|Event Name:||The Glorious Revolution|
|Aka:||Revolution of 1688|
War of the English Succession
|Participants:||English, Welsh and Scottish society|
|Result:||Replacement of James II by William and Mary|
Jacobite war in Scotland
Williamite war in Ireland
War with France; England and Scotland join Grand Alliance
Drafting of the English Bill of Rights
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the name of the overthrow of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland and James II of Ireland) by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange). William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascending the English throne as William III of England jointly with his wife Mary II of England.
King James's policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition by members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the king's catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the king came to a head in 1688, with the birth of the King's son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on 10 June (Julian calendar). This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive, his daughter Mary, a protestant and the wife of William of Orange, with young James as heir apparent. The establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms was now likely. Some of the most influential 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, which the stadtholder, who feared an Anglo-French alliance, had indicated as a condition for a military intervention.
After consolidating political and financial support, William crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay. After only two minor clashes between the two opposing armies in England, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns, James's regime collapsed, largely by a lack of resolve shown by the king. However, this was followed by the protracted Williamite War in Ireland and Dundee's rising in Scotland. In England's geographically-distant American colonies, the revolution led to the collapse of the Dominion of New England and the overthrow of the Province of Maryland's government. Following a defeat of his forces at the Battle of Reading on 9 December, James and his wife fled the nation; James, however, returned to London for a two-week period that culminated in his final departure for France on 23 December. By threatening to withdraw his troops, William in February 1689 convinced a newly chosen Convention Parliament to make him and his wife joint monarchs.
The Revolution permanently ended any chance of Catholicism becoming re-established in England. For British Catholics its effects were disastrous both socially and politically: Catholics were denied the right to vote and sit in the Westminster Parliament for over a century; they were also denied commissions in the army, and the monarch was forbidden to be catholic or to marry a catholic, a prohibition that continues to 2012. The Revolution led to limited toleration for nonconformist Protestants, although it would be some time before they had full political rights. It has been 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.
Internationally, the Revolution was related to the War of the Grand Alliance on mainland Europe. It has been seen as the last successful invasion of England. It ended all attempts by England in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century to subdue the Dutch Republic by military force. However, the resulting economic integration and military co-operation between the English and Dutch Navies shifted the dominance in world trade from the Dutch Republic to England and later to Great Britain.
The expression "Glorious Revolution" was first used by John Hampden in late 1689, and is an expression that is still used by the British Parliament. The Glorious Revolution is also occasionally termed the Bloodless Revolution, albeit inaccurately. 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.
During his three-year reign, King James II became directly involved in the political battles in England between Catholicism and Protestantism, on the one hand, and on the other, between the Divine Right of Kings and the political rights of the Parliament of England. James's greatest political problem was his Catholicism, which left him alienated from both parties in England. The low church Whigs had failed in their attempt to pass the Exclusion Bill to exclude James from the throne between 1679 and 1681, and James's supporters were the high church Anglican Tories. In Scotland, his supporters on the Parliament of Scotland increased attempts to force the Covenanters to renounce their faith and accept episcopalian rule of the church by the monarch.
When James inherited the English throne in 1685, he had much support in the 'Loyal Parliament', which was composed mostly of Tories. His Catholicism was a concern to many, but the fact that he had no son, and his daughters were Protestants, was a "saving grace". James's attempt to relax the penal laws alienated his natural supporters, however, because the Tories viewed this as tantamount to disestablishment of the Church of England. Abandoning the Tories, James looked to form a 'King's party' as a counterweight to the Anglican Tories, so in 1687 James supported the policy of religious toleration and issued the Declaration of Indulgence. By allying himself with the Catholics, Dissenters, and nonconformists, James hoped to build a coalition that would advance Catholic emancipation.
In May 1686, James decided to obtain from the English courts of the common law a ruling which affirmed his power to dispense with Acts of Parliament. He dismissed judges who disagreed with him on this matter as well as the Solicitor General Heneage Finch. Eleven out of the twelve judges ruled in favour of dispensing power.
In April 1687, James ordered the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford to elect a Catholic, Anthony Farmer, as their president. The fellows believed Farmer ineligible under the college's statutes and so elected John Hough instead. The college statutes required them to fill the vacancy within a certain time and so could not wait for a further royal nomination. James refused to view Hough's election as valid and told the fellows to elect the Bishop of Oxford. James responded by sending some ecclesiastical commissioners to hold a visitation and install him as president. The fellows then agreed to the Bishop of Oxford as their president but James required that they admit they had been in the wrong and ask for his pardon. When they refused most of the fellows were ejected and replaced by Catholics.
