for legal practice still occupied only a part of Hyde's mind. His interests in ‘polite learning and history’, particularly Roman history (Life, 1.8–9), helped him to become involved in the circles of London intellectuals more or less closely attached to the inns of court, especially those around Ben Jonson.

The death of Hyde's principal patron, the lord chief justice, in August 1631 left him with considerably reduced prospects of a successful legal practice. But he found a replacement for his uncle's influence in his marriage, on 4 February 1632, to Anne (d. 1632), daughter of Sir George Ayliffe of Grittenham, Wiltshire. The marriage was one of strong mutual affection, although the bride's mother, Anna, was a child of John St John, of Lydiard Tregoze in the same county, and brought Hyde a train of connections not only with Wiltshire gentry, but also with the Villiers family: another of the St John daughters had married Sir Edward Villiers, the half-brother of the duke of Buckingham. Hyde appears to have celebrated the connection with his essay countering an argument of Sir Henry Wotton about the similar trajectories of the careers of the earls of Essex and Buckingham, a piece which brought him to the favourable notice of the king. The association was more immediately valuable in providing a group of wealthy and prominent potential clients. All this was jeopardized by Anne's death in July. Hyde's grief—as with subsequent bereavements—was profound: an intention to go abroad ‘to enjoy his own melancholy’ was only prevented by what appears to have been his father's opposition (Life, 1.12). His relationship with the St John and Villiers families survived, though, and assisted him to make some impact at court through managing the Villiers interest in 1633 in the delicate matter of the affair of the daughter of Sir Edward Villiers, Eleanor, with Henry Jermyn, the queen's secretary. The affair:
accidentally introduced him into another way of conversation than he had formerly been accustomed to, and which in truth by the acquaintance, by the friends and enemies he then made, had an influence upon the whole course of his life afterwards. (Life, 1.13)
Jermyn himself was probably the enemy he meant.

Hyde was called to the bar on 22 November 1633. Already relatively well known in court circles as well as in legal ones, he was selected along with Bulstrode Whitelocke to represent the Middle Temple on a committee established by the inns of court to prepare a masque in response to the assault on court culture made by William Prynne in his Histrio-Mastix. The Triumph of Peace was performed on 3 February 1634. Bringing together Hyde's literary, legal, and court concerns, his involvement attracted valuable attention. Whitelocke reported the great condescension shown him and Hyde by the lord chamberlain, the earl of Pembroke, and both men were among those who attended the king and queen concerning the performance. Hyde, oddly, failed to mention it in his own Life, perhaps because it seemed to contradict his account of the increasingly serious tenor of his activity after 1630.

By the time he had become utter-barrister Hyde had probably known Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, for about three years. Their friendship, commemorated famously by Hyde in the History and in the Life, is likely to have arisen in the circle of Ben Jonson. It may have begun about 1630, after Cary's retirement to the estate of his maternal grandfather at Great Tew. The open personality and intellectual sophistication of Cary (who became Viscount Falkland on the death of his father in 1633) profoundly affected Hyde, as they did others; but Falkland's practice of keeping open house for a combination of London intellectuals and Oxford divines made for an extraordinarily stimulating atmosphere which suited Hyde enormously—‘one continued convivium philosophicum, or convivium theologicum, enlivened and refreshed with all the facetiousness of wit, and good humour, and pleasantness of discourse’ (Life, 1.39). Among the regulars, apart from Hyde himself, were William Chillingworth, John Hales, Gilbert Sheldon, and George Morley; although there were also many visitors who were more concerned with secular and polite learning, the presence of these divines and Falkland's own interests ensured that the convivium concerned itself more with the relationship between the Roman and protestant churches than with anything else. Spurred by Falkland's reading in Plato, it also became much engaged with the place of authority and reason in religion. The atmosphere was pietistic but rationalist, and strongly influenced by the Roman, stoical moralism of Jonson. Richard Hooker, too, was a powerful influence on those who frequented Falkland's house, and especially on Hyde, who folded Hooker's defence of religious ceremony and the foundation of the church in human law into his own thought.

Hyde's second marriage, on 10 July 1634, was to Frances (d. 1667), daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, the master of the mint and a master of requests. It may have been—like his first—an astute professional move, yet it seems, also like his first, to have been founded on genuine affection. Children were born in 1637, 1638, and 1640. The death of Hyde's father in Salisbury in September 1634 marked out the year as a clear break with the past. Hyde ‘grew every day more intent on business and more engaged in practice, so that he could not assign so much time as he had used to do to his beloved conversation’ (Life, 1.56). What little evidence of his practice that there is suggests one typically dependent on fees from friends and relatives—St Johns and Mompessons—but Hyde made much of the advantages that came his way: after a meeting with Archbishop Laud in 1635 or 1636 concerning a petition he had drawn up for clients, Laud ‘desired his service in many occasions, and particularly in the raising monies for the building of St Paul's Church’ (ibid., 1.25). Hyde's association with Laud flourished, and he became close enough to the archbishop to attempt to mediate in his long-standing disputes with the earls of Hertford and Essex.

The Short and Long parliaments

Although involved with the court and government ministers in the late 1630s, Hyde claimed to have kept his distance, and ‘as he had those many friends in court, so he was not less acceptable to many great persons in the country, who least regarded the court, and were least esteemed by it’ (Life, 1.57). In his History he recalled a period of unusual prosperity and peace: ‘this kingdom, and all his majesty's dominions, … enjoyed the greatest calm and the fullest measure of felicity that any people in any age for so long time together have been blessed with’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.93). Hyde may have supported Laud's political or religious projects in the late 1630s, although certainly by the late 1640s he had recognized their political inexpediency. What did trouble him in the late years of the personal rule was what he saw as attempts by the government to abuse the law for political purposes, and the connivance of the judges at the abuse. For him, as for many other common lawyers, the judicial decision (especially that of Lord Finch) in the ship-money case was of particularly worrying significance. Ship money was tolerable when demanded as a response to an emergency; but when claimed as a prerogative right of the crown, and when it was:
by sworn judges of the law adjudged so, upon such grounds and reasons as every stander-by was able to swear was not law … and by a logic that left no man any thing which he might call his own (ibid., 1.87)
it became in effect the abnegation of law. For Hyde the ship-money judgment and its aftermath demonstrated the centrality of law and the certainty of legal rules and process to the achievement of political stability, an insight which would be fundamental to his approach not just to the crisis of 1640–42 but throughout his career.

Looking back on it from the other side of the civil war, Hyde regarded the Short Parliament of April–May 1640 as a tragically wasted opportunity for undoing the damage caused by the policies of the end of the personal rule. He owed his election at Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire to the St John family. Appointments to committees suggest his associations with prominent critics of the regime such as Robert Holborne and Oliver St John (John Hampden's counsel in the ship-money case), Sir Walter Earle, and John Pym, and Hyde made something of a speciality out of cataloguing the abuses of the prerogative courts: his first speech, condemning proceedings in the earl marshal's court, was widely reported. Hyde's co-operation with the government's critics, though, was tempered by a commitment to the search for an accommodation with the court. He visited Laud in the hope of preventing a dissolution; and he distanced himself from the beginnings of the parliamentary assault on the Laudian regime in the church, defending Laudian altar policy at a conference with the Lords at the end of April. In the long debate on supply on 2–4 May Hyde supported the government's offer to abandon ship money in exchange for twelve subsidies. In hindsight, he saw the dissolution which followed its failure as having been part of the scheme designed by Pym and others: St John, he wrote, had assured him that ‘all was well: and that it must be worse before it could be better; and that this Parliament would never have done what was necessary to be done’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.183).

At the summons of the second parliament of 1640 Hyde found a seat at Saltash in Cornwall. His failure to be elected in Wiltshire may indicate the truth of his claim that some efforts were made to prevent or overturn his election because he was regarded ‘as a man they knew well to have great affection for the archbishop, and of unalterable devotion to the government of the Church’ (Life, 1.70). Once securely there, however, he was wooed by the principal opponents of the regime, and continued his attacks on the prerogative courts and the judiciary. He chaired committees on the earl marshal's and the two regional courts; and—with Falkland and Sir John Colepeper, as well as with his Middle Temple associates Palmer and Whitelocke—he took a leading role in the inquisition of the judges and their judgments in the ship-money case. Yet Hyde's collaboration with the parliamentary leadership was strained by the attempt by the Scots and their city allies to push forward the abolition of episcopacy. In a debate on 10 March 1641 Hyde opposed a demand for the removal of the right of the bishops to sit and vote in the House of Lords—something which, he said, was ‘changing the whole frame and constitution of the kingdom, and of the Parliament itself’—only to be taken aback by the willingness of Falkland and Colepeper to accept it in the hope that it would satisfy anti-episcopal sentiment (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.311). Despite his worries about the aims of the parliamentary leadership, his failure—along with Falkland, Colepeper, and Palmer—to oppose the impeachment or the attainder of the earl of Strafford testifies to a still lively impression of the excess of power, injustice, and oppression of government in the 1630s.

The Lords' rejection of the bill for exclusion of the bishops and the introduction in May of the root and branch bill for the abolition of episcopacy raised the political stakes. Hyde, chairman of the committee of the whole house considering the bill, delayed progress on it well into the summer while he worked elsewhere to hasten the disbandment of the Scottish and English armies. The acts which received royal assent shortly before the king left for Scotland in August included reforms of royal prerogative jurisdiction which Hyde regarded as a sufficient, perhaps even over-generous, response by the king to the abuses of the 1630s. By about the summer of 1641 he, Falkland, and Colepeper had become the nucleus of a group working informally to secure a full settlement of the political crisis. During the autumn their energies and those of what the diarist Simonds D'Ewes now referred to as the ‘episcopal party’ (Journal, ed. Coates, 150) were channelled into resisting increasingly strident demands for religious and political reform. In November, Hyde's demand to enter a protestation in the journal against the grand remonstrance, seconded by Palmer, helped to provoke serious disorder in the house which came close to violence.

In an attempt to build on moderate conservative support the king appointed Colepeper and Falkland as respectively chancellor of the exchequer and secretary of state on 1 January 1642; Hyde refused the post of solicitor-general on the grounds that it would cause unnecessary offence to the current incumbent, St John, but he agreed to continue to co-operate with Colepeper and Falkland in the Commons, and to allow his draft of a pamphlet against the remonstrance to be adopted—as His Majestie's Declaration, to All His Loving Subjects—as an official response to it. The Declaration's themes—a powerful commitment to the Church of England tempered by an offer not to enforce ceremony where it involved matters indifferent, and an insistence on the king's determination to stand by the law—established themselves as the constant themes of Hyde's, and much other royalist, polemic.

