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iv. Army and Defense
After the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, James II did not agree to the disbanding of the army regiments. He failed to realize the feeling of the English people against the maintenance of the standing army. The Englishmen could not tolerate the standing army. This was against the interest and feeling of common Englishmen. The people developed negative sentiments for the King.
James II made a mistake when he got the Duke of Monmouth executed after his defeat in the battle of Sedgmoor. It was a blunder on his part. It would have been better if the Duke had been kept in the Tower or allowed to escape overseas. The death of the Duke cleared the Whigs of any possible ill will of the people. The result was that the Whigs began to gain in strength and popularity and ultimately they were responsible for the overthrow of James in 1688. But for this unpolitical act of James II, the Whigs might not have got an opportunity to come into prominence and lead the opposition against James II.
With a view to overawe the Londoners, he posted soldiers in the neighborhood of London. The King was actually trying to play the part of a bully. He should have known that Englishmen would not tolerate such an attitude.
After the suppression of Monmouth’s rebellion all his supporters were arrested and jailed. A special court was established to try them. Jeffrey was the Chief Justice. He was a notorious tyrant and barbarian who hanged about three hundred of them and transported some 800 to various countries, especially to West Indies, to work as slaves. Due to Jeffrey’s cruel deeds, this court came to be known as ’Bloody Assizes.’ It was considered a crime against humanity and a great political blunder. A fierce wave of anger swept over the country and executions and imprisonment fanned to flame the smoldering fire of widespread unrest and discontent.
v. Policy for Ireland and Scotland
The appointment of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland turned all the Irish Protestants against the Stuart monarchy. In the same manner his policy towards Scotland of Presbyterian persecution turned most of the Scottish people against James II.
vi. The Birth of a Son - An Important Factor
At that critical time, news came from the court announcing that James’ wife, Queen Mary of Modena, had given birth to a son. This was a bolt from the blue. The people thought that with a successor in James’ line of descent, there was no possibility of relief from the Catholic regime. The people hoped that James II would die without a son and after his death, his daughter Mary, wife of William of Orange, Protestant King of Holland, would ascend the throne. They were prepared to put up with James II because they knew that he was not going to live long on account of his old age.
They submitted to the tyranny of James II because they knew that it was bound to end sooner or later. Thereupon the nation tried to take a revolutionary step. The Whig and Tory leaders all united and they decided to invite William of Holland, the husband of Mary, the Protestant daughter of James II to come and ascend the throne of England.
2.10b Events of the Glorious Revolution
An incredibly smooth development of events led to the Glorious Revolution. The people of England decided to dethrone James and invited his son-in-law, William of Orange to occupy the throne of England. Though William was busy in a battle with France, he gladly accepted the invitation extended to him. He felt that it provided him an opportunity to combine the strength of England and Holland against France, the latter having an eye on Holland.
The people of England sent an invitation to William and Mary to come over with an army "to save the Protestant religion and the constitutional liberties of England." They landed in England after some difficulty. James II might have been permitted to retain his throne even then if he had repented for whatever illegal things he had done in the past and if he had promised to rule according to the law of the land. However, his stubbornness lost him all his friends. His army went over to the other side and he fled to France in December 1688, after throwing into the Thames the Great Seal of the Realm.
William’s professional Army consisted of the English, the Dutch, the Swedes and the Germans. For some weeks, William did not get much encouragement. Gradually the nobility deserted James. The Council of Peers was busy making preparations to call a free Parliament. At this time news came that James had been captured at Faversham in Kent. He was brought back to London. But he managed to escape. He took off for his final fight to France. His enemies were too glad to get rid of him. The members of the attending parliament discussed the question of Kingship. Finally the attending parties decided that the Royal power should be vested in William and Mary, who thus became the rulers of England. In this way with the fleeing of James II without putting up a fight, the bloodless Glorious Revolution took place. The Revolution of 1688 was a unique Revolution, not only in the history of England but probably in the history of Europe. In this connection Macaulay observes: "The highest eulogy which can be pronounced on the Revolution of 1688 is this that this was our last Revolution.
"It finally decided the great question whether the popular element which had, ever since the age of Fitz Walter and de Montfort, been found in the English policy should be suffered to develop itself freely and to become dominant. The strife between the two principles had been long, fierce and doubtful. It had lasted through four reigns. It had produced seditions, impeachments, rebellions, battles, sieges, proscription, and judicial massacres. Sometimes liberty, sometimes royalty, had seemed to be on the point of perishing."
2.10c Nature of Glorious Revolution
Although the reasons of this revolution were socio-political and religious, its nature was political. It was accomplished without bloodshed. Before the revolution of 1688, all-important political changes were brought in the wake of great bloodshed and excesses. England was compelled to pass through a great Civil War with it. Even the French Revolution of 1785 had the sacrifice of thousands of innocent people. However, in the case of Glorious Revolution in England nothing of the kind happened. In this regard Professor Trevelyan writes, "For many generations to come, the Revolution of 1688 was spoken of by our ancestors as the Glorious Revolution. Its glory did not consist in any deed of arms, in facts of heroism on the part of Englishmen nor in the fact that a whole nation proved itself stronger than their official King did. There was indeed a certain ignominy in the fact that a foreign King and army, however, friendly and welcome, had been required to enable Englishmen to recover the liberties they had muddled away in their frantic faction feuds. The true glory of the revolution lay in the fact that it was bloodless, that there was no Civil War, no massacre, no proscription, and above all, that a settlement by consent was reached on the religious and political differences that had so long and so fiercely divided men and parties." Some other historians also support the views of Professor Trevelyan. For instance, according to well-known historian Burkey, the events of 1688-89 were, "a happy and Glorious Revolution. It was the good fortune of England that the transition from despotism to constitutional monarchy, was brought about without any bloodshed. But some historians do not give much importance to the revolution of 1688. For instance, according to Marriot, "It was essentially conservative in nature. It conserved most things of the past and was not a radical departure from the old order. It only made explicit, what was previously only implicit and thus did not introduced any radical changes." The historian further says, "It was not a democratic movement in any sense and the wisest among them benefited by it."
2.0 - Introduction
2.1 The Stuart Dynasty
2.2 The Thirty Years' War
2.3 France and Richelieu
2.4 The Decline Of Spain under Philip II
2.5 The English Civil War (1642-1649)
2.6 The Age of Reason and Enlightenment
2.7 The Anglo-Dutch Wars
2.8 Peter, the Great
2.9 The Spanish Succession
2.10 The Glorious Revolution
2.11 Points to Remember