In English history, an influential clique of ministers at the court of Charles II from 1667 to 1674. The group derived its name from the initials of its members (Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale), who were notorious for their intrigues and corruption. The word cabal, which is now used to signify a body of political intriguers, was probably popularized by the activities of the English cabal, but it had long been associated with secrecy and magic, See CABALA.
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.