Edward VIII abdicates


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Year
1936
Month Day
December 11

After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. On the evening of December 11, he gave a radio address in which he explained, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” On December 12, his younger brother, the duke of York, was proclaimed King George VI.

Edward, born in 1894, was the eldest son of King George V, who became the British sovereign in 1910. Still unmarried as he approached his 40th birthday, he socialized with the fashionable London society of the day. By 1934, he had fallen deeply in love with American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was married to Ernest Simpson, an English-American businessman who lived with Mrs. Simpson near London. Wallis, who was born in Pennsylvania, had previously married and divorced a U.S. Navy pilot. The royal family disapproved of Edward’s married mistress, but by 1936 the prince was intent on marrying Mrs. Simpson. Before he could discuss this intention with his father, George V died, in January 1936, and Edward was proclaimed king.

The new king proved popular with his subjects, and his coronation was scheduled for May 1937. His affair with Mrs. Simpson was reported in American and continental European newspapers, but due to a gentlemen’s agreement between the British press and the government, the affair was kept out of British newspapers. On October 27, 1936, Mrs. Simpson obtained a preliminary decree of divorce, presumably with the intent of marrying the king, which precipitated a major scandal. To the Church of England and most British politicians, an American woman twice divorced was unacceptable as a prospective British queen. Winston Churchill, then a Conservative backbencher, was the only notable politician to support Edward.

Despite the seemingly united front against him, Edward could not be dissuaded. He proposed a morganatic marriage, in which Wallis would be granted no rights of rank or property, but on December 2, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin rejected the suggestion as impractical. The next day, the scandal broke on the front pages of British newspapers and was discussed openly in Parliament. With no resolution possible, the king renounced the throne on December 10. The next day, Parliament approved the abdication instrument, and Edward VIII’s reign came to an end. The new king, George VI, made his older brother the duke of Windsor. On June 3, 1937, the duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield married at the Château de Cande in France’s Loire Valley.

For the next two years, the duke and duchess lived primarily in France but visited other European countries, including Germany, where the duke was honored by Nazi officials in October 1937 and met with Adolf Hitler. After the outbreak of World War II, the duke accepted a position as liaison officer with the French. In June 1940, France fell to the Nazis, and Edward and Wallis went to Spain. During this period, the Nazis concocted a scheme to kidnap Edward with the intention of returning him to the British throne as a puppet king. George VI, like his prime minister, Winston Churchill, was adamantly opposed to any peace with Nazi Germany. Unaware of the Nazi kidnapping plot but conscious of Edward’s pre-war Nazi sympathies, Churchill hastily offered Edward the governorship of the Bahamas in the West Indies. The duke and duchess set sail from Lisbon on August 1, 1940, narrowly escaping a Nazi SS team sent to seize them.

In 1945, the duke resigned his post, and the couple moved back to France. They lived mainly in Paris, and Edward made a few visits to England, such as to attend the funerals of King George VI in 1952 and his mother, Queen Mary, in 1953. It was not until 1967 that the duke and duchess were invited by the royal family to attend an official public ceremony, the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Queen Mary. Edward died in Paris in 1972 but was buried at Frogmore, on the grounds of Windsor Castle. In 1986, Wallis died and was buried at his side.

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Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, is executed

Year
1536
Month Day
May 19

On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn, the infamous second wife of King Henry VIII, is executed on charges including adultery, incest and conspiracy against the king.

READ MORE: Who Were the Six Wives of Henry VIII?

Catherine of Aragon

King Henry had become enamored of Anne Boleyn in the mid-1520s, when she returned from serving in the French court and became a lady-in-waiting to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Dark-haired, with an olive complexion and a long, elegant neck, Anne was not said to be a great beauty, but she clearly captivated the king. As Catherine had failed to produce a male heir, Henry transferred his hopes for the future continuation of his royal line to Anne, and set about getting a divorce or annulment so he could marry her.

