Causes of the Glorious Revolution 1688-1689 (Religion? Politics?)

Topics: James II of England, William III of England, Mary II of England Pages: 5 (1756 words) Published: August 5, 2008
In English history, the events of 1688 to 1689 lead to the deposition of James II and the ascension of William III and Mary II to the English throne. Those events are known as the Glorious Revolution. In the origins and outcome of the Glorious Revolution, religion plays a significant role, however; politics also had a key role to play. In 17th Century England, religion and politics came close to being a single entity. Religion played a major role in the decisions made in the courts and parliament, and politics decided which religion would be dominant. Religion was not the sole cause for the Glorious Revolution; it needed the spice of politics to heat things up.

The origins of the Glorious Revolution have they’re roots back when Charles II was placed on the throne. People already had their misgivings about Charles II as the Stuarts were suspected of favoring Roman Catholicism and wanting to restore an absolute monarchy. Also adding to the quiet discord running through parliament and the populace, Charles II usually favored alliances with Catholic Powers, i.e. France, and was also unresponsive to parliament. When Charles II was on his deathbed, a parliamentary group, called the Whigs, tried to ensure a protestant successor by excluding the Duke of York, later James II, from the throne. As James openly practiced his own religion, Catholicism, it is surprising that he was widely accepted as being the next in line and thus the Whigs lost their bid to keep James II off the throne.

When James ascended the thrown, in 1685, the ruling classes welcomed him, as he was a quiet, sober, hard-working man, unlike his brother. It was considered quite natural for James to practice his own religion and some people even commended him for doing so. It was only when James started making politically inappropriate moves that trouble started stirring. One move James II made was to push parliament into getting rid of the penal laws that prevented Roman Catholics from worshipping freely in their own way and required them to attend Church of England services. This, as well as openly practicing his Catholicism which was once thought of as commendable, irritated the Anglican Church even more.

Since religion was a major part in the lives of 17th Century citizens, when James went against the mainstream religion it was obviously going to cause conflict not only within the Church but in parliament too. Thus, religion played a major role in the origins of the Glorious Revolution. After a few years, James had managed to estrange most of the powerful groups in England by putting Catholics in strong leadership positions. He had appointed Catholics to govern Scotland, to command the English Navy and to lead the English Army stationed in Ireland. For the powerful groups in England, most of them tangled in politics, that was enough of an excuse to rebel against the King but then he supplanted many country lords with men who lacked wealth and prestige, who were also loyal to the king and were also usually Catholics. James had begun to slowly build up his standing army, which worried several groups in parliament as well as the rural gentry as much of the army was garrisoned in the country.

These moves made by James II seemed to point towards absolutism. Since France, already known as being a staunch patron of absolutism, had already shown in the 1672 war against the Dutch that she was evidently Catholic, aggressive, and militarily powerful, it did not take much for these powerful groups to realise the relationship between Catholicism and absolutism, and standing armies. As James was known as being somewhat abrupt and subjective in government, an avid follower of Rome, and was forming an army loyal to the throne, Englishmen could see that all the elements for absolutism seemed to be present. With religion being so tightly tied in with politics, religion was bound to play a significant role in the Glorious Revolution.

Although James II had...
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