With hindsight one can see at various times in the past certain alternative courses of action which, if followed, might have changed the course of events dramatically and thereby obviated the consequences of decisions that were in fact taken. The six years after 1667 fall into this category. After the downfall of Clarendon two distinct courses of action were open to Charles II, which can be labelled ‘Cavalier’ and ‘Catholic’. ‘Cavalier’ polices entailed unqualified support for the restored Anglican Church, the suppression of all nonconformity as seditious by the enforcement of the Clarendon Code, and (though less important at the beginning) a Protestant foreign policy. ‘Catholic’ policies, on the other hand, combined toleration for Protestant and Catholic nonconformists at home with alliance with France abroad. It would be simplifying things too much to suggest that the choice between ‘Cavalier’ and ‘Catholic’ policies was clear-cut. Charles and his ministers sometimes followed both policies simultaneously. Yet, as will be seen, by making the treaties with France in 1670, and by issuing the Declaration of Indulgence and declaring war on the Dutch in 1672, Charles committed himself to ‘Catholic’ policies at a time when it was suspected (and in 1673 confirmed) that the heir to the throne, James, duke of York, was a Catholic. Charles thus aligned the English monarchy in the eyes of many Englishmen with popery and absolutism, and so ensured that it would be much harder to gain parliamentary cooperation in the 1670s than in the 1660s. It therefore becomes of prime importance to try to understand why Charles chose a set of policies that could be smeared as papist and absolutist, and rejected policies that might have produced a cooperative parliament.