Three days after the new appointments Charles disastrously attempted to arrest Pym, Hampden, Holles, Strode, Mandeville, and Hesilrige in the House of Commons—an action which Hyde attributed, in part at least, to one of his friends and allies among the defenders of episcopacy, Lord Digby. Hyde, Colepeper, and Falkland were caught ‘between grief and anger that the violent party had by these late unskilful actions of the Court gotten great advantage and recovered new spirits’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.487). The three may have offered to resign, but warily accepting the king's renewed assurances that he would make no step in parliament without their advice, they agreed to continue to co-ordinate the government's activities in the house. But the court had largely lost any prospect of influencing proceedings in the Commons, and at the beginning of February, under the pressure of popular disturbances in London, serious opposition to parliamentary control of the militia collapsed in the Lords. The king made a string of concessions including giving his assent to the bill for the exclusion of the bishops from the Lords. Its acceptance split the triumvirate. Colepeper, and possibly Falkland, advised it. For Hyde, it destroyed any confidence that the king would resist unacceptable compromise. Many, he wrote:
never after retained any confidence that he would deny what was importunately asked; and so, either absolutely withdrew themselves from those consultations, thereby avoiding the envy and the danger of opposing them, or quietly suffered themselves to be carried by the stream, and consent to any thing that was boldly and lustily attempted. (ibid., 568)
Even so Hyde believed that the king accepted it only in order to secure the queen's safe passage to France. Having seen her off at Dover on 23 February and, with some assistance from Hyde himself, secured custody of his eldest son, the king planned to leave London. In a series of interviews with the king over the weekend of 25–27 February Hyde agreed to remain at Westminster, and to take on the draftsmanship of statements of royal policy. The first of a long series of royal declarations drafted by Hyde was issued by the king from Huntingdon on 15 March, as a response to the militia ordinance. It, and its successors, rehearsed the themes of the earlier declaration: the king's determination to adhere to the law, and parliament's failure to do the same.

Hyde's position in London was risky, particularly after the king's failure to gain admission to Hull; he was widely suspected of having a role in the composition of royal propaganda. He remained long enough to participate in the rapid exchange of votes and declarations following the events before Hull, and to assist in the delicate task of ensuring the removal of the lord keeper, Lord Littleton, with the great seal, to the king. He probably left very soon after the agreement by both houses in their declaration of 19 May. On his way to York to join the king he composed answers to it, and to a further declaration of 26 May.

The two answers were possibly Hyde's most sustained and most accomplished pieces of polemic. In them he developed his analysis of the arbitrary nature of parliamentary rule much further than before, underlining the threat it posed to the security of property. ‘If the major part of both Houses declare that the law is, That the younger brother shall inherit, what is become of all the families and estates in the kingdom?’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 2.145). The parliamentary leadership was a:
faction of malignant, schismatical, and ambitious persons; whose design was, and always had been, to alter the whole frame of government, both of Church and State, and to subject both King and people to their own lawless, arbitrary power and government. (ibid., 2.149)
In a particularly influential passage Hyde summed up in seven points what he claimed were the parliamentary doctrines, among them, ‘That no precedents can be limits to bound their proceedings. So they may do what they please’; and that ‘they may depose his majesty when they will, and are not to be blamed for so doing’ (ibid., 2.163–4). As a result he found himself on the parliamentary blacklist as one of the ‘authors of a civil war’ (ibid., 2.240). Hyde's own view of royalist strategy was that the king should take no further aggressive steps which would—like the attempted arrest of the five members—only help to draw the uneasy coalition of different interests at Westminster closer together. He, though, was still marginal to royal counsels, and was not the only publicist used by the king, for an answer to parliament's nineteen propositions was drafted not by him, but by his associates Falkland and Colepeper. Its acceptance that the king was one of the three estates not only ousted the bishops from their status as an indispensable part of the constitution—on which Hyde and they had previously differed—but also reduced the king from a position of lofty superiority to that of a participant in a political struggle.

Hyde arrived in York about 4 or 5 June 1642. Unlike Colepeper and Falkland he was not a councillor, and was not involved in the official decision-making machinery of the court. But the king valued his advice, and employed him in several projects aimed at attracting support. By now his views were hardening. He reported it as the ‘general, received doctrine’ at court in July and August that parliament would not take the argument so far as fighting; but that even if it did, the first of the parties which made preparations for civil war would find its support ebbing away. Hyde indicated some impatience with this view and the idea ‘that the softest and gentlest remedies might be most wholesomely applied to these rough and violent diseases’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 2.250, 288).

The civil war

Hyde went with the king to Nottingham, where he witnessed the ‘melancholic’ scene of the raising of the standard, and accompanied him as he trawled through Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire looking for troops. He was present at Edgehill, though not as a combatant—he was given the role of looking after the two princes. In Oxford during the autumn and winter Hyde was effectively acting as under-secretary of state to Falkland.

In late February 1643 the king knighted Hyde and appointed him to the privy council; shortly afterwards he was made chancellor of the exchequer. The preferment was a token of the king's appreciation of Hyde's ability and constitutional views (he had recently told the queen that he would appoint him to the secretaryship ‘for the truth is I can trust nobody else’; DNB); but it was probably also connected to the contacts between the parliamentary peace party and Oxford in February. Despite his belief in the autumn of the need for firm action, once war had been joined Hyde became closely associated with a political, rather than military, solution, but his approach to achieving it was not to offer compromises on central prerogatives or the church, but to chip away at parliament's support. When commissioners from London (including Bulstrode Whitelocke) arrived in Oxford at the end of March, Hyde and Falkland were closely involved in the negotiations for a ceasefire, but his main purpose seems to have been to detach individual moderates from the parliamentary party. By the middle of April the treaty negotiations had been abandoned, with Hyde blaming the unwillingness of parliament to provide a realistic basis for discussions. His own side's real interest in negotiations was in fact strictly limited, and the influence of the privy council on royalist policy small: the ‘soldiers did all they could to lessen the reverence that was due to them, thinking themselves the best judges of all counsels and designs, because they were for the most part to execute them’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 2.537). The king may have appreciated Hyde's opposition to the concession of prerogative powers, but he was less enthusiastic about his commitment to a peaceful conclusion of the war; Hyde interpreted his decision to remove command of the army from the marquess of Hertford and give it to Prince Maurice as an indication that he believed ‘that he should sooner reduce his people by the power of his army than by the persuasions of his Council, and that the roughness of the one's nature might prevail more than the lenity and condescension of the other’ (ibid., 3.128).

The death of Falkland—‘the joy and comfort of his life’—at the battle of Newbury on 20 September 1643 left Hyde as grief-stricken as he had been at the loss of his first wife. The secretaryship was filled by Lord Digby but if anything Falkland's death increased Hyde's involvement in royal policy-making. He was now one of a junto—the effective part of the council—including the duke of Richmond, Lord Cottington, Digby and the other secretary, Sir Edward Nicholas, and Sir John Colepeper, ‘where all matters were to be consulted before they should be brought to the council-board’ (Life, 1.177).

Yet the court's failure to provide Bedford and Holland, the defectors from the parliamentary cause in August, with a more enthusiastic welcome showed how little support there was in the royalist camp for Hyde's strategy of reuniting the moderate parliamentary élite. His proposal for a gathering at Oxford of those who had seceded from the parliament in London was partly designed to efface the impression that further migrations would be coldly received, as well as to demonstrate that those who remained at Westminster were merely ‘a handful of desperate persons, who, by the help of the tumults raised in the city of London, had driven away the major part of the Parliament’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 259–60). What Hyde described (probably with some exaggeration) as almost 300 members of the Commons and more than sixty peers met at Oxford between January and April 1644 and October 1644 and March 1645. Hyde and Colepeper acted as parliamentary managers. Hyde was, though, unwilling to claim for it the title of parliament and provide a propaganda coup for Westminster, and the king was unhappy with the pressure to negotiate which it created: beyond unsuccessful approaches to the earl of Essex and some political cover for raising money, the assembly made little impact.

Nevertheless, Hyde regarded other strategies—such as Prince Rupert's determination to tackle the combined parliamentarian and Scottish army outside York, or Lord Wilmot's informal approaches to Essex in 1644, offering concessions—as endangering the success of his own attempts to split the parliamentary coalition. During the autumn of 1644 the revival of the old tensions in the parliamentary alliance—between the Scots and the English and presbyterians and sectaries—enabled Hyde to try again to exploit them. In late November parliament sent commissioners with new propositions for peace, and negotiations began at Uxbridge at the end of January 1645. The king's commissioners included Hertford, Richmond, Southampton, Colepeper, Geoffrey Palmer, and Hyde, who seems to have acted as their secretary as well as taking an active part in the proceedings. He was convinced that many of the parliamentary commissioners—who again included Whitelocke—were so keen on a peace that they would have been prepared to settle on ‘much honester conditions then they durst own’, and he was, for a time, almost willing to go along with a temporary transfer of the militia to commissioners (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 3.497). But Hyde changed his mind, and there had been in any case little willingness on either side to accept a real compromise, at least on this central issue. In its absence Hyde's main efforts were directed towards exposing disagreements between the Scots and parliamentary commissioners over forms of presbytery. By the second half of February the failure of the treaty was obvious, and both sides parted on the 23rd, exhausted:
they who had been most inured to business had not in their lives ever undergone so great fatigue for twenty days together as at that treaty; the commissioners seldom parting during that whole time till one or two of the clock in the morning, and they being obliged to sit up long after who were to prepare such papers as were directed for the next day, and to write letters to Oxford. (ibid., 3.501)
The failure of the Uxbridge treaty further reduced the influence in royal counsels of the advocates of negotiation. The king had already decided to move his elder son, Prince Charles, away from Oxford to the greater safety of the west. In the previous year the king had appointed a council for the prince which included some of those who had been involved in the negotiations—Richmond, Southampton, Colepeper, and Hyde. Now he commanded it to accompany the prince. Richmond and Southampton refused, insisting on remaining with the king. Hyde was deeply reluctant to be removed from court, but complied. On 4 March 1645 he left Oxford with Colepeper and the rest of the prince's entourage. Shortly afterwards the king dismissed the Oxford parliament.

What followed was one of the unhappiest periods of Hyde's career—made worse by the onset of the gout which intermittently cursed him for the rest of his life. The prince's role in the west had been determined only vaguely; the council lacked influence; and the lines of command in the royalist forces in the west were already confused. The fifteen-year-old prince was not close to any of the members of the council. When they arrived in Somerset the council attempted to bring some co-ordination to the activities of generals Lord Goring and Sir Richard Grenville. They succeeded mainly in upsetting both: Hyde's lawyerly attitudes and confidence in his own views came to be especially resented by Goring and Grenville and the rest of the soldiery. After the king's defeat at Naseby on 14 June 1645 the western campaign became in any case merely a holding operation, as Fairfax advanced into Somerset and Devon. At the beginning of July the king commanded that the prince should go to France as soon as his position became dangerous. Hyde went into Cornwall to make contingency plans for a crossing, whenever it should be required; but the council in general, and Hyde in particular, were deeply opposed to the idea of a move into France—into the hands of the Catholic queen and a government which Hyde viewed with intense suspicion—and wrote to the king querying his instructions. After the fall of Bristol on 11 September the question became more urgent still. The council risked outright disobedience in arguing that the prince's going abroad would be ‘an argument against his Majesty's sincere intentions’. Instead, they proposed either Jersey or the Scillies—still within the king's dominions.

