Restoration, in English history, the return of the Stuart monarchy with the accession of Charles II in 1660. After Charles I was beheaded in 1649, England was governed as a commonwealth, led by Oliver Cromwell. When the Commonwealth collapsed in 1660 Parliament accepted Charles II as king. The Restoration period is often considered as extending through the reigns of Charles II (1660-85) and his brother, James II (1685-88). During the Restoration, the influence of the king was once again strongly felt, but Parliament's political power also increased.
The Restoration was an eventful era. In 1665 England went to war with Holland, and the English captured New Netherland (New York) in America. The Great Plague swept England in 1665-66. Late in 1666 the Great Fire razed much of London.
Charles reestablished the Anglican church as the official church of England. Protestants, including Puritans and Quakers, who did not accept the articles of Anglican worship became known as Dissenters, or Nonconformists. Charles's attitude of toleration toward Roman Catholicism and his tendencies toward absolutism led to the forming of England's first great political parties: the Tories, favoring Charles, and the Whigs.
The mood of the Restoration largely followed the character of Charles. His morals were loose, but he was well-educated and a patron of the arts. The theaters, closed by the Puritans in 1642, were reopened by Charles. The new freedom stimulated play-writing, and the comedy of manners---witty, bawdy, sophisticated---came to typify the era. The leading playwright was William Congreve, the leading poet, John Dryden. Colorful accounts of the period are found in the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn.
In French history, the term Restoration refers to the period after the fall of Napoleon I in which the monarchy was restored under Louis XVIII (1814-24).