By the end of the Oxford Parliament England was as divided ideologically as in the civil wars. The Whigs were frustrated and angry. Their celebrations and demonstrations became more violent; their pamphlet attacks on the Tories became even more vituperative; some now embraced, at least privately, a contractual view of government which allowed the people an unlimited right of resistance. Others became embroiled in conspiracies, which involved armed insurrection and even the assassination of the king and his brother; these became public with the investigations into the Rye House Plot in 1683. 1 The Tories, led by the clergy, remorselessly proclaimed the divine origins of monarchy and the sanctity of the hereditary succession. Faced with the spectre of revolt, they argued that active resistance to lawful authority could never be justified. Some slid from this into an assertion that it was the subject’s duty to obey whatever their king commanded. ‘Non-resistance’ and ‘passive obedience’ were distinct concepts: most of the clergy taught that if the king commanded something against the law of God, one should refuse to obey and then passively submit to punishment. However, it was easy to confuse the two: Whig polemicists and the bluff, straightforward Duke of York both assumed that one necessarily implied the other. 2 In their enthusiasm – or panic – some Tory apologists advanced quasi-absolutist views of royal authority. At Cambridge, Robert Brady’s historical works undermined the concept of the ancient constitution, arguing that monarchy antedated either Parliaments or laws, with the implication that what kings had created they could take away. 3 The University of Oxford in 1683 condemned a whole series of opinions concerning the right of resistance and other rights of subjects and a series of works, including Baxter’s Holy Commonwealth, almost all published before 1660. 4 Knowing how badly James II was to treat the Church and the Tories, this crying up royal authority and belittling subjects’ rights might seem foolish. But since his first return from exile in 1679, York had assured the Tories that he would support the Church and the king’s old friends. His vigorous endorsement of the episcopal church in Scotland suggested that he was sincere. Moreover, the most elementary calculation of self-interest would surely impel him to rely on the supporters of monarchy and the hereditary succession.