For six years, while his advisers worked on what became known as “the King’s great matter,” Henry and Anne courted first discreetly, then openly—angering Catherine and her powerful allies, including her nephew, Emperor Charles V.

In 1532, the savvy and ruthless Thomas Cromwell won control of the king’s council and engineered a daring revolution—a break with the Catholic Church, and Henry’s installation as supreme head of the Church of England. Many unhappy Britons blamed Anne, whose sympathies lay with England’s Protestant reformers even before the Church’s steadfast opposition turned her against it.

Jane Seymour

At Queen Anne’s coronation in June 1533, she was nearly six months pregnant, and in September she gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth, rather than the much-longed-for male heir. She later had two stillborn children, and suffered a miscarriage in January 1536; the fetus appeared to be male.

By that time, Anne’s relationship with Henry had soured, and he had his eye on her lady-in-waiting, the demure Jane Seymour.

After Anne’s latest miscarriage, and the death of Catherine that same month, rumors began flying that Henry wanted to get rid of Anne so he could marry Jane. (Had he attempted to annul his second marriage while Catherine was still alive, it would have raised speculation that his first marriage was valid after all.)

Henry had apparently convinced himself that Anne had seduced him by witchcraft, and also told Cromwell (Anne’s former ally, now her rival for power in Henry’s court) that he wanted to take steps towards repairing relations with Emperor Charles.

Arrest and Imprisonment 

Seeing Anne’s weak position, her many enemies jumped at the chance to bring about the downfall of “the Concubine,” and launched an investigation that compiled evidence against her.

After Mark Smeaton, a court musician, confessed (possibly under torture) that he had committed adultery with the queen, the drama was set in motion at the May Day celebration at the king’s riverside palace at Greenwich.

King Henry left suddenly in the middle of the day’s jousting tournament, which featured Anne’s brother George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, and Sir Henry Norris, one of the king’s closest friends and a royal officer in his household. He gave no explanation for his departure to Queen Anne, whom he would never see again.

In quick succession, Norris and Rochford were both arrested on charges of adultery with the queen (incest, in Rochford’s case) and plotting with her against her husband. Sir Frances Weston and Sir William Brereton were arrested in the following days on similar charges, while Queen Anne herself was taken into custody at Greenwich on May 2.

Duke of Norfolk 

Led before the investigators (chief among them her own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk) to hear the charges of “evil behavior” against her, she was subsequently imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The trial of Smeaton, Weston, Brereton and Norris took place in Westminster Hall on May 12. At the conclusion of the trial, the court sentenced all four men to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Three days later, Anne and her brother, Lord Rochford, went on trial in the Great Hall of the Tower of London.

The Duke of Norfolk presided over the trial as lord high steward, representing the king. The most damning evidence against Rochford was the testimony of his own jealous wife, who claimed “undue familiarity” between him and his sister.

Trial of Anne Boleyn

As for Anne, most historians agree she was almost certainly not guilty of the charges against her. She never admitted to any wrongdoing, the evidence against her was weak and it seems highly unlikely she would have endangered her position by adultery or conspiring to harm the king, whose favor she depended upon so greatly.

Still, Anne and Rochford were found guilty as charged, and Norfolk pronounced the sentence: Both were to be burnt or executed according to the king’s wishes.

On May 17, the five condemned men were executed on Tower Hill, but Henry showed mercy to his queen, calling in the “hangman of Calais” so that she could be beheaded with the sword rather than the axe.

Anne Boleyn Execution 

On the morning of May 19, a small crowd gathered on Tower Green as Anne Boleyn—clad in a dark grey gown and ermine mantle, her hair covered by a headdress over a white linen coif—approached her final fate.

After begging to be allowed to address the crowd, Anne spoke simply: “Masters, I here humbly submit me to the law as the law hath judged me, and as for mine offences, I here accuse no man. God knoweth them; I remit them to God, beseeching Him to have mercy on my soul.” Finally, she asked Jesus Christ to “save my sovereign and master the King, the most godly, noble and gentle Prince that is, and long to reign over you.”

