In 1672, King Charles II of England decided to extend religious liberty to Protestant nonconformists and Roman Catholics in his realms by suspending the execution of penal laws that punished Popish recusants (those who refused to attend the Anglican Church of England services).
To this end, on March 15, 1672, King Charles II issued his “Royal Declaration of Indulgence.”
England’s Cavalier Parliament opposed this Declaration of Indulgence on constitutional grounds by claiming that the King had no right to arbitrarily suspend laws passed by Parliament.
Then, also in 1672, King Charles II openly supported Catholic France and started the Third Anglo-Dutch War between England and France against Denmark and Norway.
The English Parliament became alienated by the King’s wars and religious policies and forced him to withdraw the Declaration of Indulgence in 1673.
They replaced the Declaration of Indulgence with the first of the Test Acts, which required anyone entering public service in England to deny the Catholic doctrine and take Anglican Church of England communion.
The Test Acts also later forced them to denounce certain teachings of the Catholic Church as “superstitious and idolatrous.”
By 1674, King Charles II had gained nothing from his Anglo-Dutch War and the Cavalier Parliament refused to provide further funds, forcing King Charles II to make peace on January 4, 1674.
Ironically, in 1687 when King Charles II’s openly Catholic successor King James II attempted to issue a similar Declaration of Indulgence also known as the Declaration for Liberty of Conscience, this became one of the grievances which led to the Glorious Revolution that ousted him from the throne on December 11, 1688.
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