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James II and the 1688 Revolution

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1 James II and the 1688 Revolution
Gabriel Glickman

2 James II – conflicting verdicts
Rev. Alexander Shields (Scottish Presbyterian minister): ‘a king who has surmounted all the lusts, impudence, and insolence of all the Roman, Sicilian, Turkish, Tartarian, or Indian Tyrants that ever trampled upon the Liberties of Mankind’ Isabella Duke (English Presbyterian): ‘tis the merriest time in England that ever I remember... a time to relish the peace, the liberty, the tranquillity sweet England affords us’

3 A conflicted historiography
Whig narrative (Macaulay, Trevelyan) – Revolution fought to safe and strengthen English constitutional liberties. Revisionist challenge (Miller, Goldie, Israel, Scott): James’s prime interest not political autocracy but religious toleration, especially but not exclusively for Catholics. Revolution fought on grounds of religion more than politics i.e. Protestant fears of a Catholic king. Revolution as much a ‘restoration’ i.e. saving the powers and privileges of the Church of England. Revolution more violent (e.g. in Scotland and Ireland) and more international than Whig narrative allowed.

4 Recent scholarship Challenges to aspects of revisionist argument.
Harris – religion and politics cannot be easily disentangled: therefore secular as well as religious causes. Pincus – James not just a religious thinker: has secular programme for imperial modernisation and absolutism inspired by Louis XIV. Revolution therefore seen as more secular, and not totally dependent on Dutch invasion.

5 The duke of York in Restoration politics
James aims to establish reputation as imperialist and patriot: serves as Lord High Admiral, Proprietor of New York, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, President of the Royal African Company.  Reputation damaged by alleged preference for arbitrary government - Samuel Pepys, 1667: ‘The design is, and the Duke of York ... is hot for it, to have a land army; and so to make the government like that of France, but our princes have not brains, or at least care and forecast enough, to do that’.  -Escalating political row after he declares himself a Catholic in response to 1673 Test Act. Bill of Exclusion lodged against James in Parliament, November 1678.  – James restores reputation through successful governance of Scotland.

6 Strength of the throne in 1685
James II the richest monarch since Henry VIII thanks to French subsidies; has largest navy in Europe. Loyal addresses sent in e.g. from Sheriff of Northumberland -‘No County in England can proclaime him with more Acclamation of Joy nor express more intire resolutions to serve him with our lives and fortunes’. 30,000 celebrate coronation on the streets of Edinburgh, 10 February 1685. Only 57 Whigs returned to the 1685 English parliament (out of 513 MPs). July-August 1685 – defeat of Monmouth/Argyll rebellions and execution of 250 insurgents.

7 James as king – political absolutism
February 1687 – proclaims belief in his ‘Sovereign Authority, Prerogative Royal and Absolute Power’, which all subjects to ‘obey without Reserve’. Creation of Dominion of New England under a single governor: reduction in power of colonial assemblies. Creation of Ecclesiastical Commission to regulate Church of England and guarantee its obedience. November 1685 – dissolution of Westminster Parliament over opposition to rise in the standing army.

8 James as king – religious toleration
1687, 1688 – Declarations of Indulgence to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters: Catholics brought onto Privy Council 1,200 Quakers released from prison. Dispensations from Test Act – Catholics and Dissenters brought into public position in local corporations. Attempt to release crown from dependence on old Tory Anglican allies.

9 James and the question of toleration
Gilbert Burnet (Whig clergyman) on James in Scotland ‘he advised the bishops to proceed moderately, and to take no notice of conventicles in houses’ . James II – ‘conscience ought not to be constrained’. James II - Persecution = ‘decay of trade, wasting of Lands, and Extinguishing of Charity’, wants to find a new way to ‘Unite the Hearts and Affections of Our Subjects...’ (Edinburgh, 1687)  Political background – Stuart crown’s support for toleration against Puritan oligarchies in New England.

10 Toleration - causes of mistrust
Toleration introduced through authoritarian measures in England 13 out of 40 Privy Councillors = Catholic, plus 16 out of 43 Lord Lieutenants by 1688. Catholic takeover of Magdalen College, Oxford Establishment of Electoral Regulators. Attempted Catholic transformation in Ireland under earl of Tyrconnell: - 11 new Catholics placed on Irish Privy Council by May 1686. - By September per cent of lower ranks in Irish army, and 40 per cent of the officers = Catholic. European background – Louis XIV and the revocation of Edict of Nantes (October 1685).

