Meanwhile, back in Europe (1650-1700)

28 11 2009

Back in England this would be a half century of turmoil triggered by the English Civil wars from 1641-1651, that resulted in the execution of King Charles I, and the exile of his son, Charles II to Mainland Europe.  From the period 1651 to 1660 England was ruled as first a Commonwealth and then Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate before Charles II returned to reclaim the throne in 1660.

Charles II would rule until his death in 1685.  During his reign he signed a secret pact with the French and promised to convert to Catholicism which he did on his deathbed.  This pact and conversion would lead to problems after his death, and have a large impact in New England.  His Catholic Brother, James II would become King for a few years before William of Orange deposed him in 1688 in The Glorious Revolution.  The English were none to happy about a Catholic Monarch.

King William III (William of Orange)

As you can probably guess, these shifting Kings and Governments reverberated back in the colonies.  Governors were appointed by Kings, Parliament had their agents there as well.  Dukes and Lords had landholdings and settlements.  All of them had to make decisions on where their loyalties lay and it impacted the individual colonists that were trying settle the land and make a few pounds on the side.  What a mess.

New Hampshire had once again gained separation from Massachusetts in 1679, and was governed by Edward Cranfield, a real character.  He was in New England mostly to scoop up as much wealth as possible by controlling who got what land that was granted to Mason and now being managed by his son.  Using the power of his office, he assigned councilors, dismissed and punished the ones that disagreed with him, convened and disbanded councils at will, etc.  He had tried raising all kinds of taxes, jailing people (including Pastors) and anything else he could think of to further his fortune. In the end, the colonists hated him.   His Sheriffs’ and Tax collectors were driven off or beaten and his orders ignored.  London finally gave him the boot in 1685, the same year James II ascended to the throne.  You can read all the political dirty details in Belknap Vol I, Chapter VIII.  It’s dry, but fascinating stuff.

James II appointed Edmund Andros, a Catholic like himself, Governor in New England December of 1686.  Andros was a loyal Royalist and another tyrant.

To particularize the many instances of tyranny and oppression which the country suffered from these men, is not within the design of this work. Let it suffice to observe, that the press was restrained; liberty of conscience infringed; exorbitant fees and taxes demanded, without the voice or consent of the people, who had no privilege of representation. The charter being vacated, it was pretended that all titles to land were annulled; and as to Indian deeds, Andros declared them no better than "the scratch of a bear’s paw." Landholders were obliged to take out patents for their estates which they had possessed forty or fifty years: for these patents, extravagant fees were exacted, and those, who would not submit to this imposition, had writs of intrusion brought against them, and their land was patented to others. To hinder the people from consulting about the redress of their grievances, town-meetings were prohibited, except one in the month of May, for the choice of town officers; and to prevent complaints being carried to England, no person was permitted to go out of the country without express leave from the governor.

Belknap V1 P119

Nice guy. But by 1689, with William of Orange ousting James II, he gets his comeuppance.

They believed Andros to be a papist; that he had hired the Indians, and supplied them with ammunition to destroy their frontier settlements; and that he was preparing to betray the country into the hands of the French.  At the same time, the large strides that King James the Second was making toward the establishment of popery and despotism, raised the most terrible apprehensions; so that the report of the landing of the Prince of Orange in England was received here with the greatest joy.

The people had now borne these innovations and impositions for about three years: Their patience was worn out, and their native love of freedom kindled at the prospect of deliverance. The news of a complete revolution in England had not reached them; yet so sanguine were their expectations, so eager were they to prove that they were animated by the same spirit with their brethren at home, that upon the rumor of an intended massacre in the town of Boston by the governor’s guards, they were wrought up to a degree of fury.  On the morning of the eighteenth of April, the town was in arms, and the country flocking in to their assistance. The governor, and those who had fled with him to the fort, were seized and committed to prison.

… Andros and his accomplices were sent home as prisoners of state, to be disposed of according to the king’s pleasure.

Belknap V1pp121-122

All of this brings us to King William’s War, or the First French and Indian War in New England.  It was New Englands part in the broader Nine Years War.  This war pitted King Louis the XIV of France against just about everyone else in Europe. 

Many of the next markers commemorate events from that war.