In 1687, James prepared to pack Parliament with his supporters so that it would repeal the Test Act and the penal laws. James was convinced by addresses from Dissenters that he had their support and so could dispense with relying on Tories and Anglicans. James instituted a wholesale purge of those in offices under the crown opposed to James's plan. In August the lieutenancy was remodelled and in September over one thousand members of the city livery companies were ejected. In October James gave orders for the lords lieutenants in the provinces to provide three standard questions to all members of the Commission of the Peace: would they consent to the repeal of the Test Act and the penal laws; would they assist candidates who would do so; and they were requested to accept the Declaration of Indulgence. In December it was announced that all the offices of deputy lieutenants and Justices of the Peace would be revised. Therefore, during the first three months of 1688, hundreds of those asked the three questions who gave hostile replies were dismissed. More far-reaching purges were applied to the towns: in November a regulating committee was founded to operate the purges. Corporations were purged by agents given wide discretionary powers in an attempt to create a permanent royal electoral machine.. Finally, on 24 August 1688, James ordered writs to be issued for a general election.
James also created a large standing army and employed Catholics in positions of power within it. To his opponents in Parliament this seemed like a prelude to arbitrary rule, so James prorogued Parliament without gaining Parliament's consent. At this time, the English regiments of the army were encamped at Hounslow, near the capital. It was feared that the location was intended to overawe the City. The army in Ireland was purged of Protestants, who were replaced with Catholics, and by 1688 James had more than 34,000 men under arms in his three kingdoms.In April 1688, James re-issued the Declaration of Indulgence and ordered all clergymen to read it in their churches. When the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Sancroft, and six other bishops (the Seven Bishops) wrote to James asking him to reconsider his policies, they were arrested on charges of seditious libel, but at trial they were acquitted to the cheers of the London crowd.
Matters came to a head in June 1688, when the King fathered a son, James; until then, the throne would have passed to his daughter, Mary, a Protestant. The prospect of a Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland was now likely.
Mary had a husband, her cousin William Henry of Orange. Both were Protestants and grandchildren of Charles I of England. Before the birth of James's son on 10 June, William had been third in the line of succession. However, there was a strong faction at the English court, headed by Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, proposing that Mary and William, because of their anti-Catholic position, should be replaced by some Catholic French heir.
William was also stadtholder of the main provinces of the Dutch Republic, then in the preliminary stages of joining the War of the Grand Alliance against France, in a context of international tensions caused by the revocation by Louis XIV of the Edict of Nantes and the disputed succession of Cologne and the Palatinate. William had already acquired the reputation of being the main champion in Europe of the Protestant cause against Catholicism and French absolutism; in the developing English crisis he saw an opportunity to prevent an Anglo-French alliance and bring England to the anti-French side, by carrying out a military intervention directed against James. This suited the desires of several English politicians who intended to depose James. It is still a matter of controversy whether the initiative for the conspiracy was taken by the English or by the stadtholder and his wife. William had been trying to influence English politics for well over a year, letting Grand Pensionary Gaspar Fagel publish an open letter to the English people in November 1687 deploring the religious policy of James, which action had generally been interpreted as a covert bid for kingship.
Since he had become king the relation between James and his nephew and son-in-law had gradually deteriorated. At first William welcomed the promise of a less pro-French policy. In 1685 he sent the Scottish and English mercenary regiments of his army to England to assist in putting down the Monmouth Rebellion. Soon however, James's policy of religious tolerance caused tensions to rise between them. William assumed it was but the first step towards a total re-Catholisation of England and was unable to explain how James could hope to achieve this goal unless he had concluded a secret alliance with France. James's refusal to enter any anti-French coalition and his efforts to reorganise the Royal Navy increased William's suspicions. In the previous years the French navy had enormously grown in strength and the Dutch Republic would no longer be able to resist a combined Anglo-French attack. William feared that even English neutrality would not suffice and that control over the Royal Navy was a prerequisite for a successful naval campaign against France.
In November 1686 James had wished to gain William's support for the repeal of the Test Acts, as this would have delivered a blow to the English opposition. The Quaker William Penn was sent to The Hague but William opposed repeal. William's envoy Everhard van Weede Dijkvelt visited England between February and May 1687, instructed to persuade James to help contain French aggression. William also instructed Dijkvelt to let it be known that he would support the Church of England; that he was not a Presbyterian; to persuade the Dissenters not to support James and to reassure moderate Catholics. After having been assured by James that all rumours about a French alliance were malevolent fabrications, Dijkvelt returned to the Republic, with letters of varying importance from leading English statesmen. James tried again to gain William's support but William responded by advising James to keep to the law and not to try to extend his prerogative powers. In August 1687 Count William Nassau de Zuylestein was sent to England, ostensibly to send condolences due to the death of the queen's mother. Zuylestein was sent in part to see how successful, or amenable, James's packed Parliament would be, and have discussions with English statesmen, with Zuylestein sending back to William letters from them.