At the beginning of 1646 the royalist defence in the west fell apart and the council fixed on an escape to the Scillies, arriving on 4 March; but it became clear that the islands were untenable against a determined attack. A parliamentarian fleet appeared before them on 12 April, and taking advantage of its dispersal in a storm the council moved a few days later to Jersey. Jersey was relatively secure, and it seemed possible to remain there for some time, but the queen now insisted that the prince come to France. The question of where to go became linked to wider discussions about royalist strategy and to an offer of mediation by, perhaps even alliance with, France. In June a large delegation, including Colepeper, Digby, Wilmot, and Jermyn, arrived in Jersey and thrashed out the issue in a heated series of meetings from 20 to 22 June. The decision to leave Jersey and go to Paris was taken by the prince himself. Of his council only Colepeper agreed to accompany him, and with the prince's embarkation on 25 June most of the remaining members of the council dispersed, leaving only lords Capel and Hopton and Hyde himself in Jersey. Hyde came to regard the division between those who went and those who remained as marking an almost permanent estrangement between royalist factions.

Jersey and the History of the Rebellion

Hyde stayed in Jersey for almost two years. Much of it he spent reading and writing. He had begun a History of the Rebellion in the Scillies, and by the middle of June he had reached the end of what is now book 3; but after the move to Jersey and the departure of the prince he broke off to compose instead a lengthy vindication of the activities of the prince's council in the west over the previous fifteen months. He returned quite quickly to the History, however; by the beginning of October he was up to the arrival of the king in York in March 1642, the present book 5. Writing for three hours a day, he was estimating by November 1646 that the full work ‘would exceed what Daniell hath written of twelve kings; to what a Book of Martyrs will the whole volume swell’ (Clarendon State Papers, 1.341–2). As he began to deal with the war itself, though, the rate of production fell: he needed information from others, which was not always forthcoming, or not as quick to come as required. By November 1647 he was finding the attempt to extract information from others increasingly frustrating: ‘I often wish I had never begun, having found less assistance for it than I thought I should have done, as if all men had a desire the ill should be remembered, and the good forgotten’ (Firth, 46).

Hyde nursed considerable literary ambitions for his History and in correspondence with friends discussed what models—both Roman and more recent—it might follow. Read now, with parts of his later autobiography spliced into it as they were in 1671–2, it is a much less formal and much more revealing record than it originally was. Though he disclaimed publication in print for the History, it was intended to be a very public statement of Hyde's own political beliefs and of the essentials of royalism which might at least circulate privately—‘to inform myself and some others what we are to do, as well as to comfort us in what we have done’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.3). The accounts of misgovernment in the 1630s and of the debates in the Long Parliament and the inclusion of the royalist declarations of 1642 make at least the first few books of the History into an argument for and vindication of the carefully balanced form of royalism set out in the declarations. Monarchical rule had to be firmly founded in law; concessions to parliamentary pressure might upset the fine balance of a constitution which had already been damaged by the government's failure to recognize the importance of those legal foundations in the past. The existing church government had to be defended as part of that constitution and legal foundation. Hyde intended to make a long digression, as book 5, on the theory and practice of the constitution, covering:
the just regal power of the King of England, and of his negative voice, of the militia, and of the great seal by the laws of England, of the original, at least of the antiquity and constitution of parliaments, of their jurisdiction and privileges, of the power of the House of Peers by the law, and of the natural limits and extent of the Commons. (Firth, 39)
But the little treatise on constitutional law never emerged, perhaps because of the unavailability of the sources he needed.Hyde had removed himself from royalist counsels but he remained closely in touch with sympathetic figures in what passed for the royal court—Sir Edward Nicholas, Lord Digby, and Sir John Berkeley among others—and to these friends provided a commentary on aspects of royalist policy and events in England. He continued to argue against an alliance with France; he objected to the view that the king should negotiate on the basis of the Scots' Newcastle propositions; and he harangued friends to persuade them against taking the covenant and compounding. The experience of defeat may have made him engage more deeply than he had since Great Tew in the 1630s with ecclesiastical issues. He wrote against sacrilege, concerned both by the possibility that the king might accept damaging concessions on the church and by parliament's first radical move against the church (the ordinance of October 1646 appropriating church lands), and he was disgusted by the attitude of the continental reformed churches to the difficulties of the Church of England.

Despite this, Hyde's period in Jersey was one of almost blissful distance from the struggles and frustrations of the previous few years. He ‘enjoyed … the greatest tranquillity of mind imaginable’ (Life, 1.205); he moved into Castle Elizabeth, and had painted over his door a line from Ovid, ‘Bene vixit, qui bene latuit’ (‘He has lived well, who has led a quiet life’). Yet he doubted that he could stay for ever; the departure of Capel, then Hopton by early March, deprived him of company; and even in January he was feeling that his stay might be self-indulgent. He doubted whether he would be happily received back as a royal counsellor, especially by the queen. But as the unity of parliament disintegrated in 1647, the possibility opened up of encouraging and exploiting divisions inside the enemy camp. Although Hyde was extremely concerned by the king's negotiations with the Scots, and believed that he had conceded too much in the treaty and engagement that followed, he nevertheless returned to polemic in January 1648 to gnaw at the worries of moderates in England about the vote of no addresses. His short attack on parliament's account of the failure of negotiations with the king, An Answer to a Pamphlet, Entitled a Declaration of the Commons of England, was circulating in London in May; a lengthier version, A Full Answer to an Infamous and Traiterous Pamphlet, was published in July.

The Hague and the embassy to Madrid, 1648–1651

The crisis initiated by the vote of no addresses, and the preparations for a royalist rising and a Scottish invasion of England in the summer, finally brought Hyde back into royal counsels. At the beginning of June 1648, a command was sent from Paris to a number of councillors to gather at Paris: Hyde dropped the History of the Rebellion and scrambled to comply, but it was more than two months after he left Jersey on 26 June before he could catch up with the court. He found Nicholas, Lord Cottington, and the earl of Bristol at Rouen, where they discovered that Prince Charles had left the queen at St Germain to rendezvous with the mutinied parliamentarian fleet. With Cottington he chased the prince as far as Dunkirk only to find him gone; he took another ship at Dunkirk but it was captured, and they were robbed, by pirates. Not until 17 September did they finally find Charles at The Hague.

By then the rebellions in England had clearly failed, and information was reaching the Netherlands of the disastrous defeat of the Scots, just as the earl of Lauderdale arrived to attempt to persuade Charles to come to Scotland. Hyde's distaste for court politics, learned at Oxford, was quickly reawakened. The court, in his sketch of it, was riven by recriminations for the collapse of the counter-revolution: Colepeper and Robert Long, the prince's secretary, were blamed for the ill-starred Scottish alliance. Hyde lent his weight to those opposing the alliance, making as his first contribution to a council meeting for over two years a typically offensive and punctilious demand for Lauderdale to withdraw as they discussed the terms he offered. It soon became apparent that the Scots were now in no position to offer an alliance anyway. But the opening of new negotiations between the king and parliamentary commissioners at the Isle of Wight in September meant that the possibility of unwelcome concessions on both the church and the constitution continued to exist. Hyde was deeply opposed to the proposals discussed at the treaty of Newport and to the king's offer to suspend episcopacy for three years and to confer military power on parliament for twenty; but he recognized the enormous pressure on both the king and the parliamentary moderates to secure an agreement, and copied into the History the apology for the terms which the king sent to The Hague: ‘Censure us not for having parted with so much of our own right; the price is great, but the commodity was security to us, peace to our people’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 4.454). The council at The Hague could only look on at the negotiations, and then, with increasing horror, at the army's coup on 1–6 December, the trial of the king, and his execution on 30 January 1649.

However great the international revulsion at the killing of Charles I, his eighteen-year-old successor found it extraordinarily difficult to translate this into support for his cause. The best hopes for royalist recovery remained either for the marquess of Ormond to defeat parliament in Ireland, or for an alliance with the kirk party in Scotland (which, although it had been opposed to the 1648 invasion, had now proclaimed Charles II, and sent him messages of support). Hyde was keen to undermine any undertaking with the kirk party—the scheme backed by the queen and Colepeper—as much as he could. And although his attempts to forge a coalition between its enemies, Montrose and the engagers of 1648, were doomed to failure, Montrose's presence at The Hague when commissioners arrived from the kirk party to consider the basis of co-operation with the king severely reduced the (already small) likelihood of its happening. Hyde also opposed concessions designed to attract domestic presbyterian support: he resisted the prince of Orange's suggestion that the continental protestant churches be included in any proposed synod to consider the religious question. By the end of May hopes of an alliance with the Scots were abandoned. On 29 May it was resolved that the king should sail to Ireland to join Ormond. Hyde did not go with him. Instead he allowed himself to be persuaded by Lord Cottington to accompany him on a mission to Spain, to raise support for the cause there. Hyde's dislike of the court had a great deal to do with his decision to leave: he
did believe that he should in some degree improve his understanding, and very much refresh his spirits, … by his absence from being continually conversant with those wants which could never be severed from that court, and that company which would always be corrupted by those wants. (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 5.37)
Hyde and Cottington left The Hague at the very beginning of June 1649, going via Antwerp (where Hyde saw his wife and children for the first time since leaving Oxford), Brussels, Paris, and St Germain. An interview with the queen at St Germain helped to dampen the queen's hostility, and it may have been as a result of this meeting that Hyde drafted a memorandum on royalist strategy. It considered the likelihood of an alliance with either of the English republic's principal internal enemies—the presbyterians or the Levellers. It suggested a line to take with either group, accepting their lack of involvement in the king's death, and rejecting the idea of reconquest with foreign assistance. He insisted that there should be no acceptance of the solemn league and covenant and no agreement to change the law except in a full and free parliament, and that church government should be debated in a parliament to be called by the king's writ. The key was for the king to be resolute on these conditions: ‘if they shall once believe him fixed and resolved upon his owne grounds (which can only restore him and preserve him being restored) they will entirely cast themselves at his Majesty's feet and be of his parties’ (Warner, 1.147).

By the time Hyde and Cottington arrived at St Germain the Irish expedition had been abandoned because of the success of the Commonwealth's armies against Ormond. The plans for the Spanish embassy held, however, and they left on 29 September for Bordeaux. Passing through the battle lines of the Fronde, they finally arrived in Madrid on 26 November. Hyde was much struck with Spain, noting the cruelty of the bullfights and the modesty of the women, but the prospects of securing any more than moral support from Philip IV were negligible. With the parlous state of Spanish royal finances, the king's promise to obtain Catholic help may have been the most he could do.

Hyde was isolated from affairs elsewhere, and was seriously under-employed. He knew little about the beleaguered state of Ormond in Ireland, or the decision of an expanded council in January 1650 to reopen discussions with the Scots. When he found out, in the middle of March, he was appalled, and he was even more concerned when the king actually went to Scotland, although the king's possession of a kingdom and an army enhanced the prestige of his own embassy. Hyde's and Cottington's situation was complicated, though, by the murder in Madrid of the republic's agent, Anthony Ascham, by a group of royalist thugs in June; after the defeat of the king and the Scots at Dunbar in September they were given broad hints that they should go. By the beginning of December the advice had become explicit. Cottington decided to remain, privately, in Spain; Hyde left in March 1651, uncertain of his ultimate destination.