With a swift blow from the executioner’s sword, Anne Boleyn was dead. Less than 24 hours later, Henry was formally betrothed to Jane Seymour; they married some 10 days after the execution.

While Queen Jane did give birth to the long-awaited son, who would succeed Henry as King Edward VI at the tender age of nine, it would be his daughter with Anne Boleyn who would go on to rule England for more than 40 years as the most celebrated Tudor monarch: Queen Elizabeth I.

Sources

Antonia Fraser, The Wives of Henry VIII (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992).
Alison Weir, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn (New York: Ballantine Books, 2010).

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Britain’s Prince William weds Kate Middleton

Year
2011
Month Day
April 29

On April 29, 2011, Great Britain’s Prince William marries his longtime girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London. Some 1,900 guests attended the ceremony, while another 1 million spectators lined the streets of London and an estimated 2 billion people around the world watched on television.

The 29-year-old bride and 28-year-old groom, second in line (behind his father) to the throne, met in 2001 as students at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. Middleton, the eldest of three children, was raised in the English village of Bucklebury. Her parents, former flight attendants, became millionaires running a successful party-supply business. Middleton majored in art history at St. Andrews and went on to do a stint as an accessories buyer for a British clothing chain. Prince William, the elder of two sons born to Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, embarked on a military career after college, eventually becoming a helicopter search-and-rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF). His parent’s lavish 1981 wedding was a media sensation witnessed by a global television estimated as high as 750 million; however, in December 1992, it was announced the couple was separating. The couple, who publicly admitted to infidelities during their marriage, officially divorced in 1996. Diana died in a car crash in Paris the following year.

READ MORE: Glorious Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Queen Elizabeth’s 1947 Wedding

After dating for eight years, William and Kate became engaged in October 2010 while vacationing in Kenya, Africa. Their engagement was publicly announced the following month, on November 16, ending years of media speculation about whether they ever would tie the knot—and immediately kicking off a new wave of speculation about the wedding details, including the guest list and the bride’s dress.

At their Friday morning marriage ceremony on April 29, the bride wore a gown designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, a British fashion house, while the groom donned the scarlet tunic of an Irish Guards officer. Middleton’s younger sister, Pippa, served as maid of honor, while William’s brother, Prince Harry, was best man. The nuptials were presided over by the archbishop of Canterbury, with world leaders and celebrities including Elton John and David and Victoria Beckham in attendance. After the ceremony, the newlyweds kissed twice on a Buckingham Palace balcony before hundreds of thousands of cheering fans. Overhead, RAF planes made a ceremonial flyby. An afternoon reception at the palace presided over by Queen Elizabeth for some 650 guests followed, and that evening, Prince Charles hosted a dinner dance at the palace for 300 people.

The couple, who once married became the duke and duchess of Cambridge, honeymooned in the Seychelles, before returning to Wales, where William resumed his duties as a helicopter pilot.

On July 22, 2013, the duchess gave birth to the couple’s first child, George, who is third in line to the throne. She gave birth to Princess Charlotte on May 2, 2015 and to Prince Louis on April 23, 2018.

READ MORE: Not Every Royal Wedding is the Stuff of Fairytales

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Duke of Windsor weds American socialite

Year
1937
Month Day
June 03

In France, the duke of Windsor—formerly King Edward VIII of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—marries Wallis Warfield, a divorced American socialite for whom he abdicated the British throne in December 1936.

Edward, born in 1896, was the eldest son of King George V, who became the British sovereign in 1910. He served as a staff officer during World War I and in the 1920s made extensive goodwill trips abroad as Prince of Wales, a title bestowed on male heirs to the British throne. During the Depression, he helped organize work programs for the nation’s unemployed and was highly regarded by the public in the years leading up to his father’s death.