The correspondence between William and the English politicians was, at first, sent by ordinary post to genuine addresses in either country and then distributed. Devices were used such as ending a postscript with "etc." which meant spaces were actually written in white or invisible ink. However, as conspiracy neared completion in 1688, the English government sometimes used to disrupt this correspondence by holding up the whole mail delivery system. Another way was used to keep this clandestine correspondence flowing: letters were sent in merchant ships between London and Amsterdam or Rotterdam, with outward bound letters often put on board below Gravesend, as this would be after the final customs clearance. Also, couriers for the purpose were sometimes used and all Dutch diplomats travelling to and from either country carried the correspondence. Shortly before the invasion, when fast delivery and secrecy was essential, fast yachts and small vessels were used for special courier services. The English government intercepted very few of these means of communication.
It has been suggested that the crisis caused by the prospect of a new Catholic heir made William decide to invade the next summer as early as November 1687, but this is disputed. It is certain however that in April 1688, when France and England concluded a naval agreement that stipulated that the French would finance an English squadron in The Channel, which seemed to be the beginning of a formal alliance, he seriously began to prepare for a military intervention and seek political and financial support for such an undertaking.
William laid careful plans over a number of months for an invasion, which he hoped to execute in September 1688. William would not invade England without assurances of English support, and so in April, he asked for a formal invitation to be issued by a group of leading English statesmen. Gilbert Burnet recorded a conversation at the end of April between William and Admiral Edward Russell:
In May, Russell told William that the English opposition to James would not wait any longer for help and they would rise against James in any event. William feared that if he did not now head the conspiracy the English would set up a republic, even more inimical to the Dutch state. In June, William sent Count Zuylestein to England, ostensibly to congratulate James on the birth of the Prince of Wales but in reality to communicate with William's associates.
Only after the Prince of Wales had been born in June, however, and many suspected he was supposititious, did the Immortal Seven (who consisted of one bishop and six nobles) decide to comply, with the letter to William dated 18 June (Julian calendar), reaching him in The Hague on 30 June, and dispatched by Rear Admiral Herbert, disguised as a common sailor. The Seven consisted of Lord Shrewsbury, Lord Devonshire, Lord Danby, Lord Lumley, Henry Compton, Edward Russell, and Henry Sidney. The invitation declared:
The Seven went on to claim that "much the greatest part of the nobility and gentry" were dissatisfied and would rally to William, and that James's army "would be very much divided among themselves; many of the officers being so discontented that they continue in their service only for a subsistence...and very many of the common soldiers do daily shew such an aversion to the Popish religion, that there is the greatest probability imaginable of great numbers of deserters...and amongst the seamen, it is almost certain, there is not one in ten who would do them any service in such a war". The Seven believed that the situation would be much worse before another year due to James's plans to remodel the army by the means of a packed Parliament or, should the parliamentary route fail, through violent means which would "prevent all possible means of relieving ourselves". The Seven also promised to rally to William upon his landing in England and would "do all that lies in our power to prepare others to be in as much readiness as such an action is capable of".
William's confidant Hans Willem Bentinck launched a propaganda campaign in England, presenting William as being, in fact, a true Stuart but one blessedly free from the, according to the pamphlets, usual Stuart vices of cryptocatholicism, absolutism, and debauchery. Much of the later "spontaneous" support for William had been carefully organised by him and his agents.
In August, it became clear that William had surprisingly strong support within the English army, a situation brought about by James himself. In January 1688 he had forbidden any of his subjects to serve the Dutch and had demanded that the Republic dissolve its mercenary Scottish and English regiments. When this was refused, he asked that at least those willing would be released from their martial oath to be free to return to Britain. To this William consented as it would purify his army of Jacobite elements. In total 104 officers and 44 soldiers returned. The officers were enlisted within the British armies and so favoured that the established officer corps began to fear for its position. On 14 August Lord Churchill wrote to William: "I owe it to God and my country to put my honour into the hands of Your Highness". Nothing comparable happened within the Royal Navy, however; claims after the event by certain captains that they had somehow prevented the English fleet to engage seem to have been little more than attempts at self-aggrandisement.