Paris, 1651–1654

Hyde's return journey through France was plagued with gout and sickness. With privileges granted by the king of Spain he was allowed to settle in Antwerp, with the character of ambassador. Permitted his own chapel, he became the resort of the English community in the town. How he financed himself and his family—and the acquisition of a growing library—is not at all clear, but he discussed and continued vigorously to resist a return to England in exchange for composition. It is possible that he (like a number of other royalists) wavered in that resistance in the nervous weeks between the king's defeat at Worcester and the confirmation in late October of his survival and escape. When Charles at last reached Paris he summoned Hyde to join him. Having left his wife and children at Breda in the hands of the princess of Orange, Hyde travelled painfully back to Paris, arriving by 30 December. He found himself one of the most senior political figures there, the only member, so he noted, of the king's original privy council in Paris. As a long discussion with the king shortly after his arrival indicated, he was one of the few whom the king was now prepared to trust. Another was Ormond, who had been forced to abandon Ireland, and with whom Hyde now formed a close political alliance and personal friendship. There could be little unity in royal policy-making, however, while the court remained in Paris. The queen was determined to be involved in decisions—often through Hyde's old adversary, Jermyn. An added complication was the duke of York's determination to assert his independence of his brother and the council. A skeleton council was formed with Hyde, Ormond, Jermyn, and Lord Wilmot, the king's companion during the escape from Worcester. Others slowly drifted back or were added, including Lord Digby in March 1652.

The reconstituted court spent more of its energy on power struggles than on efforts to regain the throne. God's intention, Hyde commented in some distraction, must be:
either to make us worthy of that destruction He hath assigned us, or, if He intends to preserve us, that we may have no pretence to virtue of our own that might bear a part in our recovery, but that we may owe all intirely to the miracle of His mercy. (Clarendon State Papers, 2.218)
Sir Robert Long, the new secretary of state, appears to have fallen foul of the queen, and was turned out of the court early in 1652 after a lengthy investigation of allegations of treason made against him, in which Hyde—perhaps seeking to retain the queen's favour—was heavily involved. Hyde was left again performing the role of secretary. His long-standing friendship with Sir John Berkeley, the duke of York's old governor, was wrecked over a combination of political and personal disagreements. He fell out with other long-standing councillors as well, including Sir Edward Herbert, the attorney-general. Part of the court's trouble stemmed from the lack of money and of any obvious strategy for political recovery. The queen's pension from France was its only reasonably reliable source of income; a few months after his return from England, the king managed to obtain his own separate grant, although its payment was no more than sporadic because of the instability of the French government. Hyde's insistence that the king refuse to satisfy demands for provisional grants of office or land in England in lieu of more valuable reimbursement for their services made him increasingly unpopular among the king's servants.

While many schemes existed for risings in England, Scotland, and Ireland, few of them appeared to have much chance of success. A project for royalist resistance in Scotland under the command of John Middleton and the earl of Glencairn was developed slowly in 1652–3, and the court conducted long-drawn-out negotiations with the duke of Lorraine in the hope of persuading him to finance and fit out an expedition to Ireland. Hyde, though, doubted the value of armed intervention. He and Ormond, he wrote, believed:
that the King had nothing at this time to do but to be quiet, and that all his activity was to consist in carefully avoiding to do any thing that might do him hurt, and to expect some blessed conjuncture from the unity of Christian princes, or some such revolution of affairs in England by their own discontents and divisions amongst themselves, as might make it seasonable for his majesty again to shew himself. (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 5.240)
It was in effect an extension of the strategy which Hyde had favoured during the war years, and it was far from simple to follow. Hyde's attempts to avoid actions which he thought would harm the prospects of a Restoration required him to upset a good many other parties. He objected to the proposal for the king's participation in the services of the French protestant church at Charenton (intended to attract presbyterian support). It would be taken, he argued, to mean either that the king had abandoned hope of the revival of the Church of England, or else that he thought that the differences between it and the French church were indifferent—something which would threaten the status of the bishops in the English church. Likewise, Hyde opposed steps to the marriage of either the duke of York or the king himself: he and Ormond ‘besought him to set his heart entirely on the recovery of England, and to indulge to nothing that might reasonably obstruct that, either by making him less intent upon it, or by creating new difficulties in the pursuing it’ (ibid., 5.250).

Attempts to create a united front against the republic among Christian princes found little success. When a breach in relations between the republic and the Dutch appeared likely in the summer of 1652, Hyde devoted considerable time and effort to discussions with Boreel, the Orangist Dutch ambassador in Paris, about how to turn the likely war to the advantage of the Orange faction in the Netherlands and the royalists in England. By late August royalist hopes were growing of creating a grand coalition of continental powers against England, drawing in the French, the Swedes, and the Danes. But the Dutch responded with extreme caution to offers of a royalist naval squadron or even royalist privateering, and by the end of the year, when France sent an ambassador to England, the court recognized that the coalition scheme was unlikely ever to become a reality. France's courting of the republic made the search for alternative support imperative: the republic was bound to demand the expulsion of the king as a price of an alliance. Wilmot, now earl of Rochester, left in December to attend the imperial diet at Ratisbon in the hope of obtaining financial backing, and an embassy was prepared to go to Rome in March 1653—but Hyde had little more expectation of the latter than that it should encourage Irish support, and the idea was dropped (according to Hyde, because of difficulties with the queen over the choice of ambassadors).

The promotion of domestic dissent within England proved still more difficult to achieve, even after the dismissal of the Rump Parliament by Cromwell in April 1653. Setting up a network of those prepared to accept instructions from Paris was regarded as the best means of co-ordination and preventing poorly prepared and amateurish swipes at the regime. Early in 1654 the most promising attempt to do so—the Sealed Knot—was handled by Hyde and Ormond. But it was severely affected by a disorganized plot to assassinate Cromwell in June, and all royalist conspiracy was disturbed by the divisions within the court in Paris. Hyde wanted to discourage such efforts: he wrote of ‘the vanity of imagining that any insurrection could give any trouble to so well formed and disciplined army, and the destruction that must attend such a rash and uncounsellable attempt’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 5.347–8). The best that could be hoped for was to wait for either the death of Cromwell or a schism in the army to weaken its hold over England. The worst would be Cromwell's assumption of the title of king, and his more secure establishment in power.

Royalist options were narrowing sharply as negotiations continued between France and Cromwell during 1654, until the news which arrived in April of Rochester's success in obtaining promises of cash. Hyde began to talk, with much relief, of moving to Germany. By mid-1653 the strain of Paris politics had begun to tell on him: he was weary of trying to get the pleasure-loving king to concentrate on business, while resentment at his influence with the king, and his forthright views on the opinions or value of others, made him deeply loathed by a wide variety of enemies. Early in 1653 bands of Scots presbyterians and Catholics at court, apparently with the support of the queen, requested his removal; towards the middle of the year Jermyn and Sir Edward Herbert planned an attack on his influence by means of an attempt to restore Sir Robert Long to favour and his place as secretary. The king accepted the queen's request that Herbert be made lord keeper in April; by July Herbert and Jermyn were putting together a treason charge against Hyde. The charge backfired, ending in a full hearing in council and a vindication of Hyde by the king on 14 January 1654. Yet as long as he stayed in Paris, Hyde seems to have felt threatened, and the atmosphere remained poisonous.

From June 1654 a move to Germany had become possible, and essential, as the Anglo-French negotiations progressed. The queen remained in Paris along with a number of Hyde's more bitter opponents, including Herbert, allowing a respite from the bitter conflicts of the past few years. Also remaining with her, however, was her youngest son, the fourteen-year-old duke of Gloucester, whom the king allowed to stay as a result of her pleading, despite a well-founded suspicion that she planned to have him received into the Roman church. On 10 July the royal household finally made its way out of Paris, thankful to be leaving but conscious that it was leaving for a far more uncertain future than ever before. Hyde wrote that ‘the King is as low now as to human understanding he can be’ (Clarendon State Papers, 2.381).

Germany, Flanders, and the Spanish alliance, 1654–1658

Hyde took the opportunity, as the court moved first to Aachen, to visit his family at Breda, but had rejoined it by the time it moved on to Cologne at the end of September. Despite difficulties about securing the money pledged at Ratisbon, residence at Cologne vastly improved the temper of king, court, and Hyde himself, with just enough diversions—such as the passage through the town of the abdicated Queen Kristina, who impressed Hyde enormously—to keep it amused without diverting it from what Hyde saw as the task in hand. Yet Paris could not be escaped. At the end of October the king heard at Cologne that as had been feared the queen had begun a campaign to make his young brother change his religion, packing off his tutor and sending the duke to stay with her confessor, the Abbé Montagu. Ormond efficiently sorted out the exceptionally delicate situation, but the incident considerably reduced the prospect of securing financial help from the pope, despite a promising approach via the duke of Newburg.

The court's main problem, however, was to keep some control over the varied schemes of royalist insurgency being hatched across the channel. Hyde's view—at least retrospectively—was that most of these were wildly impractical, but that to try to prevent them would be to kill off royalist conspiracy altogether. Worst of all was the mutual jealousy that existed among the various groups: ‘everybody chose their own knot with whom they would converse, and would not communicate with anybody else’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 5.368–9). From time to time Hyde did have some hopes of a reasonably successful rising, and the winter of 1654–5 was occupied with planning for one early in the new year. But with little understanding of the true disposition of forces in England the king could not co-ordinate or lead it, nor take decisions about whether or not it should go ahead. It was regularly postponed. At last, in February 1655, the king, accompanied by Ormond, left Cologne for the coast, and was followed a little later by Hyde. The rising in late March proved a messy failure: only in Wiltshire did it result in a significant public-order problem for the army, and even that was over by the 25th (NS). Hyde (whose return from Breda was delayed by illness) was widely blamed in royalist circles for the mess.

By the summer, however, hopes of external assistance rose as news arrived in August of Cromwell's aggression against Spanish colonies in the West Indies. When the Anglo-French treaty was signed at the beginning of November (NS), preparations were already being made for the renewal of hostilities between Spain and allied forces in Flanders. The king and Hyde fired off letters to the Spanish ministers in Madrid and Brussels offering co-operation. The Spanish were highly reluctant to commit themselves, but by February 1656 they had agreed to let the king, accompanied by Ormond, come to Flanders; Hyde, apparently at Spanish insistence, remained at Cologne. In April the king agreed with the Spanish ministers a treaty (ratified by Philip IV in June) promising a small amount of military and naval assistance in England if the royalists were able to seize a port for a landing, but, more practically, allowing the king to reside in Flanders. The court began hasty preparations for a further move.

With the Spanish alliance, the royalists had for the first time what seemed to be a serious promise of military help, and something around which they could build a domestic insurgency. Over the next four years Hyde and his colleagues, with an increasing sense of frustration, worked hard to take advantage of it. Hyde, having gone to visit his pregnant wife at Breda, met the king at Antwerp by the middle of May 1656. Over the summer he shuttled between Brussels and Bruges to discuss with the Spanish ministers the terms of their co-operation and the payment of the subsidy; reopened contact with the conspirators of the Sealed Knot and other active royalists; began discussions with William Howard, a representative of the Levellers; and struggled with the huge logistical problems caused by the recruitment of a royalist army under Spanish pay. By October and November Hyde was buried under work, even though negotiations with the governor of Flanders, Don Juan of Austria, and the other ministers were increasingly handled by Lord Digby, now earl of Bristol, who was appointed secretary of state on the first day of 1657.