11 Tory-Anglican resistance
Legal challenge to royal policies e.g. Godden vs Hales, 1686. Church of England sermons and pamphlets attack rise in Catholic power – works of John Tillotson, Thomas Tenison, Edward Stillingfleet. Refusal to read out Declaration of Indulgence in churches. June 1688 – trial and acquittal of the Seven Bishops ignites popular discontent.. Austrian ambassador - people who had previously ‘suppressed their disaffection’, now express it ‘without fear’.

12 The Whig revival Gilbert Burnet – England ‘a free nation’, with ‘its Liberties and Properties reserved to it by many positive and express Laws’. If ‘we have a right to our Property, we must likewise be supposed to have a right to preserve it...’ Renewal of links with Whig exiles in United Provinces e.g. John Locke, Gilbert Burnet, Robert Ferguson, Sir James Dalrymple March 1688: General Hugh MacKay refuses to return the Anglo-Scottish brigades in Dutch service. 30 June 1688: letter of the ‘Immortal Seven’ to William of Orange, drafted by Whig grandees the Earl of Devonshire, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Edmund Russell, Henry Sidney, also incl. Tories the Earl of Danby and Bishop Compton of London, and ex-Catholic Lord Lumley.

13 Religious opposition in Scotland and Ireland
Sectarian riots at Kilkenny and within the Pale, October 1686. 25 per cent of Protestant population of Dublin emigrate, as do 16 per cent of population of Cork. Presbyterians in Scotland offered only limited toleration, so hostile to royal policies. Mob attacks on Edinburgh Catholic houses and chapels, 1686 Debate in Scotland more ideologically-charged because James more open in calling himself ‘absolute’. e.g. Robert Ferguson, Whig Presbyterian minister, condemns Declaration of Indulgence as ‘an unpresidented exercise of Despoticalness, as hardly any of the Oriental Tyrants or even the French Leviathan would have ventured upon’.

14 Key actor in the Revolution – William of Orange
William fears renewal of Anglo-French alliance will result in a repeat of Louis XIV’s 1673 attack on the United Provinces. September 1688: Louis sends 70,000 troops into the Palatinate, leaving the Channel coast unprotected. 30 September 1688: The Prince of Orange His Declaration – accepts policy of Indulgence but opposes repeal of the Test Act, justifies his plan to invade with appeal to the liberties of the ancient constitution. 5 November – Dutch fleet lands at Torbay: international army of 21,000 men.

15 November-December 1688 – collapse of the regime
Earl of Danby seizes York and earl of Devonshire takes Nottingham in service of the Prince of Orange Defections of Princess Anne, her husband the Prince of Denmark and General John Churchill - James II withdraws army from Salisbury Plain. After William’s landing, Tories fail to rise up in support of James II and London collapses into mob disorder. December – final flight of James II from England. 28 December 1688 – William rides into London. - Pope Innocent XI: ‘The Prince of Orange is master. He is arbiter of Europe’. - Marquis of Halifax: ‘As no-one knew what to do with him, so no-one knew what to do without him’.

16 Revolution awakens political and religious tensions across British Isles
Scotland - return of militant Presbyterianism: Clergyman in Ayr ‘this is an Interregnum... When one King removed and another not yet set up’, therefore ‘the godly’ can pursue ‘a Military Way of Reformation’. February 1689 – Presbyterians mobilise petition of 40,000 names, demanding abolition of Episcopalian Church. Ireland- the return of militant Catholicism: May 1689 – new Dublin Parliament plans repeal of Act of Settlement (1662), attainder against 2,000 Protestants. Revokes Act of Navigation – economic freedom for Ireland.

17 England and America- conflict between Tory and Whig ‘revolutionaries’
Henry Booth, Lord Delamere – radical Whig case: that ‘God almighty did on purpose permit the Jewish constitution to be changed’, and ‘if any people found theirs to be out of order, the blame rested at their doors if it was not reformed’ (November 1688). Tories e.g. earl of Danby, Sir Edward Seymour, Sir Thomas Clarges push conservative interpretation – they acted for defence of Church of England, not to depose James. Boston, New York – radicals, Puritans, Dissenters rise up and expel James II’s governor-generals. Maryland – Church of England uprising overthrows Catholic governor and mixed Catholic/ Dissenting council - replaced by narrow and intolerant Anglican polity.

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