Declaration at Breda - Treaty with Charles II 19 Mar-1May 1650

Breda in Holland was the venue for discussions in 1650 between the newly succeeded King Charles II ( his father having been executed 30 January 1649) and Commissioners from Scotland. Breda was also the location ten years later when Charles made his declaration about the terms on which he accepted the English and Scottish crowns at the Restoration.

The Scots resented the execution of Charles I, and on 5 February 1649 declared his son the lawful heir to the thrones of Great Britain, France and Ireland.  The delegation of the Commission of the Kirk sent in 1650 to see Charles at Breda in Holland, consisted of ministers John Livingstone, James Wood and George Hutcheson, with the Earl of Cassilis and Alexander Brodie of Brodie as elders. Representing the Estates were Cassillis, Lothian, Brodie, Sir John Smith and Alexander Jaffray, Provost of Aberdeen. Hopeful that their demands might be moderate, Charles found them to be very tough. The Presbyterian zealots then in power refused to budge on the requirement to swear the Covenants and to settle a Presbyterian system in England and Ireland. He was also required to enforce penal laws against papists. For five weeks he sought to mitigate the worst conditions but in the end gave way and signed a draft agreement on 1 May 1650.

Howie`s Scots Worthies gives an interesting view of the Breda visit through the eyes of John Livingstone who was rightly suspicious of King Charles` motives and honesty. He had seen the King and his chaplains still using the Service Book and Charles himself bawdily carousing. Livingstone perceived that only grief could come of the mission and sought a delay. This was because he recognised the King`s hypocrisy in accepting the Covenants “without any evidence of any reall change in his heart, and without forsaking former principles, counsels and company “. Livingstone was over ruled. Perhaps most damning but a valid, and no doubt truthful comment, was that of Alexander Jaffray who wrote in his Diary that

" We did both sinfully entangle and engage ourselves and that poor young Prince to whom we were sent: making him sign and swear a Covenant which we know from clear and demonstrable reasons that he hated at his heart. Yet that upon these terms only he could be admitted  to rule over us - all other means having failed him - he sinfully complied with what we most sinfully  pressed upon him: - Where I must confess, to my apprehension  our sin was more than his."

Jaffray,his Northern compatriot Alexander Brodie, and Hutcheson had seen that the King`s heart was not in the deal that was offered. They, it seems, rather hoped that the largely specious `agreement` would be rejected and said so on a number of occasions. Jaffray even counselled the king  "not to sign the Covenant if he was not satisfied in his own conscience."  But in the end, the King`s physical circumstances paid a large part in his acceptance. The fact was that he was penniless, surrounded by his enemies, badly advised by his Council such as it was,  and unable to seek refuge anywhere else. In the intervening year since his father`s death, he had found that there was little to no prospect of help from other European countries and that Scotland was his only option.

On 2 June 1650 Charles II and his entourage embarked for Scotland and landed on Speyside on 23 June. Charles soon found that he might be king but he did not have any real power. During this stay in Scotland the Presbyterian zealots forced Charles to sign a declaration at Dumferline on 16 August 1650, which greatly humbled him and sowed the seeds for his revenge at a later date.

A second Declaration at Breda was made in 1660 which was about the terms submitted to the English Parliament, under which Charles II would be restored to the crown of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Charles II in Scotland.


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