House of Commons Information Office
The Glorious Revolution
Contents Introduction 2 Events of 1685 – 1689 2 1685: succession of James II 2 1686: repeal of the Test Acts 2 1687: Declaration of Indulgence 3 1688: the Glorious Revolution 3 1689: Bill of RIghts 4 Historical Interpretations 4 Appendix A 6 The Declaration of Rights: February 13 1689 6 Further reading 8 Contact information 8 Feedback form 9
The term Glorious Revolution refers to the series of events in 1688-89 which culminated in the exile of King James II and the accession to the throne of William and Mary. It has also been seen as a watershed in the development of the constitution and especially of the role of Parliament. This Factsheet is an attempt to explain why. This Factsheet is available on the internet through: http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/guides/facts heets1/
August 2010 FS No.G4 Ed 3.2 ISSN 0144-4689 © Parliamentary Copyright (House of Commons) 2002 May be reproduced for purposes of private study or research without permission. Reproduction for sale or other commercial purposes not permitted.
The Glorious Revolution House of Commons Information Office Factsheet G4
The Glorious Revolution is a term used to describe the peaceful way in which Parliament asserted its rights over the monarchy in 1688. This Factsheet begins with a chronology of the events that took place between 1685 and 1689 starting with the death of Charles II and culminating in the Bill of Rights in 1689. The Factsheet then looks at some historical interpretations of these events.
Events of 1685 – 1689
1685: succession of James II On 6 February Charles II died and was succeeded by his brother, the Catholic James II. In spite of widespread fears of Catholicism, and the previous attempts which had been made to exclude James II from the throne, the succession occurred without incident. In fact on 19 May, when James's Parliament met, it was overwhelmingly loyalist in composition. The House voted James for life the same revenues his brother had enjoyed. Indeed after the suppressed invasions by the Dukes of Argyle and Monmouth1, the Commons voted additional grants, accompanied by fervent protestations of loyalty. However, this fervour did not last. When the House was recalled after the summer, James asked the Commons for more money for the maintenance of his standing army. He further antagonised them by asking for the repeal of the Test Acts. These were the 1673 Acts that required office holders to prove that they were not Catholics by making a declaration against transubstantiation2. Between 12 and 19 November Parliament declined to repeal the Acts and refused the extra money. In their reply to the King's speech parliament made it clear that the King's employment of Catholic officers was "of the greatest concern to the rights of all your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects" and begged him to allay their "apprehensions and jealousies". On 20 November, James prorogued Parliament, realising that they would not agree to repeal the penal laws against Catholics. 1686: repeal of the Test Acts In April, in a collusive law case, Godden v Hales, the judges ruled that James II could dispense with the Test Acts without the consent of Parliament in individual cases. The King began to introduce Roman Catholics and some dissenters into the army, universities, and even posts within the Anglican Church. On 15 July an Ecclesiastical Commission was set up, to which the King's powers as Governor of the Church of England were delegated. This Commission could deprive the clergy of their functions, and one of its first acts was to suspend Henry Compton, Bishop of London, because he had refused to suspend a London clergyman who had preached against Roman Catholicism. A papal envoy was even received with honour in Whitehall. In Scotland, the Marquis of Queensberry was dismissed as Royal Commissioner when the Scottish...