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Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution


1678-81 Exclusion crisis (attempt to exclude James from the succession)
1681 Charles II negotiates subsidy from France and thus avoids calling
  Parliament for the remainder of his reign
1683 Rye House plot, alleged conspiracy to assassinate Charles and James
  leads to a backlash against the Whigs
Feb 1685 James II crowned king.
July 1685 Monmouth rebellion overturned
Nov 1685 Parliament prorogued and James begins policy of catholicising
June 1688 Birth of James, Prince of Wales
  Archbishop Sancroft and 6 bishops acquitted on charges of sedition
  For protesting against reading the Declaration of Indulgence
  (granted all Christians equality of religious practice)
  ‘Invitation’ of 7 politicians to invite William of Orange (married to
  James’ eldest daughter, Mary) to intervene to protect Protestantism
  And traditional liberties
Nov 1688 William lands at Torbay, James fails to lead his (superior) army into
  battle and thus morale collapses
Dec 1688 James driven into exile. William enters London
Feb 1689 Convention Parliament summoned
  Declaration of Rights read to William and Mary
  William and Mary crowned
  Mutiny Act makes maintenance of army legal for only 1 year
  Act of Toleration
March 1689 James lands in Ireland
April 1689 William and Mary declared joint sovereigns of Scotland
1690 James defeated at battle of the Boyne
1691 Jacobites in Ireland surrender
1694 Triennial Act
1695 Licensing Act not renewed, freedom of the press
1701 Act of Settlement: fixes succession to House of Hanover; transfers
  right to dismiss judges from King to Parliament
1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland


a) Begins as ‘Court-Whig’ Anglo-centred approach and talk of the miraculous event that restored liberties and laws without the loss of (much) bloodshed.

b) At the end of the 18th century the question of whether it was ‘conservative’ or ‘radical’ was raised in the work of Burke, Paine and Price for example.

c) Macaulay and early twentieth century Whigs restored the ‘herosim’ aspect and viewed it as a sensible or respectable revolution.

d) conservative ‘revisionist’ argue the revolution was not a turning point - there were minimal changes in government and much was a reaffirmation of what had gone before

e) the neo-Whigs separate political from social revolutions - arguing that 1688 was a ‘political’ revolution.

f) ‘Marxist’ historians play down the achievements of 1688 reserving the term ;

‘revolution’ for the 1640s.


Monarchy - few privileges removed; Act of Succession determined path of succession but did not transform monarchy into an elective, rather than heriditary institution; curtailed only in the field of revenue but this was enough to steadily erode its powers during the next 100 years

Parliament - position reaffirmed and strengthened; from now on met regularly with frequent elections; had established a separate persona from the monarch and was released from the uncertainty of the Stuart period to become the major legislative body

Parties - Whigs and Tories views crystallised by revolution but intially there were deep divisions over the legitimacy of what had occurred and the possible implications for law and order; both parties had extreme wings (radical dissenting and Jacobite) because of disappointment with the path of the revolution

People - played a small, if necessary part in the revolution itself. The settlement confirmed rights but did not engender the idea that there should be frequent reviews of rights, leading to a progressive reform of law

Church - deeply divided by the revolution because of the connotations of disobedience. Established church split into three; Catholics endured a century of discrimination; Dissenters achieved some lifting of restrictions but disappointed that William did not deliver more

Outside England - revolution bitter disappointment to Scots who wanted separation from England but eventually were forced to accept Act of Union; there were bloody rebellions in Ireland put down by William; American colonies saw revolution as a justification for armed resistance against tyrannous regimes; implications of revolution also reached other colonies such as the West Indies and Caribbean; Europe viewed it as a struggle against absolutism and restoring natural liberties