For William the English problem was inextricably intertwined with the situation in Germany. Only if the attention of Louis XIV was directed to the east, could William hope to intervene in England without French interference. For this it was essential that Austria continued opposing the French demands regarding Cologne and the Palatinate. In May, William sent an envoy, Johann von Görtz, privy councillor of Hesse-Cassel, to Vienna to secretly ensure the support of the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I. Learning that William promised not to persecute the Catholics in England, the emperor approved of the expedition, promising in turn to try making peace with the Ottoman Empire to free his forces for a campaign in the West; on 4 September 1688 he would join an alliance with the Republic against France. The Duke of Hanover, Ernest Augustus and the Elector of Saxony, John George III, assured William that they would remain neutral, though it had been feared they would take the French side.
The next concern was to assemble a powerful invasion force – contrary to the wishes of the English conspirators, who predicted that a token force would be sufficient. For this William needed funding by the city of Amsterdam, then the world's main financial centre. In earlier years Amsterdam had been strongly pro-French, often forcing William to moderate his policies, but a tariff war waged by Louis from 1687 against the Republic and French import limitations on herring, a major Dutch export, had outraged the wealthy merchants. Nevertheless, only after secret and difficult negotiations by Bentinck with the hesitant Amsterdam burgomasters during June could 260 transports be hired. Additionally, the burghers were uneasy about the prospect of denuding their homeland of its defences by sending the field army – roughly half of the total peace-time strength of the Dutch States Army of about 30,000 – overseas. Bentinck, who had already been sent in May to Brandenburg to recruit, but without much result, therefore negotiated contracts from 20 July (Gregorian calendar) for 13,616 German mercenaries from Brandenburg, Württemberg, Hesse-Cassel, and Celle to man Dutch border fortresses in order to free an equal number of Dutch elite mercenary troops for use against England. As the Dutch would typically double or triple their total army strength in wartime, the numbers were low enough to be explained as a limited precaution against French aggression. Shortly afterwards, Marshal Frederick Schomberg was instructed by William to prepare for a Western campaign.Further financial support was obtained from the most disparate sources: the Jewish banker Francisco Lopes Suasso lent two million guilders; when asked what security he desired, Suasso answered: "If you are victorious, you will surely repay me; if not, the loss is mine". Even Pope Innocent XI, an inveterate enemy of Louis XIV of France, provided a loan to William, though a relation with the invasion has been denied. Total costs were seven million guilders, four million of which would ultimately be paid for by a state loan. In the summer the Dutch navy was expanded to 9000 sailors on the pretext of fighting the Dunkirkers. The standard summer equipment of twenty warships was secretly doubled. On 13 July 1688 (Gregorian calendar) it was decided to build 21 new warships.
Despite all the preparations, William had great trouble convincing the Dutch class of city and provincial rulers, the regents, that such an expensive expedition was really necessary. Also, he personally feared that the French might attack the Republic through Flanders when its army was tied up in England. One of the "Seven", Lord Danby, suggested postponing the invasion until the following year. By early September, William was on the brink of cancelling the entire expedition when French policy played into his hand.
In Germany, matters had come to a head. The pope had refused to confirm Louis's favourite candidate for the bishopric of Cologne, William Egon of Fürstenberg. Enraged, the French king decided to execute a lightning campaign into Germany before the emperor could shift his troops to the West. Louis also hoped to keep his Turkish ally in the war this way. For the immediate future James had to hold his own, something Louis expected him to be quite capable of, especially if the Dutch were intimidated. On 9 September (Gregorian calendar) the French envoy Jean Antoine de Mesmes, the Comte d'Avaux, handed two letters from the French king, who had known of the invasion plans since May, to the States-General of the Netherlands. In the first they were warned not to attack James. In the second they were advised not to interfere with the French policy in Germany. James hurriedly distanced himself from the first message, trying to convince the States-General that there was no secret Anglo-French alliance against them. This however, had precisely the opposite effect: many members became extremely suspicious. The second message proved that the main French effort was directed to the east, not the north, so there was no immediate danger of a French invasion for the Republic itself.
From 22 September, Louis XIV seized all Dutch ships present in French ports, totalling about a hundred vessels, apparently proving that real war with France was imminent, though Louis had meant it to be a mere warning. On 26 September the powerful city council of Amsterdam decided to officially support the invasion. On 27 September Louis crossed the Rhine into Germany to attack Philippsburg and William began to move the Dutch field army from the eastern borders, where it had trained on the Mookerheide, to the coast, even though most of the new mercenaries had not yet arrived.