Despite Bristol's charm and ability to get on with Don Juan, the collaboration was doomed by the financial squeeze on the Spanish, and the inability of the royalists to make any practical commitments about securing a port. Planning for a rising in the winter of 1656–7 was abandoned by February, and postponed to the following year. Hyde's frustration and ill-temper at what he generally saw as the inefficiency and dishonesty of the Spanish were not improved by the difficulty of getting any activity going in England. From having lamented the keenness of royalists at home to engage in poorly planned attacks, he now regretted the apparent absence of any interest in rebellion at all; royalists:
seem to have so little confidence in each other that they rarely confer together, or send advice, or declare what part they can take, but seem so heart-broken as only to wait for some extraordinary act of Providence; if the King were to land to-morrow in England with as good an army as can be hoped for, he would be overpowered as he was at Worcester while men sit still and wait for the effect of the first battle. (Clarendon State Papers, 3.359)
To add to his worries, the king's enjoyment of and involvement in the activities of the army both threatened his life and (to Hyde's eyes) rendered him unfit for anything else.

In the following winter Spanish interest in the invasion of England grew, at least to divert Cromwell from his participation in the attack on Flanders. Towards the end of 1657 there seemed a real prospect that they were finally prepared to commit themselves. In December Hyde declared that:
the conjuncture seems as favourable as can be wished, nor can it ever be presumed that the King can be in a greater readiness than he is at present … Every paper from England cries to haste away, matters cannot be better prepared. (Underdown, 216)
But when Ormond, at Spanish insistence, secretly visited England in February 1658 he recognized the inability of conspirators to support an invasion. The appearance of the English fleet in strength in the channel finally forced the plans—to Hyde's frustration—again to be put off to the next winter. A new gloom descended on the royal cause. The arrests of royalist conspirators which followed destroyed the remaining influence of the Sealed Knot. In an attempt to get a more positive commitment from Spain, the king considered going there himself. Hyde was in Breda in August 1658, probably hoping to draw the Dutch into an alliance against France and England. He was there still when news arrived in September of Cromwell's death.

The Restoration, 1658–1660

The quiet transfer of power to Cromwell's son Richard disappointed royalist hopes of Leveller risings or other disturbances; it also considerably reduced the briefly reawakened interest of the Spanish in their alliance with Charles. By November they were actively seeking to negotiate peace with England. But it did encourage the abandonment of the fruitless search for a strategy based solely on military success. Anticipating a new parliament, Hyde made strenuous efforts to encourage royalists and his contacts among the Levellers to seek election. It proved difficult to coax all the forces hostile to the protectorate into active co-operation in the parliament which opened on 27 January 1659, and by April much of Richard's new constitution had been accepted. Some ascribed the failure to block it to Hyde's reluctance to make sufficient approaches to presbyterians; after the confrontation between Richard and the army in April, more strenuous efforts were made to attract them. As a consequence, the debate about political and ecclesiastical concessions—largely dormant since 1651—was revived.

The scale of Hyde's efforts at intervention in English affairs grew rapidly as 1659 wore on. He used his Leveller contacts to exacerbate the divisions between the recalled Rump and the army and within the army, and sought with increasing difficulty to co-ordinate a range of conspiracies. New instruments—especially Lord Mordaunt—had been found to replace the discredited Knot, and by mid-May these were trying to put together plans for a royalist–presbyterian rising. In July they were judged to be well enough advanced for the king to make preparations to cross to England, while Hyde waited nervously in Brussels. In the event the rising was a dismal failure, with only the presbyterian Sir George Booth in Cheshire offering any significant resistance to the army. In its aftermath the king's hope of an alliance of the two crowns of France and Spain to help him to recover his own seemed more practical than to wait for another chance to capitalize on the insecurity of the army and the Rump. Hyde, who had previously been reluctant to see the king supported by an invasion, hoped that the declaration by the two crowns of their intention to help would encourage defections to his cause. Charles left to attend the negotiations between France and Spain, in company with the earl of Bristol.

While the king was en route for the Pyrenees news came of the army's dismissal of the Rump on the night of 13/14 October, which set off the final moves leading to the Restoration. Speculation mounted about the intentions of General George Monck, the commander of the army in Scotland, whose army was capable of challenging the forces under the control of the committee of safety in England, commanded by John Lambert. Hyde resisted any premature action, wanting nothing to prevent the likelihood of a conflict developing between Lambert and Monck. Depressed at news of the agreement between Monck's commissioners and Lambert on 12 November, Hyde was relieved when it was disowned by Monck himself on the 22nd. In December Monck moved slowly south, the army council collapsed in confusion, the Rump was restored, and Lambert's army disintegrated. Keenly watching developments, Hyde—always highly sceptical about Monck's intentions—grew concerned about the possibility that he might form a firm alliance with the Rump. His agents were encouraged to do their best to disrupt the relationship and to make approaches to prominent presbyterians such as Manchester, Fairfax, and Waller. But after Monck arrived in London in February 1660, the readmission of the secluded members and the decision of the Long Parliament to dissolve and to call new elections brought a Restoration within grasp for the first time.

In March and April Hyde once again exhorted all his contacts to obtain election to the new parliament. He was by now almost confident that, as he had hoped for many years, the logic of events should enable the king to return without concessions; but there were still dangers to be avoided. Keen not to jeopardize success at the elections, he tried to suppress the provocative activities of some royalist clergy. The presbyterians in the council of state identified Hyde as the principal obstacle to any negotiation, and tried, fruitlessly, to mobilize their allies at court to insist on his removal. Monck's views on the terms which the army would accept, crucial to the shape of the restored monarchy, remained frustratingly opaque. Not until 19 March did he give any indication of them: they alarmed Hyde further, particularly the request for a general liberty of conscience, which ‘was a violation of all the laws in force, and could not be comprehended to consist with the peace of the kingdom’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 6.197). But a confident expectation by late March that the elections would produce a well-disposed parliament confirmed a long-standing policy ‘to make a general reference of all things which he could not reserve to himself to the wisdom of the Parliament, upon presumption that they would not exact from him more than he was willing to consent to’ (Clarendon State Papers, 4.197). This was reflected in the declaration, drafted by Hyde, but amended at a meeting at Hyde's lodgings in Brussels by Nicholas, Ormond, and the king and published from Breda at the beginning of April.

Hyde had already made approaches to the states general concerning a move to the Netherlands; Monck's advice hastened it. Hyde, preparing letters for the king to send to the new House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the City of London, arrived at Breda on 5 April (OS), the day after Charles. In the few weeks before the new parliament was due to sit his agents in London, especially Mordaunt and George Morley, were conducting intense discussions with the principal presbyterians to overcome any attempt to insist on conditions and to break what was widely rumoured to be an alternative negotiation, conducted from the queen's court, based on acceptance of some conditions. After parliament opened the royal court was still unsure what success the presbyterians were likely to have; a management committee full of Hyde's political allies—the earl of Southampton, Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Geoffrey Palmer, and others—ran the royalist interest. The failure of the presbyterians to hold back the train of events set the course for the Restoration. In response to the votes of both houses, the king moved to The Hague on 15 May (OS) and welcomed a committee of both houses on the 16th. Hyde sailed for England with the king on 22 May.

The convention and the establishment of the Restoration monarchy

Early in 1660 the king had been advised by a relatively tightly knit junto of four: apart from Hyde himself (who had been made lord chancellor in January 1658), they were Ormond, Colepeper, and Nicholas. The only one of these with whom Hyde's relationship was not uniformly good was Colepeper, who died very shortly after the Restoration. The influence of the queen mother and her associates was no longer significant, particularly following the alliance with Spain. The influence of Bristol, who had been so heavily involved in negotiations with the Spanish in 1657–9, had decayed rapidly after his entry into the Roman Catholic church towards the end of 1658—Hyde's disapproval of which had resulted in a breach of their old friendship—and he had been forced to give up the secretaryship. Others were brought into the inner circle after the Restoration. Monck's inclusion was unavoidable, but it was soon clear that he had little interest in exercising much influence over policy. The earl of Southampton, among the few remaining members of Charles I's and the prince of Wales's councils, was also brought in and became a powerful political ally of the chancellor. Some presbyterians were brought into government office, but generally in less significant or in subordinate places.

Hyde was left apparently in a dominant position: he was ‘the highest in place and thought to be in trust, because he was most in private with the King, and managed most of the secret correspondence in England, and all despatches of importance had passed through his hands’ (Life, 1.309). He claimed to want nothing more than to act as lord chancellor and recorded his indignant rejection of Ormond's suggestion that he resign the office and act more simply as principal counsellor to the king. He eventually shed his chairmanship of the Treasury commission established at the Restoration when Southampton was appointed lord treasurer in September, and not until September the following year did he cease to act as chancellor of the exchequer. But he found it impossible to extricate himself from the rest of his burden while the king looked on him as the most reliable of his advisers and himself shrank from hard work or difficult decisions. As a result Hyde continued to be occupied with a phenomenal amount of business, both domestic and foreign, and including much involvement in the affairs of Ireland and Scotland. The exact extent of Hyde's responsibility for policy is difficult to pin down, for despite his strong views on political and constitutional affairs he insisted on procedural propriety and claimed to accept, and argue for, decisions with which he did not necessarily agree. Nevertheless, the government's strategy in the 1660s reflected Hyde's central concern to rebuild the monarchy by creating confidence in the government's respect for law and due process.

It was an obvious concern for a chancellor, and Gilbert Burnet noted how Hyde was regarded as a ‘very good chancellor … very impartial in the administration of justice’ (Burnet's History, 1.i.169). Hyde's encouragement of reforms of chancery procedure was designed with the same ends in mind. But it also ran through many other of the government's actions—in particular its efforts to prevent a bloody counter-revolution. The question of retribution was among the most dangerous issues to be addressed, and made more dangerous by the abandonment in the declaration of Breda of a long-established policy of excepting from a general pardon a few specific individuals, or else those who had been Charles I's judges—a policy which had been intended to make any blood-letting as relatively legal and certain a process as possible. Monck had insisted instead on the reference of the issue to parliament, expecting it to reduce the number of exceptions. Instead it converted it into an exercise in political trading, leading to lengthy and bitter debates in the convention. Hyde describes himself as playing a leading role in restricting the number excepted from the pardon in the Act of Indemnity: ‘no man was more impatient to remove all causes which obstructed that work’ (Life, 1.401). But in the process the king—and more particularly Hyde—were seen as failing to acknowledge the sacrifice and sufferings of their closest allies.