READ MORE: The Scandalous Romance That May Have Saved the British Monarchy

Edward, still unmarried as he approached his 40th birthday, socialized with the fashionable London society of the day and frequently entertained at Fort Belvedere, his country home. By 1934, he had fallen deeply in love with American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was married to Ernest Simpson, an English-American businessman who lived with Mrs. Simpson near London. Wallis, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1896 and brought up in Maryland, had previously married and divorced a U.S. Navy pilot. The royal family disapproved of Edward’s married mistress, but by 1936 the prince was intent on marrying Mrs. Simpson. Before he could discuss this intention with his father, George V died on January 20, 1936, and Edward was proclaimed king.

The new king proved popular with his subjects, and his coronation was scheduled for May 1937. His affair with Mrs. Simpson was reported in American and continental European newspapers, but due to a gentlemen’s agreement between the British press and the government, the affair was kept out of British newspapers. On October 27, 1936, Mrs. Simpson obtained a preliminary decree of divorce, presumably with the intent of marrying the king, precipitating a major scandal. To the Church of England and most British politicians, an American woman twice divorced was unacceptable as a prospective British queen. Winston Churchill, then a Conservative backbencher, was the only notable politician to support Edward.

Despite the seemingly united front against him, Edward could not be dissuaded. He proposed a morganatic marriage, in which Wallis would be granted no rights of rank or property, but Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin rejected this as impractical on December 2. The next day, the scandal broke on the front pages of British newspapers and was discussed openly in Parliament. With no resolution possible, the king renounced the throne on December 10. The next day, Parliament approved the abdication instrument, and Edward VIII’s 325-day reign came to an end. That evening, the former king gave a radio broadcast in which he explained: “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of King, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” On December 12, his younger brother, the duke of York, was proclaimed King George VI. That day, the new king made his older brother the duke of Windsor.

By that time, Edward had already left for Austria, where he lived with friends apart from Mrs. Simpson as her divorce proceedings progressed. Her divorce became final in May 1937, and she had her name legally changed back to Wallis Warfield. On June 3, 1937, the duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield married at the Chateau de Cande in France’s Loire Valley. A Church of England clergyman conducted the service, which was witnessed by only about 16 guests. Wallis was now the duchess of Windsor, but King George, under pressure from his ministers, denied her the title of “royal highness” enjoyed by her husband.

For the next two years, the duke and duchess lived primarily in France but visited other European countries, including Germany, where the duke was honored by Nazi officials in October 1937 and met with Adolf Hitler. After the outbreak of World War II, the duke accepted a position as liaison officer with the French. In June 1940, France fell to the Nazis, and Edward and Wallis went to Spain. During this period, the Nazis concocted a scheme to kidnap Edward with the intention of returning him to the British throne as a puppet king. George VI, like his prime minister, Winston Churchill, was adamantly opposed to any peace with Nazi Germany. Unaware of the Nazi kidnapping plot but conscious of Edward’s pre-war Nazi sympathies, Churchill hastily offered Edward the governorship of the Bahamas in the West Indies. The duke and duchess set sail from Lisbon on August 1, 1940, narrowly escaping a Nazi SS team sent to seize them.

In 1945, the duke resigned his post, and the couple moved back to France. They lived mainly in Paris, and Edward made a few visits to England, such as to attend the funerals of King George VI in 1952 and his mother, Queen Mary, in 1953. It was not until 1967 that the duke and duchess were invited by the royal family to attend an official public ceremony, the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Queen Mary. Edward died in Paris in 1972 but was buried at Frogmore, on the grounds of Windsor Castle. In 1986, Wallis died and was buried at his side. 

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Separation of Charles and Diana announced


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Year
1992
Month Day
December 09

British Prime Minister John Major announces the formal separation of Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, and his wife, Princess Diana. Major explained that the royal couple were separating “amicably.” The report came after several years of speculation by the tabloid press that the marriage was in peril, citing evidence that Diana and Charles spent vacations apart and official visits in separate rooms.

On July 29, 1981, nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tuned in to witness the marriage of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to Lady Diana Spencer, a young English schoolteacher. Married in a grand ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of 2,650 guests, the couple’s romance was, for the moment, the envy of the world. Their first child, Prince William, was born in 1982, and their second, Prince Harry, in 1984.

