Cabal

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cabal. Word meaning secret clique or conspiracy, given to Charles II's administration of 1671–3 which covered the time of the third Anglo-Dutch war, the alliance with Louis XIV, and the suspension of the religious penal laws. The cabal was not a cabinet or unified ministry. The ministers, whose initials formed the word cabal, each had different principles and objectives. Lord Clifford, who climbed from being a poor Devonshire squire to become lord treasurer, became a catholic and advocated war to seize Dutch commercial wealth and to make the crown more absolute. Arlington, a courtier and careerist, always tried to implement what he interpreted as Charles's wishes. Buckingham wanted to become chief minister: he affected popularity and favoured religious toleration. Lord Ashley, advanced to be earl of Shaftesbury, also advocated toleration. The cynical Lauderdale governed Scotland for Charles. The cabal disintegrated under parliamentary pressure in 1673: Clifford died, Buckingham and Shaftesbury went into opposition.

J. R. Jones

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Cabal (kəbăl´), inner group of advisers to Charles II of England. Their initials form the word (which is, however, of older origin)—Clifford of Chudleigh, Ashley (Lord Shaftesbury), Buckingham (George Villiers), Arlington (Henry Bennet), and Lauderdale (John Maitland). Although they were never a working ministry, one or more of this group dominated court policy from 1667 through 1673.

See study by M. Lee (1965).

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Cabal Advisers to Charles II of England, 1667–74. The five members of this group, which is sometimes considered the first cabinet, were Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley (later Earl of Shaftesbury) and Lauderdale; the first letters of their names spell ‘cabal’. When it became known that two of them plotted with the king to tolerate Catholicism, the Cabal split up.

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cabalAl, bacchanal, cabal, canal, Chagall, Chantal, chaparral, gal, grand mal, Guadalcanál, Hal, La Salle, mall, Natal, pal, pall-mall, petit mal, sal, shall, Val •Iqbal • Parsifal • mescal • decal •caracal • Amytal • Nembutal •Pentothal

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Cabal in the mid 17th century, the name given to a committee of five ministers under Charles II, whose surnames happened to begin with C, A, B, A, and L (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale). The modern sense of a secret political clique derives from this.

The word cabal (denoting the Kabbalah) is recorded from the late 16th century, and comes ultimately via French from medieval Latin cabala.

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Cabal

a small group engaged in a secret intrigue; a political clique. See also camarilla, conspiracy, faction, party.

Examples: cabal of artists, 1859; of cardinals, 1715; of intriguers; of politicians. [Its origin was popularly related as an acronym referring to 1670, when the English Government ministers included C lifford, A shley, B uckingham, A rlington, and L auderdale.]

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cabal †cabbala; private intrigue; clique. XVII. — F. cabale — medL. cab(b)ala; see CABBALA.
Hence cabal vb. conduct an intrigue XVII; cf. F. cabaler.

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ca·bal / kəˈbäl; -ˈbal/ • n. a secret political clique or faction.