The perception that Hyde neglected the interests of royalists grew as the government grappled with the ecclesiastical settlement. Hyde aimed to re-establish an episcopal Church of England with a basic uniformity of practice. But presbyterianism had a powerful voice in the convention, and the government's—Hyde's—strategy appears to have been to avoid a final determination of ecclesiastical affairs until it was in a stronger position to influence it. Hyde and the king held lengthy discussions with senior presbyterians during June 1660 and the government reluctantly accepted a bill to confirm existing incumbents in their livings in September. Shortly before parliament rose for a late summer adjournment, they floated a scheme of slightly moderated episcopacy. In meetings based on the scheme at Hyde's London residence, Worcester House, on 22–25 October, presbyterians won some further concessions, especially concerning the roles of bishops and presbyters. The fact that Hyde left the conference early with the king, and the final agreement was drawn up by the earl of Anglesey and Lord Hollis—both presbyterian moderates—has sometimes been seen as an indication that Hyde opposed the concessions offered in the Worcester House declaration. Yet there is no evidence that he objected to the offers, nor that the episcopal clergy did; the declaration was cast as a temporary expedient until conditions were right for a more complete restoration of the pre-war church. Hyde was irritated by presbyterian attempts to convert it into a more permanent constitution for the church when parliament sat again during late November and early December, which were thwarted with some difficulty.

Hyde's handling of the ecclesiastical politics of the Restoration was complicated by two other issues of equal delicacy. One was the position within the religious settlement of Independents. During the conference Hyde had raised with the presbyterian leaders the question of whether Independents might be allowed to worship outside the formal structure of the church, a suggestion which they thought designed to open the subject of toleration for Roman Catholics. Hyde used their dismissive response to obtain Independent opposition to the attempt to make the Worcester House declaration permanent in November; but there was probably some truth in the idea that the king at least was considering a form of linkage with the position of Catholics. Some obscure approaches in the summer of 1660 suggest an opening of unofficial negotiations of which Hyde may not have been aware—although more formal discussions were conducted in the course of 1661 in which he certainly took part.

The other issue was more personal. Hyde's eldest child, his daughter , had been taken under the wing of the princess of Orange in 1655 as one of her maids of honour. Anne's affair with James, duke of York [see ], probably began in the Netherlands in 1659. By the spring of 1660 the chancellor's daughter was pregnant; York sought the king's permission to marry her. When Hyde found out—Ormond and Southampton were asked by the king to tell him—his reaction was melodramatic, urging that his daughter be put on trial. Southampton said that he ‘was mad, and had proposed such extravagant things, that he was no more to be consulted with’ (Life, 1.327). Extravagant or not, Hyde recognized his vulnerability to a charge that he was deliberately insinuating himself into the royal family. The queen and the princess of Orange regarded the marriage with extreme distaste, and for several months tried to prevent it. Their pressure and some inept scandalmongering by members of his own household almost persuaded York to cast Anne adrift but the two were married in secret on 3 September 1660, and after a son was born to Anne on 22 October the opposition was slowly overcome. By 20 December York had publicly acknowledged Anne to be his wife; and on 18 February a special meeting of the privy council was summoned in order to affirm the genuineness of the marriage.

In some ways the marriage of his daughter greatly increased Hyde's significance and power within government, allying him closely to the king and the royal family. His election as chancellor of Oxford University on 27 October 1660 indicated the influence which he was now believed to wield. His new status was acknowledged when in November 1660 the king created him Baron Hyde of Hindon and in April 1661 further advanced him as Viscount Cornbury and to the earldom of Clarendon, adding a gift of £20,000 to enable him to maintain the latter position. But the marriage also made his position more problematic. As he later professed to be acutely aware, it exposed him to considerable jealousy; it complicated his relationship with the king, allying him awkwardly with the reversionary interest; and it made it more difficult for him to cut himself off from court politics.

1661–1662: constitutional reconstruction and the regrouping of court faction

Clarendon's growth in slightly uncertain political strength at the turn of the year was paralleled by the Church of England's return to a shaky monopoly of religious power. The convention was dissolved at the end of December 1660. Over the autumn and winter the reconstruction of the church hierarchy had placed it in a politically dominant position; the elections for a new parliament in March and April 1661 virtually destroyed presbyterianism as a political force, within parliament at least. The new, highly royalist parliament which opened on 8 May 1661 might have provided an opportunity for a constitutional counter-revolution. But some—York and Burnet especially—regarded the Restoration reaction as much weaker than it might have been, and believed that Clarendon, clearly implicated in placing limits on the prerogative in 1641–2, had held it back. Clarendon's rejection of the view that acts agreed to by the Lords and king under duress were ipso facto void meant that repeal would have to be sought through legislation; and it is likely to have been his views which principally determined the government's approach to the constitutional and legal settlement in the early sessions of the Cavalier Parliament. The exclusion of the bishops from parliament—which Clarendon believed had been the essential breach of constitutional fundamentals which had allowed parliament to assume power—was repealed in July 1661. The government eventually secured the repeal of the Triennial Act in 1664. But when it came to other acts passed in 1641 or 1642—the abolition of the prerogative courts, and various prerogative rights of taxation—it was much more circumspect. Clarendon had approved of the concessions in 1641, but had not ruled out the possibility of re-establishing the courts, and it is unclear whether it was his view of what was desirable, or of what was politically possible, which prevented it now. Burnet claimed that Clarendon had moderated attempts to provide the king with an adequate financial settlement; but there is no corroboration of the claim, and it seems inherently unlikely, unless he felt too heavy a demand was politically inexpedient.

Clarendon's approach to the religious settlement seemed just as equivocal. The temper of the new parliament permitted a full re-establishment of the Church of England, and at its opening Clarendon encouraged it. Yet, as before, he indicated a willingness to provide temporary relaxation of laws at least for presbyterians:
if the good old known laws be for the present too heavy for their necks which have been so many years without any yoke at all, make a temporary provision of a lighter and easier yoke, till … they recover strength enough to bear, and discretion enough to discern, the benefit and the ease of those laws they disliked. (Cobbett, Parl. hist., 4.191)
Over the following fifteen months, though Clarendon welcomed the reaffirmation of legal uniformity, he became alarmed at parliament's failure to allow the temporary relaxation which he had proposed. His personal efforts to introduce concessions on ceremonial and on the covenant into the Act of Uniformity were unavailing, and the bill received royal assent at the end of May 1662. Even afterwards, Clarendon proposed an arrangement which might allow ministers effectively to keep their livings without complying fully with the Book of Common Prayer: at a privy council meeting on 28 August the opposition of the new bishop of London, his old friend Gilbert Sheldon, convinced the king to drop the idea.

Clarendon's support for moderation in the Act of Uniformity helped to lower his reputation among Anglican royalists, just when he was regarded as having lost the position of pre-eminence with the king that he had enjoyed in 1660 and early 1661. As ever, Clarendon's distaste for and inability to manage court politics was the source of many of his difficulties. The king's mistress, Barbara Palmer, now countess of Castlemaine, and the companion of his youth, the duke of Buckingham, were at the centre of the king's social circle, which viewed the chancellor as a pompous prig. Clarendon in return held Castlemaine in contempt and loathing—he could not be brought to write her name—and deeply deprecated the time the king spent with her. Buckingham, whose contacts with the Cromwells in the 1650s had compromised his claims to political office after the Restoration, he treated with more circumspection. The most immediate threat to Clarendon's position, though, came from the return of the earl of Bristol to active politics. Bristol sought to replace his lost secretaryship with a more informal influence, and planned to place at least one protégé, Sir Henry Bennet, in a position close to the king. In 1661 Bristol's advocacy of toleration for Catholics, his joining forces with the queen and seeking alliances with protestant dissenters to promote it, revived a combination of forces and issues against which Clarendon had struggled during the 1650s. Every contact between the two appeared to embitter a relationship which had once been very close.

Bristol's bid for influence gained plausibility from the divide which opened up between Clarendon and the king over Charles's marriage. Preoccupied with the domestic settlement, the government had given little attention to foreign affairs in the year of the Restoration, beyond closing the now virtually dormant war with Spain. Its main objective from a foreign alliance was to obtain financial support. Finding a bride for the king who brought with her a substantial dowry was one means of obtaining it, and the offer from Portugal in late summer 1660 of the infanta Catherine of Braganza with far-flung possessions and a very large sum of money was highly attractive. The Spanish mobilized their connections to oppose it: Bristol, on their behalf, offered instead one of the princesses of Parma, a Spanish client state. In choosing the Portuguese option, French support was decisive. The marriage was agreed in May 1661, although Catherine did not arrive until a year later.

The new queen's arrival seriously destabilized the court. The king insisted on continuing his affair with Castlemaine, and even demanded that she be made a lady of his wife's bedchamber. Catherine appealed to Clarendon, but Clarendon's intervention provoked Charles into what was probably his first serious row with his chancellor: ‘you know how true a friend I have been to you’, he wrote:
if you desire to have the continuance of my friendship, meddle no more with this business … whosoever I find to be my Lady Castlemaine's enemy in this matter, I do promise, upon my word, to be his enemy as long as I live. (Lister, 3.202–3)
The affair badly dented Clarendon's prestige and political influence. The departure of Ormond to take up residence in Ireland as lord lieutenant in July, shortly after the end of the 1661–2 session of parliament, removed a crucial ally. In October another, Sir Edward Nicholas, was eased out of the secretaryship and the job handed over to Bennet. By late 1662 the emergence of a coalition of forces against Clarendon, based around Bristol, the queen mother, and the court, looked set to produce a palace coup which would end his influence for good.

Clarendon was left more vulnerable still by the unpopularity of Dunkirk's sale to France, which he negotiated in the autumn of 1662. The sale was in part a product of the warmer relations with France which followed the death in March 1661 of Mazarin—always regarded by Clarendon with deep suspicion. In April Clarendon had asked, on a precautionary basis, for a loan of £50,000. Charles was eager to secure a closer alliance with Louis XIV, and to prevent a Franco–Dutch treaty; Clarendon was closely involved in the unsuccessful attempts to achieve either object. The Dunkirk project had not originated with Clarendon, nor had he been the sole adviser, but he became closely identified with it; although he described proudly in his memoir how he had indignantly turned down the offer of £10,000 from the French government, the abandonment of England's only possession in western Europe for less than £400,000 was widely attributed to his being bribed. It gave him an unenviable public reputation and made him an easy target for political attack. Bennet's active courting of members of the Cavalier Parliament late in 1662 may well have been connected to a scheme to seek his impeachment, and to offer an alternative political and religious programme in the following session.

The court crisis of 1663

In the end Clarendon survived because the attempt was premature, the king resisted having his hand forced, and Clarendon was recognized to represent some powerful political forces. The struggle during the parliamentary session of 1663 centred on Bristol's plans to offer an alternative religious policy. A declaration of indulgence, drafted by Bennet and issued on 26 December 1662, indicated the king's intention to seek a statutory power to dispense with the Act of Uniformity. Clarendon did not oppose it, as it appeared similar to the scheme he had advanced in the summer. But the declaration left unclear the exact nature of the dispensation that was being sought, and the bill drafted to give effect to it, shown to the chancellor in February 1663, horrified him. The power to dispense being sought was not specific, but wide and general; not temporary, as Clarendon had proposed in the previous August, but permanent. He saw it as a dangerous replacement of law by royal discretion—‘ship money in religion, that nobody could know the end of, or where it would rest’, and in the House of Lords he attacked the ‘wildness and illimitedness’ of the bill (Life, 2.98). Clarendon's feelings against it were far from unique, and the bill was opposed so vehemently in both houses that within a few weeks of the opening of the session it was dropped.

