Restoration literature covers writers active at this period, most notably English poet and dramatist John Dryden, English religious writer John Bunyan, English poet John Milton, and English non-fiction writer Samuel Pepys. Restoration comedy, popular drama played in the theatres newly reopened since the time of the Protectorate, was characterized by its bawdiness and wit.
Historical events After the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, his son Richard Cromwell succeeded as Lord Protector. However, he lost control of the army which, led by General John Lambert, forced Richard to dissolve Parliament and recall the Rump, the remainder of the Long Parliament dissolved in 1653. In May 1659 Richard resigned as Lord Protector. Law and order collapsed throughout the country, and in August there was a Royalist rebellion. In October an army coup led by Lambert closed the Parliament.
However, the leader of the army in Scotland, General Monck, declared against the coup. Leading his army into London in February 1660, he re-established the Rump Parliament. In April 1660 Charles II issued the Declaration of Breda offering – if he were to return as king – a general pardon, freedom of worship, and to meet the army's pay arrears.
Charles returned amid wild rejoicing on 29 May 1660; shortly afterwards, the regicides (killers of kings) were executed and Cromwell's body was exhumed, decapitated, and the head stuck on a pole outside Westminster Hall. Scotland was given back independence. Charles's first Parliament – known as the Cavalier Parliament – was strongly Royalist. It abolished the standing army. It restored the Church of England, and dissenters were restricted in their worship. Royalists whose lands had been confiscated were given them back.
However, there was a limit to the Restoration. Parliament did not grant Charles enough money to become independent of Parliament. It did not restore the Star Chamber, or taxation without Parliament's consent. It did not attempt to force dissenters to attend the Church of England, and Royalists who sold their land to pay fines got no compensation. It was clear that Parliament did not intend Charles II to return to the monarchy of the Eleven Years' Tyranny.