Glorious Revolution

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Glorious Revolution,

in English history, the events of 1688–89 that resulted in the deposition of James IIJames II,
1633–1701, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1685–88); second son of Charles I, brother and successor of Charles II. Early Life
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 and the accession of William IIIWilliam III,
1650–1702, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689–1702); son of William II, prince of Orange, stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and of Mary, oldest daughter of King Charles I of England.
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 and Mary IIMary II,
1662–94, queen of England, wife of William III. The daughter of James II by his first wife, Anne Hyde, she was brought up a Protestant despite her father's adoption of Roman Catholicism. In 1677 she married her cousin William of Orange and went with him to Holland.
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 to the English throne. It is also called the Bloodless Revolution. The restoration of Charles IICharles II,
1630–85, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1660–85), eldest surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Early Life

Prince of Wales at the time of the English civil war, Charles was sent (1645) to the W of England with his council,
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 in 1660 was met with misgivings by many Englishmen who suspected the Stuarts of Roman Catholic and absolutist leanings. Charles II increased this distrust by not being responsive to ParliamentParliament,
legislative assembly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the centuries it has become more than a legislative body; it is the sovereign power of Great Britain, whereas the monarch remains sovereign in name only.
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, by his toleration of Catholic dissent, and by favoring alliances with Catholic powers in Europe. A parliamentary group, the WhigsWhig,
English political party. The name, originally a term of abuse first used for Scottish Presbyterians in the 17th cent., seems to have been a shortened form of whiggamor [cattle driver]. It was applied (c.
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, tried to ensure a Protestant successor by excluding James, duke of York (later James II), from the throne, but they were unsuccessful. After James's accession (1685) his overt Catholicism and the birth of a Catholic prince who would succeed to the throne united the hitherto loyal Tories (see ToryTory
, English political party. The term was originally applied to outlaws in Ireland and was adopted as a derogatory name for supporters of the duke of York (later James II) at the time (c.
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) with the Whigs in common opposition to James.

Seven Whig and Tory leaders sent an invitation to the Dutch prince William of Orange and his consort, Mary, Protestant daughter of James, to come to England. William landed at Torbay in Devonshire with an army. James's forces, under John Churchill (later duke of Marlborough), deserted him, and James fled to France (Dec., 1688). There was some debate in England on how to transfer power; whether to recall James on strict conditions or under a regency, whether to depose him outright, or whether to treat his flight as an abdication. The last course was decided upon, and early in 1689 William and Mary accepted the invitation of Parliament to rule as joint sovereigns.

The Declaration of Rights and the Bill of RightsBill of Rights,
1689, in British history, one of the fundamental instruments of constitutional law. It registered in statutory form the outcome of the long 17th-century struggle between the Stuart kings and the English Parliament.
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 (1689) redefined the relationship between monarch and subjects and barred any future Catholic succession to the throne. The royal power to suspend and dispense with law was abolished, and the crown was forbidden to levy taxation or maintain a standing army in peacetime without parliamentary consent. The provisions of the Bill of Rights were, in effect, the conditions upon which the throne was offered to and accepted by William and Mary. These events were a milestone in the gradual process by which practical power shifted from the monarch to Parliament. The theoretical ascendancy of Parliament was never thereafter successfully challenged.


See G. M. Trevelyan, The English Revolution, 1688–1689 (1938); L. Pinkham, William III and the Respectable Revolution (1954); J. Childs, The Army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution (1981); S. E. Prall, The Bloodless Revolution (1972); T. Harris, Revolution (2008); S. Pincus, 1688: The First Modern Revolution (2009).

Glorious Revolution


a term accepted in bourgeois historiography to designate a coup that took place in England during the period 1688–89. The coup was the result of a compromise between a group of large landowners and the victors in the English Civil War—the bourgeoisie and the new gentry. As a result of the coup, James II Stuart was deposed, and royal power was handed over to his son-in-law, the Dutch stadholder William III of Orange. William’s wife and daughter of James II, Mary II Stuart, was declared William’s coruler. By applying the designation Glorious Revolution to the coup of 1688–89, bourgeois historians attempted to contrast this “legal” conspiracy, limited to the ruling classes, with the revolution of the mid-17th century. The real significance of the coup was that it abolished absolutism and established a constitutional monarchy in England. Parliament became the highest power in the monarchy, and it represented the interests of a considerable portion of the landed aristocracy and the big bourgeoisie.


Glorious Revolution

James II deposed; William and Mary enthroned (1688). [Br. Hist.: EB, 3: 248]
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