Revolution of 1688

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The revolution brought William III and Mary II to the throne.

The Revolution of 1688, also known as the Orange Revolution, or Glorious Revolution by its supporters, was the overthrow of James II of England (VII of Scotland and II of Ireland) in 1688 by a union of Parliamentarians with an invading army led by the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange) who, as a result, ascended the British thrones as William III of England.

The crisis besetting King James II came to a head in 1688, when the King fathered a son, James Francis Edward Stuart on 10 June (Julian calendar),[1] until then the throne would have passed to his daughter, Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange. The prospect of a Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms was now likely. Already troubled by the King's Catholicism and his close ties with France, key leaders of the Tories united with members of the opposition Whigs and set out to resolve the crisis by inviting William of Orange to England.[2]

The expression "Glorious Revolution" was first used by John Hampden in late 1689,[3] and is an expression that is still used by the British Parliament.[4] The Glorious Revolution is also occasionally termed the Bloodless Revolution, albeit inaccurately. In England there were two significant clashes between the two armies, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns.[5] There was also the Williamite War in Ireland and serious fighting in Scotland (notably the Battles of Killicrankie and the Dunkeld).[6] The revolution also led to the collapse of the Dominion of New England and the overthrow of Maryland's government.

The Revolution is closely tied in with the events of the War of the Grand Alliance on mainland Europe, and may be seen as the last successful invasion of England.[7] It can be argued that James's overthrow began modern English parliamentary democracy: never since has the monarch held absolute power, and the Bill of Rights has become one of the most important documents in the political history of Britain. The deposition of the Roman Catholic James II ended any chance of Catholicism becoming re-established in England, and also led to limited toleration for nonconformist Protestants — it would be some time before they had full political rights. For Catholics, however, it was disastrous both socially and politically. Catholics were denied the right to vote and sit in the Westminster Parliament for over 100 years afterwards. They were also denied commissions in the army and the monarch was forbidden to be Catholic or marry a Catholic, thus ensuring a Protestant succession.

The invasion ended all attempts by England, in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, to subdue the Dutch Republic by military force. However, the personal union, the common market and the co-operation between the English and Dutch navies shifted the dominance in world trade from the Republic to England (and then to the United Kingdom of Great Britain).

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.


  1. In this article "New Style" means the start of year is adjusted to 1 January. Events on the European mainland are usually given using the Gregorian calendar, while events in Great Britain and Ireland are usually given using the Julian calendar with the year adjusted to 1 January. Dates with no explicit Julian or Gregorian postscript will be using the same calendar as the last date with an explicit postscript.
  2. Barry Coward, The Stuart Age (1980) 298-302
  3. In testimony before a House of Lords committee in the autumn of 1689; Schwoerer, L.G. (2004), The Revolution of 1688-89: Changing Perspectives, Cambridge U.P., 310 pages ISBN 0521526140, p. 3
  4. The Glorious Revolution
  5. The English Civil War (also known as the Great Rebellion) was still within living memory for most of the major English participants in the events of 1688, and for them, in comparison to that war (or even the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685) the deaths in the conflict of 1688 were mercifully few.
  6. England, Scotland, and Ireland at time shared a king but were still in theory separate realms with their own parliaments. However in practice the Irish parliament had been completely under the control of Westminster since Poynings Law of 1494, but Scotland still had a degree of independence.
  7. See e.g. Jonathan I. Israel, "The Dutch role in the Glorious Revolution", in Israel, J.I. (ed.) (1991) The Anglo-Dutch Moment. Essays on the Glorious Revolution and its world impact, Cambridge U.P. ISBN 0-521-39075-3, p. 105; see also Jonathan I. Israel and Geoffrey Parker, "Of Providence and Protestant Winds: the Spanish Armada of 1588 and the Dutch armada of 1688", pp 335-364 in the same volume.

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