On 29 September the States of Holland, the government of the most important Dutch province, fearing a French-English alliance, gathered in secret session and approved the operation, agreeing to make the English "King and Nation live in a good relation, and useful to their friends and allies, and especially to this State". They accepted William's argument that a preventive strike was necessary to avoid a repeat of the events of 1672, when England and France had jointly attacked the Republic, "an attempt to bring this state to its ultimate ruin and subjugation, as soon as they find the occasion". William denied any intention "to remove the King from the throne or become master of England". The States ordered a Dutch fleet of 53 warships to escort the troop transports. This fleet was in fact commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest on the Cortgene and Vice-Admiral Philips van Almonde on the Provincie Utrecht but in consideration of English sensitivities placed, on 6 October, under the nominal command of Rear-Admiral Herbert, who for the occasion was appointed Lieutenant-Admiral-General, i.e. acting supreme commander, of the Dutch navy. He sailed on the Leyden, accompanied by Lieutenant-Admiral Willem Bastiaensz Schepers, the Rotterdam shipping magnate who had organised the transport fleet. Though William was himself Admiral-General of the Republic, he, as was usual, abstained from operational command, sailing conspicuously on the new frigate Den Briel. The States-General allowed the core regiments of the Dutch field army to participate under command of Marshall Schomberg. Despite being assisted in it by the regular Dutch fleet and field army, his attempt to change the situation in England was, as the States-General made explicit, officially a private family affair of William, merely acting in his capacity of concerned nephew and son-in-law to James, not an undertaking of the Dutch Republic as such.
The Dutch preparations, though carried out with great speed, could not remain secret. The English envoy Ignatius White, the Marquess d'Albeville, warned his country: "an absolute conquest is intended under the specious and ordinary pretences of religion, liberty, property and a free Parliament...". Louis XIV threatened the Dutch with an immediate declaration of war, should they carry out their plans. Embarkations, started on 22 September (Gregorian calendar), had been completed on 8 October, and the expedition was that day openly approved by the States of Holland; the same day James issued a proclamation to the English nation that it should prepare for a Dutch invasion to ward off conquest. On 30 September/10 October (Julian/Gregorian calendars) William issued the Declaration of The Hague (actually written by Fagel), of which 60,000 copies of the English translation by Gilbert Burnet were distributed after the landing in England, in which he assured that his only aim was to maintain the Protestant religion, install a free parliament and investigate the legitimacy of the Prince of Wales. He would respect the position of James. William declared:
William went on to condemn James's advisers for overturning the religion, laws, and liberties of England, Scotland, and Ireland by the use of the suspending and dispensing power; the establishment of the "manifestly illegal" commission for ecclesiastical causes and its use to suspend the Bishop of London and to remove the Fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford. William also condemned James's attempt to repeal the Test Acts and the penal laws through pressuring individuals and waging an assault on parliamentary boroughs, as well as his purging of the judiciary. James's attempt to pack Parliament was in danger of removing "the last and great remedy for all those evils". "Therefore", William continued, "we have thought fit to go over to England, and to carry over with us a force sufficient, by the blessing of God, to defend us from the violence of those evil Counsellors...this our Expedition is intended for no other design, but to have, a free and lawful Parliament assembled as soon as is possible".
On 4/14 October William responded to the allegations by James in a second declaration, denying any intention to become king or conquer England. Whether he had any at that moment is still controversial.
The swiftness of the embarkations surprised all foreign observers. Louis had in fact delayed his threats against the Dutch until early September because he assumed it then would be too late in the season to set the expedition in motion anyway, if their reaction proved negative; typically such an enterprise would take at least some months. Being ready after the last week of September / first week of October would normally have meant that the Dutch could have profited from the last spell of good weather, as the autumn storms tend to begin in the third week of that month. This year they came early however. For three weeks the invasion fleet was prevented by adverse south-westerly gales from departing from the naval port of Hellevoetsluis and Catholics all over the Netherlands and the British kingdoms held prayer sessions that this "popish wind" might endure. However, on 14/24 October it became the famous "Protestant Wind" by turning to the east.
James only in late August seriously began to consider the possibility of a Dutch invasion and then overestimated the size of the naval force the Dutch would bring against him. He assumed they would equip their full battle fleet, which he himself would for financial reasons be unable to match: in October about thirty English ships-of-the-line had been assembled, all third rates or fourth rates, while heavier vessels remained laid up. Fearing a surprise attack, he declined positioning this fleet at The Downs, for striking into the southern North Sea or the Channel the most convenient position, but also a very vulnerable one. When Admiral George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth decided to place his fleet at the Gunfleet near the Medway, in a rather withdrawn location, James therefore merely suggested to bring the fleet farther out, though he well understood it otherwise risked becoming locked up in the Thames estuary by the same easterly wind that would allow the Dutch to cross. This was influenced by his belief the Dutch might well attack France instead and his expectation that they would first seek a naval victory before daring to invade – and that it thus would be advantageous to refuse battle. Indeed it had originally been the Dutch intention to defeat the English first to free the way for the transport fleet – though they too, to lower the cost of the invasion, had not activated any heavier ships – but because it was now so late in the season and conditions on-board deteriorated rapidly, they decided to sail in convoy and, if possible, avoid battle.