READ MORE: The Hidden Dark Side of Charles and Diana’s Relationship

Before long, however, the fairy tale couple grew apart, an experience that was particularly painful under the watchful eyes of the world’s tabloid media. Diana and Charles separated in 1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties. In August 1996, two months after Queen Elizabeth II urged the couple to divorce, the prince and princess reached a final agreement. In exchange for a generous settlement, and the right to retain her apartments at Kensington Palace and her title of “Princess of Wales,” Diana agreed to relinquish the title of “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne.

In the year following the divorce, the popular princess seemed well on her way to achieving her dream of becoming “a queen in people’s hearts,” but on August 31, 1997, she was killed with her companion Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. An investigation conducted by the French police concluded that the driver, who also died in the crash, was heavily intoxicated and caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.

Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, on April 9, 2005.

READ MORE: The Final Years of Princess Diana

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The death of Guy Fawkes


Year
1606
Month Day
January 31

At Westminster in London, Guy Fawkes, a chief conspirator in the plot to blow up the British Parliament building, jumps to his death moments before his execution for treason.

On the eve of a general parliamentary session scheduled for November 5, 1605, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar of the Parliament building. Fawkes was detained and the premises thoroughly searched. Nearly two tons of gunpowder were found hidden within the cellar. In his interrogation, Fawkes revealed that he was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy organized by Robert Catesby to annihilate England’s entire Protestant government, including King James I. The king was to have attended Parliament on November 5.

Over the next few months, English authorities killed or captured all of the conspirators in the “Gunpowder Plot” but also arrested, tortured, or killed dozens of innocent English Catholics. After a brief trial, Guy Fawkes was sentenced, along with the other surviving chief conspirators, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. On January 30, 1606, the gruesome public executions began in London, and on January 31 Fawkes was called to meet his fate. While climbing to the hanging platform, however, he jumped from the ladder and broke his neck, dying instantly.

In remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated across Great Britain every year on the fifth of November. As dusk falls in the evening, villagers and city dwellers across Britain light bonfires, set off fireworks, and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, celebrating his failure to blow up Parliament and James I.

READ MORE: Guy Fawkes Day: A Brief History

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Mary Queen of Scots defeated

Year
1568
Month Day
May 13

At the Battle of Langside, the forces of Mary Queen of Scots are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, the regent of her son, King James VI of Scotland. During the battle, which was fought out in the southern suburbs of Glasgow, a cavalry charge routed Mary’s 6,000 Catholic troops, and they fled the field. Three days later, Mary escaped to Cumberland, England, where she sought protection from Queen Elizabeth I.

READ MORE: The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her great-uncle was Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England. Mary’s mother sent her to be raised in the French court, and in 1558 she married the French dauphin, who became King Francis II of France in 1559 and died in 1560. After Francis’ death, Mary returned to Scotland to assume her designated role as the country’s monarch. In 1565, she married her English cousin Lord Darnley, another Tudor, which reinforced her claim to the English throne and angered Queen Elizabeth.

In 1567, Darnley was mysteriously killed in an explosion at Kirk o’ Field, and Mary’s lover, James Hepburn, the earl of Bothwell, was the key suspect. Although Bothwell was acquitted of the charge, his marriage to Mary in the same year enraged the nobility, and Mary was forced to abdicate in favor of her son by Darnley, James. In 1568, she escaped from captivity and raised a substantial army but was defeated and fled to England. Queen Elizabeth I initially welcomed Mary but was soon forced to put her cousin under house arrest after Mary became the focus of various English Catholic and Spanish plots to overthrow her.

In 1586, a major Catholic plot to murder Elizabeth was uncovered, and Mary was brought to trial, convicted for complicity, and sentenced to death. On February 8, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason at Fotheringhay Castle in England. Her son, King James VI of Scotland, calmly accepted his mother’s execution, and upon Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he became James I, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

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King Charles I executed for treason


Year
1649
Month Day
January 30

In London, King Charles I is beheaded for treason on January 30, 1649.

