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Cabal

Cabal, originally a secret committee of advisers of the king; but in English history specially applied to the ministry formed under Charles II. after the fall of Clarendon (q.v.). The initial letters of the names of its five members, Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley-Cooper, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury, and Lauderdale - spelt the word. This "Cabal" held office from 1668 to 1673. At first, as a concession to public opinion, they formed the Triple Alliance between England, Holland and Sweden to check the advance of the French and the Netherlands. But - though otherwise differing widely in opinion - they agreed in a wish to strengthen the royal prerogative, which could only be done with the aid of the French king, Louis XIV. Secret negotiations with him, therefore, were begun very soon after the conclusion of the Triple Alliance; Parliament, which might have proved inconvenient, was prorogued in 1671, and money was obtained by suspending, nominally for one year, the repayment of the loans made by bankers to the exchequer; the Dutch fleet of merchant vessels returning from Smyrna was attacked in time of peace, and war declared with Holland. But Holland rid herself of Louis XIV.'s army by cutting the dykes and flooding the country, and her squadron successfully resisted the English fleets in battle. The Cabal meanwhile caused the king to issue a Declaration of Indulgence to Nonconformists, suspending the penal laws in their favour. But this was viewed with suspicion, as a possible step towards Catholicism. Supplies being necessary, Parliament was summoned; the opposition or "country party" carried a large majority of the seats: the Test Act was carried, and all the Cabal resigned save Lauderdale.

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