On 16/26 October William boarded his ship, the Den Briel (Brill in English). His standard was hoisted, displaying the arms of Nassau quartered with those of England. The words Pro Religione et Libertate ("For Liberty and [the Protestant] Religion"), the slogan of William's ancestor William the Silent while leading the Dutch Revolt against Catholic Spain, were shown next to the House of Orange's motto, Je maintiendrai ("I will maintain"). William's fleet, with about 40,000 men aboard roughly twice the size of the Spanish Armada – and assembled in a tenth of the time – consisted of 463 ships, among which 49 warships of more than twenty cannon (eight could count as third rates of 60–68 cannon, nine were frigates), 28 galliots, nine fireships, 76 fluyts to carry the soldiers, 120 small transports to carry five thousand horses, about seventy supply vessels and sixty fishing vessels serving as landing craft. Most warships had been provided by the Admiralty of Amsterdam. On 19/29 October William's fleet departed from Hellevoetsluis and got approximately halfway between the Republic and England when the wind changed to the northwest and a gale scattered the fleet, with the Brill returning to Hellevoetsluis on 21/31 October. Despite suffering from sea-sickness William refused to go ashore and the fleet reassembled, having lost only one ship that grounded, though about a thousand crippled horses had been thrown into the sea. Press reports were released that deliberately exaggerated the damage and claimed the expedition would be postponed till the spring. English naval command now considered to try blockading Hellevoetsluis but decided against it because it was feared that the English fleet would founder on the Dutch coast, a dangerous lee shore for a blocking force, by the stormy weather.
Taking advantage of a wind again turned to the east, resupplied and re-equipped with new horses, the invasion fleet departed again on 1/11 November and sailed north in the direction of Harwich where Bentinck had a landing site prepared. It changed course to the south however when the wind turned more to the north; it has been suggested that the initial move to the north was a feint and indeed James diverted some of his forces in that direction. Thus they passed twice in sight of the English fleet, unable to intercept because of the adverse wind and an unfavourable tide. On 3/13 November the invasion fleet entered the English Channel through the Strait of Dover in an enormous square formation, 25 ships deep, the right and left of the fleet saluting Dover and Calais simultaneously, to show off its size. The troops were lined up on deck, firing musket volleys, with full colours flying and the military bands playing. Rapin de Thoyras, who was onboard one of the ships, described it as the most magnificent and affecting spectacle that was ever seen by human eyes. William intended to land at Torbay but due to fog the fleet sailed past it by mistake. The wind made a return impossible and Plymouth was unsuitable as it had a garrison. At this point, with the English fleet in pursuit, Russell told Burnet: "You may go to prayers, Doctor. All is over". At that moment however the wind changed and the fog lifted, enabling the fleet to sail into Torbay, near Brixham, Devon. William came ashore on 5/15 November. When Burnet was ashore he hastened to William and eagerly enquired of what William now intended to do. William regarded the interference in military matters by non-military personnel with disgust but he was in good humour at this moment and responded with a delicate reproof: "Well, Doctor, what do you think of predestination now?" The English squadron under Lord Dartmouth was forced by the same change in wind to shelter in Portsmouth harbour. During the next two days the army disembarked in calm weather.
William brought over 11,212 horse and foot. William's cavalry and dragoons amounted to 3,660. His artillery train contained 21 24-pounder cannon. Including supply train his force consisted of about 21,000 men, compared to James's total forces of 40,000. He also brought 20,000 stand of arms to equip his English supporters. The Dutch army was composed mostly of foreign mercenaries; there were Dutch, Scots, English, German, Swiss, and Swedish regiments, even Laplanders as well as "200 Blacks brought from the Plantations of the Netherlands in America", thus from the colony of Surinam. Many of the mercenaries were Catholic. William had his personal guard regiment with him, the Dutch Blue Guards. In response to the threat James had raised five new regiments of foot and five of horse, as well as bringing in Scottish and Irish soldiers. Louis XIV also sent James 300,000 livres.
