This week’s post is about the Glorious Revolution during the 17th Century. But what is it that makes it so glorious? What was being revolutionized?
The Glorious Revolution started in 1688 and is famous, and named ‘Glorious’ for the fact that the throne was shifted from a legitimate ruler to an illegitimate one without civil war breaking out. James II was King of England at the time. Many people didn’t like James as their King because he was a Catholic. After James’ father, Charles I, ruled as a Protestant and his older brother, Charles II, not having a set religion when he was King, it now seemed, to the people, that James was wanting to re-establish Catholicism. The people seemed to have good reason for believing this, too! James was consistently appointing Catholic priests and judges to assist him as King. Even though James liked the idea of religious toleration, people did not trust him because he was Catholic. They believed that he adopted religious toleration just so that Catholicism could be practiced again. This fear of James re-introducing Catholicism and the fear of an absolutist rule scared the people, and seven Protestant nobles into asking William of Orange, the husband of James II’s eldest daughter, Mary II, for help with removing James from the throne. James, not willing to fight William, just gathered his family and fled to France.
Here is what made the revolution so glorious. The throne was taken without any civil war or fighting! William and Mary then took back the throne, which people were very happy about because both William and Mary were Protestant.
William and Mary then created the Bill of Rights which sets the King’s power apart from Parliament’s power. It stated that the King would no longer have as much power as before. You can read the entire Bill of Rights here
Never before in history had such an illegitimate transfer of power gone so smoothly! James was the legitimate ruler and William was not, but he was trying still to take the throne. This illegitimate claim to the throne alone would have been enough to start a war, but the whole revolution went without any bloodshed or violence.
Some may feel that James was a coward for giving up his throne without a fight. I actually feel that James was wise. He likely knew that staying and fighting would probably be the worst thing that could happen to his people. I believe that he would rather save his people and sacrifice his reign instead of putting them through a war. He knew he would probably lose anyway. Not even his own subjects, liked him so why would they support him? I also feel that people were so caught up in their own fear and so afraid of the past that they completely overlooked giving James a chance to prove himself. James was the rightful king, but his power had been usurped anyway! All because he was accused of possibly introducing Catholicism back into England.
Whether he would have reinstated Catholicism as the state religion or not, I feel he still should’ve been given a chance.