Restoration and 18th Century Literature : The 1670s

  • Conventicle Act comes into effect

    Unsuccesfully established in 1664, the Act required government officials to take action against individuals suspected of attending non-Protestant religious meetings. Individuals could be charged without trial and the populace rebelled by holding huge illegal conventicles in London. Hundreds were arrested, including Quaker William Penn.
  • Period: to

    The 1670s

  • Secret Treaty of Dover

    Already having entered into a treaty with the Dutch, Charles II meets with Louis XIV, his brother-in-law, and agrees to promote Catholicism within England while supplying ships for Louis’s war against the Dutch. Charles also agrees to publically convert to Catholicism for a high sum of money and continues to play his allies off against one another.
  • Publication of Paradise Regained

    Four years after the publication of Paradise Lost, John Milton completes and publishes Paradise Regained, which focuses on the Temptation of Christ. Consisting of four books, the poem is significantly shorter than Paradise Lost and was printed with Samson Agonistes, a closet drama.
  • The Royal Declaration of Indulgence

    The declaration permitted Charles II to grant indulgences or dispensations to individuals. Issued specifically to grant Catholics and non-conformists exemption from Protestant-biased penal laws, the Declaration blurred boundaries between the king’s ability to release certain individuals from statutes and his ability to suspend entire laws indefinitely. Members of Parliament fought the Declaration and Charles II repealed it in the following year.
  • First public concert

    Throughout Europe, musical concerts had been private events, commissioned by well-to-do patrons and performed in exclusive venues. Violinist John Banister catered to middle class audiences and musicians by organizing a public performance in London, setting up chairs and tables in a rented room, and advertising in the London Gazette. The practice spread to the Continent and has become a standard practice.
  • The Test Act of 1673

    The Act requires all government officials to pass a “test” of Protestant communion sacraments and denounce the Catholic belief of transubstantiation. Officials flock to verify their loyalty to the Anglican church, while rumors surround James, Duke of York, who refuses to take the test.
  • Treaty of Westminster

    Charles II and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster, ending the third Anglo-Dutch War. England gains New Amsterdam and renames it New York.
  • Construction begins on St. Paul's Cathedral

    Though eighty-seven London churches burned down in 1666, few were rebuilt. In the reconstruction of London, plans were made for a new cathedral and the foundation stone of St. Paul’s was laid on this date. Construction on the cathedral would continue for thirty-six years, and the spires designed by Christopher Wren would become a defining aspect of the city of London.
  • Premiere of The Rover

    The Rover, arguably Aphra Behn’s most successful play, is produced and premiered. Charles II’s mistress Nell Gwyn performs the role of the heroine-prostitute Angellica Bianca and Charles II himself requests a private performance. The play emphasized the sexual and social victimization of women and led to a long-lasting working relationship between Behn and Gwyn. Behn’s sexually charged plays following The Rover led to accusations that Behn was a libertine.
  • Publication of The Pilgrim's Progress (Part I)

    John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which is to Come is published . Bunyan preached in a Baptist church before he was imprisoned for violating the Conventicle Act of 1664. He was released under the Declaration of 1672 and became an international sensation after the publication of The Pilgrim’s Progress, which appealed simultaneously to audiences’ imaginations and spiritual sensibilities.