The French fleet remained at the time concentrated in the Mediterranean, to assist a possible attack on the Papal State. Louis delayed his declaration of war until 16/26 November hoping at first that their involvement in a protracted English civil war would keep the Dutch from interfering with his German campaign. The same day a second attempt by Legge to attack the landing site again failed by an adverse southwestern gale. The Dutch call their fleet action the Glorieuze Overtocht, the "Glorious Crossing".
William considered his veteran army to be sufficient in size to defeat any forces (all rather inexperienced) which James could throw against him, but it had been decided to avoid the hazards of battle and maintain a defensive attitude in the hope James's position might collapse by itself; thus he landed far away from James's army, expecting that his English allies would take the initiative in acting against James while he ensured his own protection against potential attacks. William was prepared to wait; he had paid his troops in advance for a three-month campaign. A slow advance, apart from being necessitated by heavy rainfall anyway, had the added benefit of not over-extending the supply lines; the Dutch troops were under strict orders not even to forage, for fear that this would degenerate into plundering which would alienate the population.
On 9 November (Julian calendar) William took Exeter after the magistrates had fled the city, entering on a white palfrey, with the two hundred black men forming a guard of honour, dressed in white, with turbans and feathers. In the South support from the local gentry was disappointingly limited, but from 12 November, in the North, many nobles began to declare for William, as they had promised, often by a public reading of the Declaration. In Yorkshire, printer John White started to print the same document for a more widespread distribution. However, in the first weeks most people carefully avoided taking sides; as a whole the nation neither rallied behind its king, nor welcomed William, but passively awaited the outcome of events. In general, the mood was one of confusion, mutual distrust and depression.
James refused a French offer to send an expeditionary force, fearing that it would cost him domestic support. He tried to bring the Tories to his side by making concessions but failed because he still refused to endorse the Test Act. His forward forces had gathered at Salisbury, and James went to join them on 19 November with his main force, having a total strength of about 19,000. Amid anti-Catholic rioting in London, it rapidly became apparent that the troops were not eager to fight, and the loyalty of many of James' commanders was doubtful; he had been informed of the conspiracy within the army as early as September, but for unknown reasons had refused to arrest the officers involved. Some have argued, however, that if James had been more resolute, the army would have fought and fought well.
The first blood was shed at about this time in a skirmish at Wincanton, Somerset, where Royalist troops retreated after defeating a small party of scouts; the total body count on both sides came to about fifteen. In Salisbury, after hearing that some officers had deserted, among them Lord Cornbury, a worried James was overcome by a serious nose-bleed that he interpreted as an evil omen indicating that he should order his army to retreat, which the supreme army commander, the Earl of Feversham, also advised on 23 November. The next day, Lord Churchill of Eyemouth, one of James' chief commanders, deserted to William. On 26 November, James's own daughter, Princess Anne, who doubted the authenticity of her new brother, and who was greatly influenced by Churchill's wife Sarah Churchill, did the same. Both were serious losses. James returned to London that same day.
Meanwhile, on 18 November Plymouth had surrendered to William, and on 21 November he began to advance. By 24 November, William's forces were at Sherborne and on 1 December at Hindon. On 4 December he was at Amesbury, and was received by the mayor of Salisbury; three days later they had reached Hungerford, where the following day they met with the King's Commissioners to negotiate. James offered free elections and a general amnesty for the rebels. In reality, by that point James was simply playing for time, having already decided to flee the country. He feared that his English enemies would insist on his execution and that William would give in to their demands. Convinced that his army was unreliable, he sent orders to disband it. On 9 December, the two sides fought a second engagement with the Battle of Reading, a defeat for the King's men.
In December, there was anti-Catholic rioting in Bristol, Bury St. Edmunds, Hereford, York, Cambridge, and Shropshire. On 9 December a Protestant mob stormed Dover Castle, where the Catholic Sir Edward Hales was Governor, and seized it. On 8 December William met at last with James's representatives; he agreed to James's proposals but also demanded that all Catholics be immediately dismissed from state functions and that England pay for the Dutch military expenses. He received no reply, however.
In the night of 9/10 December, the Queen and the Prince of Wales fled for France. The next day saw James's attempt to escape, the king dropping The Great Seal in the Thames along the way, as no lawful Parliament could be summoned without it. However, he was captured on 11 December by fishermen in Faversham opposite Sheerness, the town on the Isle of Sheppey. On the same day, 27 Lords Spiritual and Temporal, forming a provisional government, decided to ask William to restore order but at the same time asked the king to return to London to reach an agreement with his son-in-law. On the night of 11 December there were riots and lootings of the houses of Catholics and several foreign embassies of Catholic countries in London. The following night a mass panic gripped London during what was later termed the Irish Night. False rumours of an impending Irish army attack on London circulated in the capital, and a mob of over 100,000 assembled ready to defend the city.
