Edward Hyde Clarendon, 1st earl of

Clarendon, Edward Hyde, 1st earl of (klârˈəndən) [key], 1609–74, English statesman and historian. Elected (1640) to the Short and Long parliaments, he was at first associated with the opposition to Charles I and helped prepare the impeachment of the earl of Strafford. The increasing radicalism of the opposition, however, led him to offer his services to the king, whom he aided by drafting a reply to the Grand Remonstrance. After the outbreak of the civil war, Hyde was appointed (1643) chancellor of the exchequer, and he represented (1645) Charles in the unsuccessful Uxbridge negotiations to end the war. Hyde followed Prince Charles (later Charles II) into exile in 1646 and became one of his chief advisers. Pursuing Hyde's policy, Charles awaited the appearance of a strong, friendly faction in England and successfully negotiated his own restoration (1660) without foreign aid. After Charles's return to England, Hyde became (1660) lord chancellor and was created earl of Clarendon (1661). Clarendon hoped to achieve a lenient religious settlement that would conciliate the Puritans, but his wishes were overborne by the militantly Anglican Cavalier Parliament, which passed the unjustly named Clarendon Code. He was blamed by the public for the sale (1662) of Dunkirk to the French and for the second Dutch War (which he opposed), and he was unpopular with the licentious Restoration court. In 1667, Charles dismissed him from office, using him as a scapegoat for military failures and financial breakdown in the Dutch War. Impeachment proceedings were begun, and Clarendon fled England to live the remainder of his life in exile. As a statesman he was consistent and moderate, never wavering from his early views on constitutional monarchy but blind to new political forces created by the English civil war. Through the marriage (1660) of his daughter Anne to the duke of York (later James II), Clarendon was the grandfather of two queens, Mary II and Anne. His renowned History of the Rebellion (standard ed., 6 vol., 1888), written partly from memory and partly from documents, is an indispensable account of the civil war.

See his autobiography (1857); study by B. H. G. Wormald (1951, repr. 1964).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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