Clarendon's antipathy to the bill had brought him to a dangerously low point in the king's favour; his opponents began to marshal their strength in the Commons and at court and his dismissal was confidently expected from March onwards. Clarendon himself complained in April to Ormond that Bennet:
hath credit enough to persuade the king that because I did not like what was done I have raised all the evil spirit that hath appeared upon and against it which, I think, you will absolve me from, for without doubt, I could as easily turn turk as act that part. (Bodl. Oxf., Carte MS 47, fol. 45)
With the backing of the duke of York, however, and the evidence that Clarendon's views were shared by a large segment of Anglican royalist and presbyterian opinion, the king refused to remove the chancellor. Bristol's poorly prepared attempt to have Clarendon impeached for high treason by the Commons in July indicated that he saw that his chance to seize power was slipping through his fingers; he obtained the backing of very few, despite his efforts to attract not only those opposed to Clarendon's religious views, but also those Anglican royalists who believed that he had deliberately obstructed their own interests. Even his court allies, especially Bennet, found it expedient to drop him as quickly as possible.

The return to a relatively unified court was helped by renewed concern about radical subversion during the course of 1663, which encouraged the king to adopt a more consistently Anglican royalist religious policy—although there is little evidence that Clarendon personally promoted the anti-dissenting legislation of 1664 and 1665 to which his name later became attached (the Clarendon code). The presence of Bennet (created Baron Arlington in 1665), however, meant that policy-making was no longer dominated by Clarendon to anything like the same extent as in 1662 and before. A wary truce prevailed between the two. Clarendon was also highly sensitive to the growth in influence of Sir William Coventry, an able servant of the duke of York, who became a privy councillor in 1665; of Sir Charles Berkeley, from 1665 the earl of Falmouth, another servant of York's and increasingly an intimate of the king's; and of Lord Ashley, councillor of state under the protectorate, now chancellor of the exchequer and a threat to the position of Southampton, Clarendon's only powerful ally within the English council. In Scotland the earl of Middleton, the royalist conspirator of the 1650s and closely associated with Clarendon, had been replaced in 1663 as commissioner of the parliament; Lauderdale, his old engager adversary, took a dominant position in Scottish affairs, cutting out Clarendon almost completely.

How effective a member of the government Clarendon remained into the later 1660s is uncertain: his conservative instincts and insistence on constitutional propriety became irritating to those who—like Coventry—were keen to see a more effective and dynamic approach to the difficulties of the government, and his objections to projects such as the appropriation of taxation to the repayment of loans in 1665 could seem merely captious. There were signs, too, that his age and illnesses made him no longer capable of carrying his earlier workload. Pepys remarked on his ‘sleeping and snoring the greater part’ of one meeting in November 1666. Yet only six weeks before, Pepys had come home after a meeting about the affairs of Tangier to write in his diary ‘I am mad in love with my Lord Chancellor, for he doth comprehend and speak as well, and with the greatest easiness and authority, that ever I saw man in my life’ (Pepys, Diary, 7.377, 321).

It was perhaps an indication that Clarendon was no longer so central to government business that he began to build on a substantial scale. Hugh May rebuilt his house at Cornbury, his estate near Oxford, in the early 1660s, and in 1664 Clarendon commissioned Roger Pratt to build him a house in London. Clarendon House in Piccadilly was one of the first and best classical houses in London. Clarendon lavished on it much personal interest, paying particular attention to the library, and procuring a collection of portraits of ‘most of our ancient and modern wits, poets, philosophers, famous and learned Englishmen’ to decorate the house (Evelyn, Diary, 3.520). It proved, though, to be a serious mistake. The expense was a heavy burden, but more significant was its political cost: for many Londoners ‘Dunkirk-House’ (because it was believed to have been financed by Clarendon's proceeds from the sale) symbolized what was seen as the corruption and dynastic ambition of the chancellor. Corruption formed a large element of the charges against him in 1663 and 1667, and Clarendon had certainly gained from the bounty of the king and his officers and from new years' presents which ‘I could not refuse without some affectation’: beyond the gift of 1661, he had received several gifts of land and, like other prominent courtiers, had been provided with some profits out of the Irish land settlement. But he made much of his incorruptibility, and while he held a profitable office, there is no clear evidence of his benefiting improperly from it.

The Second Anglo-Dutch War and government collapse, 1664–1667

To one so exposed as Clarendon the political crisis engendered by the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1664–7 was highly dangerous. Clarendon had little time for the Dutch, whose politics he opposed and whose treatment of the royalists during the interregnum he resented; but he viewed the prospect of war—engineered by courtiers, merchants, and individuals keen to emulate the success of the English republic in the 1650s—with extreme misgiving. Nevertheless, he helped to choreograph the vote by the Commons of an unprecedented grant of money to permit preparations in late 1664, if only in the hope that it would persuade the Dutch to negotiate more seriously; and, once war was joined in earnest, he was as involved as anyone in the domestic and financial aspects of the government's war effort.

By September 1666 the plague, the fire, and an agricultural depression had contributed to a growing reluctance to contribute any more money towards the war, a reluctance which was fed by claims of large-scale corruption and encouraged by the duke of Buckingham in a campaign to become a leading minister. A government desperate to finance the war became deeply divided about the extent to which concessions might be offered in order to secure supply. Clarendon vehemently opposed the Irish Cattle Bill, intended to ease the problems of farmers, in part because it was designed expressly to deny the king any prerogative right to suspend it or dispense with it, and also an attempt by the government's critics to establish a statutory commission to review government finance, although he seems to have initiated the compromise offer of a royal commission to achieve the same object. Clarendon's hostility to concessions may have contributed to moves which were widely interpreted as testing the ground for impeachment proceedings against him—a challenge to the Canary Company's patent, and an impeachment against Viscount Mordaunt, the governor of Windsor Castle, in December 1666 and January 1667. Despite Clarendon's opposition the government finally accepted defeat on the Irish Cattle Bill at a meeting in mid-January in order to unblock essential grants of money. Clarendon dissented from the decision, but it largely achieved its purpose and enabled the government to end the session on 8 February.

The money came too late to allow the fitting out of a major fleet, and the government was forced to pin its hopes on an early conclusion of the peace conference which began at Breda in mid-May. The attack by the Dutch on the almost undefended Medway on 10–13 June produced panic in London: ‘they who remember that conjuncture’, wrote Clarendon with evident feeling:
and were then present in the galleries and privy lodgings at Whitehall, whither all the world flocked with equal liberty, can easily call to mind instances of such wild despair and even ridiculous apprehensions, that I am willing to forget, and would not that the least mention of them should remain. (Life, 2.418–19)
The political atmosphere, both in the country at large and in council, became extremely heated. The chancellor became the favourite object of public anger; at its height a gibbet was meaningfully set up outside his new house by a crowd of rioters. Desperate for money to mount a defence against further attack, the government considered recalling parliament; Clarendon advised against it, as it was unlikely to be of any practical value, and argued instead for a dissolution. In the meantime, before a new parliament could meet, he suggested a return to an old expedient—the forced loan, to be repaid later out of parliamentary subsidies.

Clarendon's advice was not taken, and parliament was summoned for 25 July. In the end it met only briefly before the news of the conclusion of the treaty of Breda allowed it to be dismissed, relieving the political crisis but adding significantly to parliament's sense of grievance. Clarendon was its most likely target: his suggestion of using prerogative powers to raise money had been widely reported, and (possibly because of a confusion with comments made by York) he was said to be in favour of rule by the military. The death of Southampton in late May had removed his one remaining significant ally from the heart of the government. When his wife died on 9 August 1667 Clarendon's strongly expressed grief seems to have fathered the suggestion that he should resign from his position. Clarendon refused, both because it would seriously reduce an income heavily charged with building debts, and because he had no wish to take responsibility for the débâcle of June. Over the following two weeks Clarendon's survival in government was the subject of intense discussion, York arguing with the king for his father-in-law's retention.

Clarendon's removal was only delayed. The king had certainly come to accept the view of Arlington and Coventry that parliament would be impossible to manage unless he had gone. But more significantly, his own relationship with the chancellor had deteriorated rapidly: stories circulating attributed the king's attitude both to his anger at a rumoured attempt by Clarendon to interfere with his choice of mistresses by arranging for Frances Stewart to be married to the duke of Richmond, and to a more generalized irritation with the extent to which Clarendon's exercise of the role of chief adviser compromised his own command of his government. In a long interview with the king Clarendon may only have compounded his offence by emphasizing the need to assert royal authority: he drew a parallel with the reign of Richard II, ‘when they terrified the King with the power and the purposes of the Parliament, till they brought him to consent to that from which he could not redeem himself, and without which they could have done him no harm’ (Life, 2.451). On 30 August 1667 the king sent the secretary of state, Sir William Morrice, to collect the seals.

Impeachment and exile, 1667–1674

Impeachment proceedings against Clarendon were widely expected when parliament sat again in October, but it was only the king's mounting hostility that made them serious. Clarendon prepared his defence against the coming storm with his old energy, and the continued loyalty of the duke of York to his father-in-law began to convert Clarendon's personal struggle into a more dangerous confrontation between the two royal brothers. When parliament met on 10 October the king made the dismissal of his chancellor his principal peace-offering, and privately pressed for an impeachment. The first accusations were presented in the Commons on 26 October. Clarendon's support there turned out to be far larger than anticipated, but on 11 November a set of charges, including one of high treason, was presented to the Lords. There the support of the duke of York and the bishops helped Clarendon to avoid committal to the Tower, and occasioned an escalation of the factional dispute and an enormous procedural row between the two houses. Various possibilities for overcoming the deadlock were suggested, including—ominously for Clarendon—the prorogation of parliament and the removal of the prosecution into the court of the lord steward.

Until this moment Clarendon had been confident that he could defend himself, but he recognized the difficulty of a trial before a picked jury. Having received two strong hints from the king to leave, on 30 November he accepted defeat and embarked for France, possibly hoping that compliance with the king's demand and a temporary exile might permit his later return. The news of his departure broke after the weekend, when his son Lord Cornbury [see ] presented to the Lords Clarendon's lengthy and defiant petition, written in transit to France. In fact, Clarendon's departure was regarded in most quarters as damaging to his case, and in some as proving his guilt. Although a bill of attainder was avoided, by Christmas the king had given his assent to a bill banishing Clarendon for life unless he returned by the beginning of February 1668.

Initially treated with respect by the French government, Clarendon headed first for Rouen, an old haunt of English exiles during the civil war. Within a week or two, however, the attitude of the French changed and he was ordered to leave. Clarendon expressed an intention to return to England in obedience to the Act of Banishment, but the onset of gout made it impossible to do so immediately. By the time he had found his way to Calais it was too late to return under the act, and he was too ill. He was not well enough to travel again until March, by which time Louis XIV's relations with Charles II had cooled considerably, and he was willing to allow Clarendon to pass through France on his way to the papal enclave of Avignon. On the way, at Évreux, he was assaulted and badly beaten by a group of drunken English sailors who held him responsible for their arrears of pay. He did not arrive at Avignon until about the middle of June. In July he was allowed to move on to Montpellier, a popular resort with the English.