Charles ascended to the English throne in 1625 following the death of his father, King James I. In the first year of his reign, Charles offended his Protestant subjects by marrying Henrietta Maria, a Catholic French princess. He later responded to political opposition to his rule by dissolving Parliament on several occasions and in 1629 decided to rule entirely without Parliament. In 1642, the bitter struggle between king and Parliament for supremacy led to the outbreak of the first English civil war.

The Parliamentarians were led by Oliver Cromwell, whose formidable Ironsides force won an important victory against the king’s Royalist forces at Marston Moor in 1644 and at Naseby in 1645. As a leader of the New Model Army in the second English civil war, Cromwell helped repel the Royalist invasion of Scotland, and in 1646 Charles surrendered to a Scottish army. In 1648, Charles was forced to appear before a high court controlled by his enemies, where he was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. Early in the next year, he was beheaded.

The monarchy was abolished, and Cromwell assumed control of the new English Commonwealth. In 1658, Cromwell died and was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard, who was forced to flee to France in the next year with the restoration of the monarchy and the crowning of Charles II, the son of Charles I. Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason, and his body was disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn.

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Archbishop Thomas Becket is murdered


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Year
1170
Month Day
December 29

Archbishop Thomas Becket is brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II of England, apparently on orders of the king.

In 1155, Henry II appointed Becket as chancellor, a high post in the English government. Becket proved a skilled diplomat and won the trust of Henry, who nominated him as archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. The king hoped his friend would help in his efforts to curb the growing power of the church. However, soon after his consecration, the new archbishop emerged a zealous defender of the jurisdiction of the church over its own affairs. In 1164, Becket was forced to flee to France under fear of retaliation by the king.

He was later reconciled with Henry and in 1170 returned to Canterbury amid great public rejoicing. Soon afterward, against the objections of the pope, Henry had his son crowned co-king by the archbishop of York, and tensions again came to a head between Becket and Henry. At this time, perhaps merely in a moment of frustration, the king issued to his court the following public plea: “What a parcel of fools and dastards have I nourished in my house, and not one of them will avenge me of this one upstart clerk.” A group of Henry’s knights took the statement very seriously, and on December 29, Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Christian world was shocked by Becket’s death, and in 1173 he was canonized a Catholic saint. In 1174, Henry was forced to do penance at his tomb, and his efforts to end the separation between church and state ceased. In 1220, Becket’s bones were transferred to Trinity Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral, which later became a popular site of English religious pilgrimage.

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The English Restoration begins

Year
1660
Month Day
May 25

Under invitation by leaders of the English Commonwealth, Charles II, the exiled king of England, lands at Dover, England, to assume the throne and end 11 years of military rule.

Prince of Wales at the time of the English Civil War, Charles fled to France after Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians defeated King Charles I’s Royalists in 1646. In 1649, Charles vainly attempted to save his father’s life by presenting Parliament a signed blank sheet of paper, thereby granting whatever terms were required. However, Oliver Cromwell was determined to execute Charles I, and on January 30, 1649, the king was beheaded in London.

After his father’s death, Charles was proclaimed king of England by the Scots and by supporters in parts of Ireland and England, and he traveled to Scotland to raise an army. In 1651, Charles invaded England but was defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester. Charles escaped to France and later lived in exile in Germany and then in the Spanish Netherlands. After Cromwell’s death in 1658, the English republican experiment faltered. Cromwell’s son Richard proved an ineffectual leader, and the public resented the strict Puritanism of England’s military rulers.

In 1660, in what is known as the English Restoration, General George Monck met with Charles and arranged to restore him in exchange for a promise of amnesty and religious toleration for his former enemies. On May 25, 1660, Charles landed at Dover and four days later entered London in triumph. It was his 30th birthday, and London rejoiced at his arrival. In the first year of the Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously convicted of treason and his body disinterred from its tomb in Westminster Abbey and hanged from the gallows at Tyburn.

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