Seventeenth century England was an unstable place riven with religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, conflicts between the staunchly Protestant Parliament and the increasingly Catholic monarchs began to grow. King James II, who ascended the throne in 1685, exacerbated these tensions by allowing religious freedom, appointing Catholics to important positions in the military and suspending Parliament. He also married a young Catholic noblewoman, Mary of Modena, and had a child with her, ensuring that the throne would remain in Catholic hands at James's death instead of passing to his Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange. Parliament invited William and his wife to come over and rule jointly in exchange for some limits on royal prerogatives. This bloodless coup became known as the Glorious Revolution. From then, monarchs were not allowed to dispense with laws, keep a standing army, raise taxes without parliamentary consent or profess Catholicism. The new monarchs tightened their grip on Catholic Ireland but left the American colonies, which James II had tried to control, more or less alone, allowing them to develop a unique political culture.Learn more about Modern Europe
History of the first 13 Colonies and how they became the United States
The colonization of America and the fascinating events that led colonists and patriots down the Road to Revolution
Definition of the Glorious Revolution of 1688
Political and religious issues produced a chain of events that led to this revolution. The Glorious Revolution abolished absolutism and established a constitutional monarchy in England in which parliament had basic sovereignty over the king. The Glorious Revolution led to the 1689 English Bill of Rights which was quickly followed by the 1689 Mutiny Act which sought to limit the maintenance of a standing army during peacetime to one year.
Glorious Revolution and the American Colonies
The Glorious Revolution in England
The Glorious Revolution in England changed the role and powers of the Kings of England from those of an Absolute monarch to a Constitutional monarch.
- An 'Absolute Monarchy' meant the king had the power to do do anything without any constraint by law or parliament
- A 'Constitutional Monarchy' meant the king acted as a figurehead whose power was limited by parliament
The Glorious Revolution and the American Colonies
The changes in monarchy were sparked by the English Revolution, which became known as the Glorious Revolution. The Glorious Revolution also led to rebellion the American colonies, which although were short lived, can be seen as precursors to the American Revolution. This article provides a fast overview of the events in English history that led to the Glorious Revolution and its effects on the American colonies.
Glorious Revolution - English Civil War & Absolute Monarchy
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political disputes between Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and Royalists (Cavaliers) which ended in victory for the Parliamentarians, the dissolution of the monarchy and the execution of King Charles I. Charles I ruled as an 'absolute monarch' which meant he could do anything he wanted without any constraint by law or parliament.
The Glorious Revolution - The Parliamentarians and the Restoration of the Monarchy
The Parliamentarians disposed of the rule of 'absolute monarchy' under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. However, the English crown was eventually restored to King Charles II in 1660 (reigned 1660 - 1685) and followed by his brother King James II (reigned 1685 – 11 December 1688). James II believed in 'the Divine Right of Kings' and tried to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists against the wishes of the English Parliament. To protect himself from rebellions, James sought safety in an enlarged standing army. As a result of his actions James was deposed as king.
The Glorious Revolution and King William III
King James was replaced by King William III (reigned 13 February 1689 – 8 March 1702) - these events are referred to as the English Revolution or more commonly as the Glorious Revolution. King William III ruled jointly with his wife until her death (the joint reign is often referred to as "William and Mary").
The Glorious Revolution - Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights
Parliament did not want a king that ruled with absolute power. The English Revolution or the Glorious Revolution led to a constitutional and democratic form of government being put in place. The Magna Carta had started the process of establishing the democratic basis of the English Monarchy but it is not until the Glorious Revolution that this was established by the Bill of Rights 1689. The Magna Carta started the process of establishing the democratic basis of the English Monarchy in 1215, but it was not until the English Revolution, known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’ that the process of democracy was really established by the Bill of Rights 1689.
The Glorious Revolution and a Constitutional Monarchy
The Glorious Revolution established a constitutional monarchy in Great Britain. A constitutional monarchy is one in which the King or Queen has a largely ceremonial position. It is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state but their powers are defined and limited by law. Constitutional monarchies employ a parliamentary system with a Prime Minister as head of the government.
What effect did the Glorious Revolution have on the American Colonies?
The Glorious Revolution had a significant effect on the American colonies. King James II had created as many problems in the American colonies as he had for England. Under the rule of King James II the colonists were under the direct control of the monarch. James II ruled as he saw fit and there was no one to stop him:
- Over half the governments of the colonies were under the direct control of James II
- James II refused to recognized the colonial charters that had been granted to the colonists
- He did not allow American colonists any say over laws and taxes
- As a staunch Catholic, James was attempting to replace Protestant institutions with Catholic ones
- The vast majority of Colonists were Protestants - Only 1.6% of the population were Catholics
- The Protestants detested the Catholics and feared the bloody persecutions they had left behind in Europe
The Glorious Revolution and Rebellion in the American Colonies
The Glorious Revolution was greeted with great joy in England but the results of the Glorious Revolution was also seen as an example for the American colonists. The English had rebelled against the monarchy so why shouldn't the American colonies? A precedent had been set. The effect of the Glorious Revolution on the American Colonies sewed the idea of revolution in the colonies. In Boston Puritan militiamen seized Governor-in-Chief Andros and put him in jail. The New England colonies begin to re-establish governments. Jacob Leisler led the insurrection against local colonial officials from 1689 to 1691 in colonial New York. There was a Protestant Rebellion against the Catholic dominated government in Maryland in 1689. Order returned to the colonies in 1691 when royal authority was re-established. The colonies reverted to their previous forms of government and new charters were eventually issued by King William III and Queen Mary II. The Glorious Revolution and the subsequent revolts in the colonies were precursors to the American Revolution.
Signing Jacob Leisler's Declaration
Summary of Rebellion in the American Colonies sparked by the Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution sparked the following rebellions in the American colonies. These were isolated incidents and they were relatively short-lived.
- Puritans in Boston rebelled against Governor-in-Chief Andros
- Jacob Leisler led a rebellion in colonial New York
The full scale American Revolution only happened when all of the colonies united against British rule.
Meaning and Definition of the Glorious Revolution
History of the Glorious Revolution of 1688
Fast Facts and info about Glorious Revolution in England for kids
Social Studies Homework help for kids on the Glorious Revolution of 1688