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"The Glorious Revolution"

The Glorious Revolution is a name given by historians to the events which led to the removal of James the II (1633-1701) from the English throne. The English political leaders became convinced that James planned to rule as an absolute monarch and to restore Catholicism to England. James' daughter and her Protestant husband, William of Orange of Holland, both in Europe at the time, were approached and recruited upon certain terms. William landed in Devon with his army in 1688; and James, finding himself without both military and popular support, fled to France where he was cordially received by Louis XIV. In an attempt to regain his throne, James landed in Ireland in 1689, but was decisively defeated in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The terms by which William and Mary were placed upon the English throne were constitutionally enshrined in the Bill of Rights (1690). It specifically provided that the crown cannot levy taxes without the consent of Parliament, nor keep a standing army in times of peace; it also provided that Catholics could not be English sovereigns. (In the days under review, Catholicism was more than just a religion; it was a way, by which foreigners could intervene in the affairs of England.) Incidentally, the English Bill of Rights did not list the innumerable rights of an Englishman, nor did it have to; but it did confirm two important ones, especially in the context of any dispute which might arise between a tyrannical king and the "people's representatives" such as the very dispute which gave rise to the Glorious Revolution in the first place. It reiterated two rights which are the bastions against a tyrannic regime: the right to bear arms and the right to petition, viz., the right to bring one's grievance before a court of law.1


[1] For further information, see Macaulay's essay (14 pp.), "The revolution of 1688."


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)