At Montpellier, Clarendon settled into a routine of writing, reading, and meditation, which recalled his time in Jersey in the 1640s. Very soon after his arrival he wrote a detailed refutation of the impeachment charges; almost at the same time, he had begun to write an account of his own life. The latter became a franker version of the History—a less accurate one, for Clarendon had brought little, if any, documentary material with him; but as it did not have to act as an official defence of the conduct of Charles I, it emphasized even more than the History had done the mistakes in royalist policy and anatomized with some relish the character failings of many of the principal actors, particularly those—Bristol and Berkeley—who had become his enemies. The Life was completed in August 1670, at least as far as the Restoration. Clarendon had returned in December 1668 to the devotional writing that he had begun in Jersey: his drafts for ‘Contemplations and reflections upon the Psalms of David’ were sent to him by mistake instead of other papers he had requested, and he completed that work by February 1671. He also had time to complete a sustained critique of Hobbes's Leviathan in which he set out his objections to ‘conclusions, which overthrow or undermine all those principles of government, which have preserved the peace of this kingdom through so many ages, even from the time of its first institution’ (E. Hyde, earl of Clarendon, A Brief View and Survey of the Dangerous and Pernicious Errors to Church and State, in Mr. Hobbes's Book Entitled Leviathan, 1676, 6).

Despite the contentment that his retirement at Montpellier brought him, Clarendon still cherished hopes of returning home. In the spring of 1671 he secured permission from Louis XIV to move further north, closer to England. He settled at Moulins in the heart of France, where in June he was able to meet his second son, . Laurence brought with him some of his father's papers, including, probably, the original drafts of the History. Clarendon set to work to merge it with the Life he had just completed—plus some additions—to create a full account of events from the accession of Charles I to the Restoration; after he had finished the task in early 1672 he continued the Life up to the present. In 1674 he turned to writing against Rome, perhaps especially because of the distressing news that his daughter, the duchess of York, had been converted. His response to the Catholic Hugh Cressy's attack on Stillingfleet's description of the Roman Catholic church as fanatical was published anonymously in England in November that year. He then wrote, remarkably, a long history of the growth of papal temporal power, which he had finished by February 1674. A visit of his elder son, Henry, Viscount Cornbury, possibly in 1673 or very early in 1674, and permission to move further north still, to Rouen, in the summer of 1674 may have suggested that the hostility of the king was beginning to fade. Clarendon began to believe that a return from exile could be imminent. But at Rouen in December he suffered a stroke; he died there on 9 December.

Royalism and conservatism

Clarendon's body was returned to London and was buried privately in Westminster Abbey on 4 January 1675. A year later his Brief View and Survey of Hobbes's Leviathan was published at Oxford—a sign, perhaps, of the revival of Anglican royalist fortunes from the mid-1670s. The remainder of Clarendon's manuscripts remained unpublished for more than twenty-five years, although his sons allowed certain politically sympathetic individuals—among them Archbishop Sancroft—to see them. The first volume of the History of the Rebellion, the text put together in 1671–2 out of the History and the Life, was not published until 1702, after the accession to the throne of Clarendon's granddaughter, Anne. Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, contributed a carefully nuanced defence of his father to the first volume; by the time the second and third volumes were published in 1704, Rochester's dismissal from government made him give a more partisan, tory edge to their dedications to the queen. Some whigs rose to the tory agenda revealed in the dedications. One in particular—John Oldmixon—sustained for more than twenty years his attack on the History's veracity, with repeated claims that the text had been tampered with by a knot of high tories at Christ Church, Oxford. The identification of Clarendon with his tory defenders encouraged whigs for the remainder of the century to regard him as a sower of discord, rather than a promoter of unity, a view which the publication in 1759 of the Life did nothing to dispel. A more common reaction to the History, though, was to see in its moderate version of the royalist cause a sort of tory precursor to the 1688–9 revolution settlement. But to the more progressive nineteenth-century interpreters of the history of the constitution—Macaulay, or Gardiner—such praise appeared seriously misconceived. Clarendon's resistance to the development of parliamentary government was the work of a Canute who had no grasp of the processes of historical change. Brian Wormald's subtle analysis of 1951 did something to refurbish the moderate tory view. He emphasized the efforts Clarendon had made in the 1640s to achieve a political settlement: his role had been that of a ‘bridge builder’ between king and parliament, although his attitude towards concessions had hardened after the king's defeat. Nor had he been a prominent defender of the church until after a similar point.

Clarendon had undoubtedly recognized in 1640–41 the threat that existed to the liberty and property of the subject and contributed to efforts to redress it. Even in 1647, writing his will, he proudly claimed to have always ‘endeavoured to observe the bounds between the King's power and the subject's right’ (Clarendon State Papers, 1.370–71). Those bounds were set by law, the proper observation and administration of which was—as the history of the ship-money case amply demonstrated—fundamental to the achievement of political stability: ‘all governments subsist and are established by firmness and constancy, by every man's knowing what is his right to enjoy, and what is his duty to do’ (Clarendon, Brief View … Leviathan, 1676, 124). The effect, though, of so insistent a stress on the constitution as an intricate balance of law and prerogative was to make constitutional growth and development exceptionally difficult. Temporary relaxation of laws might be permitted if absolutely necessary, but anything more than that had the potential to upset the entire structure, and there is no evidence that Clarendon favoured anything but small and temporary concessions to parliamentary opposition throughout the period from 1640 to 1667. His main purpose in encouraging negotiations throughout the 1640s was not to try to forge a compromise settlement, but to open up divisions inside parliament and to encourage the defections of the more moderate parliamentarians—an activity which could be seen as attempting to reunite a broken political élite.

For Clarendon the church formed a part of that constitution, and to his commitment to episcopacy and a uniformity of religious practice Anglicanism owed something of its survival and post-war reconstruction. Yet to his clerical allies Clarendon's commitment was less than total, as from time to time he seemed to be regrettably willing to subordinate ecclesiastical aims to political objectives and to offer presbyterians some concessions in liturgy and ceremonial. Great Tew had drawn with it an association with a rationalist approach to religion and a recognition of the indifference of much religious practice which seemed to go with a tolerant view of the ecclesiastical polity, and though he was sympathetic to a Laudian approach to liturgy and ceremonial there is no evidence that Clarendon regarded their imposition as especially important. But as with his attitudes in constitutional law, Clarendon saw a fundamental stability in the ecclesiastical laws as essential to their survival, and his acceptance of compromise was limited to temporary relaxations which might encourage eventual compliance and outward uniformity.

Clarendon liked to assume that, with time, circumstances could be altered to fit the law and the constitution, rather than the other way round. It was perhaps as unrealistic a view as his whig critics claimed, and Clarendon compounded it as he mourned, but did not accept, the passing of a unitary, pre-war political and social world:
the nation was corrupted from that integrity, good nature and generosity, that had been peculiar to it, and for which it had been signal and celebrated throughout the world; in the room whereof the vilest craft and dissembling had succeeded. (Life, 1.307)
But if it is unsustainable to argue, as Wormald contended, that it was ‘Hyde's conception of the constitution rather than that of anybody else which did come to be permanently adopted after the Revolution of 1688’ (Wormald, 152–3), Clarendon's development of a secular royalist ideology, which depended little on the divine right of kings and set them firmly within a framework of law, did provide a key to the way in which royal power could ultimately be reconciled with parliamentary control—albeit within a constitution which Clarendon himself would no longer regard as monarchical.

That legacy was ultimately more important than Clarendon's political achievement. For although his confidence in his own prescriptions for a royalist strategy and his capacity for hard work which made him dominate royalist counsels in the 1650s and early 1660s were among the factors which helped the royalist cause to survive throughout the interregnum, that lawyerly confidence went with a prickliness and a lack of political art which were almost legendary. The earl of Norwich—a political ally in the 1650s—complained that his ‘overvallewing himselfe and undervallewing others, together with his grasping at too much, hath and will, if it be still permitted, bring irrecoverable inconveniences, if not ruin, to affaires’ (Warner, 2.279). Clarendon wrote proudly of the occasion on which Queen Henrietta Maria said that he was ‘so far from making promises, or giving fair words, and flattering her, that she did verily believe that “if he thought her a whore he would tell her of it”’ (Life, 1.225); but such forthrightness was a liability in court politics, a sphere which Clarendon could never master and which played a large part in his undoing.

But still more than for his political role or his intellectual legacy, Clarendon remained in the mind because of his literary achievement—the fashioning of the most sophisticated and finely balanced history yet written in English (or written for a long time afterwards)—and for an unmistakable rhetorical voice. Clarendon's writings—and his own life—were steeped in the literary stoicism of the early seventeenth century; but in the History he created a distinctive work of art based on a highly wrought style, a forensic dissection of character and issue, and a sense of the depth of individuals' moral responsibility for their actions: a description of:
the pride of this man, and the popularity of that; the levity of one, and the morosity of another; the excess of the court in the greatest want, and the parsimony and retention of the country in the greatest plenty; the spirit of craft and subtlety in some, and the rude and unpolished integrity of others, too much despising craft or art; like so many atoms contributing jointly to this mass of confusion now before us. (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.4)

Paul Seaward


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BL, corresp. and papers, Add. MSS 10614, 14269, 32093–32094, 33233, 34727 · BL, MS ‘A short view of the state of Ireland 1640 to the present time’, Egerton MS 1625 · Bodl. Oxf., corresp. and papers · CUL, copies of ‘View of the state of Ireland’ · Longleat House, Wiltshire, family corresp. and related material · NRA, corresp. and literary papers |  BL, papers relating to impeachment, Harley MSS · Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with Sir Henry Coventry and Lord Holles · Bodl. Oxf., letters to Gilbert Sheldon · Herts. ALS, corresp. with Sir H. Grimstone · Leics. RO, corresp. with earl of Winchilsea · St John Cam., corresp. with John Barwick · Valence House Museum, Dagenham, letters to Sir R. Fanshawe


oils, c.1648–1655 (after A. Hanneman), Clarendon collection [see illus.] · P. Lely, oils, c.1660–1665, Bodl. Oxf. · T. Simon, silver medal, 1662, NPG · D. Loggan, line engraving, 1666, BM, NPG · R. Dunkarton, mezzotint, pubd 1812 (after D. Loggan), NPG · M. Burghers, line engraving (after P. Lely), BM, NPG · T. Johnson, mezzotint (after G. Soest), BM, NPG · R. White, line engraving (after P. Lely), BM · oils (after P. Lely, c.1660–1665), Clarendon collection; on loan to Palace of Westminster, London; copy, Middle Temple, London · oils (after A. Hanneman), second version, NPG

Wealth at death  

two houses in London, land in Wiltshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, and Rutland, plus money and other gifts totalling £15,600, and a legacy of £200 a year: will, 1666, Bodl. Oxf., Clarendon MS 83, fols. 35–42