Upon returning to London on 16 December, James was welcomed by cheering crowds. He took heart at this and attempted to recommence government, even presiding over a meeting of the Privy Council. He sent the Earl of Feversham to William to arrange for a personal meeting to continue negotiations. Now for the first time it became evident that William had no longer any desire to keep James in power in England. He was extremely dismayed by the arrival of Lord Feversham. He refused the suggestion that he simply arrest James because this would violate his own declarations and burden his relationship with his wife. In the end it was decided that he should exploit James's fears; the three original commissioners were sent back to James with the message that William felt he could no longer guarantee the king's well-being and that James for his own safety had better leave London for Ham.
William at the same time ordered all English troops to depart from the capital, while his forces entered on 17 December; no local forces were allowed within a twenty-mile radius until the spring of 1690. Already the English navy had declared for William. James, by his own choice, went under Dutch protective guard to Rochester in Kent on 18 December, just as William entered London, cheered by crowds dressed in orange ribbons or waving, lavishly distributed, oranges. The Dutch officers had been ordered that "if he [James] wanted to leave, they should not prevent him, but allow him to gently slip through". James then left for France on 23 December after having received a request from his wife to join her, even though his followers urged him to stay. The lax guard on James and the decision to allow him so near the coast indicate that William may have hoped that a successful flight would avoid the difficulty of deciding what to do with him, especially with the memory of the execution of Charles I still strong. By fleeing, James ultimately helped resolve the awkward question of whether he was still the legal king or not, having created according to many a situation of interregnum.
On 28 December, William took over the provisional government by appointment of the peers of the realm, as was the legal right of the latter in circumstances when the King was incapacitated, and, on the advice of his Whig allies, summoned an assembly of all the surviving members of parliament of Charles II's reign, thus sidelining the Tories of the Loyal Parliament of 1685. This assembly called for a chosen English Convention Parliament, elected on 5 January 1689 NS, which convened on 22 January. William did not intervene in the election that followed. This elected body consisted of 513 members, 341 of whom had been elected before, 238 having been members of at least one Exclusion Bill Parliament, but only 193 having been elected in 1685. The name "Convention" was chosen because only the King could call a Parliament, although as William had been appointed de facto regent by the peers the Convention could be argued to be, strictly speaking, a lawful Parliament.
Although James had fled the country, he still had many followers, and William feared that the king might return, relegating William to the role of a mere regent, an outcome which was unacceptable to him. On 30 December, William, speaking to the Marquess of Halifax, threatened to leave England "if King James came again" and determined to go back to the Netherlands "if they went about to make him Regent".
The English Convention Parliament was very divided on the issue. The radical Whigs in the Lower House proposed to elect William as a king (meaning that his power would be derived from the people); the moderates wanted an acclamation of William and Mary together; the Tories wanted to make him regent or only acclaim Mary as Queen. On 28 January a committee of the whole House of Commons promptly decided by acclamation that James had broken "the original contract"; had "abdicated the government"; and had left the throne "vacant". The House of Lords wished to amend this, however, as many were still loyal to James and believed in the Anglican doctrine of non-resistance. The Lords rejected the proposal for a regency in James's name by 51 to 48 on 2 February. The Lords also substituted the word "abdicated" for "deserted" and removing the "vacancy" clause. The Lords voted against proclaiming William and Mary monarchs by 52 to 47. On 4 February the Lords reaffirmed their amendments to the Commons's resolution by 55 to 51 and 54 to 53. On 5 February the Commons voted 282 to 151 for maintaining the original wording of the resolution. The next day, the two Houses entered into a conference but failed to resolve the matter. William in private conversation (with Halifax, Danby, Shrewsbury, Lord Winchester and Lord Mordaunt) made it clear that they could either accept him as king or deal with the Whigs without his military presence, for then he would leave for the Republic. But he let it be known that he was happy for Mary to be queen in name and preference in the succession given to Princess Anne's children over any of William's. Anne declared that she would temporarily waive her right to the crown should Mary die before William, and Mary refused to be made queen without William as king. The Lords on 6 February now accepted the words "abdication" and "vacancy" and Lord Winchester's motion to appoint William and Mary monarchs. Generally there was a great fear that the situation might deteriorate into a civil war.
The proposal to draw up a statement of the subjects' rights and liberties and James's invasion of them was first made on 29 January in the Commons, with members arguing that the House "can not answer it to the nation or Prince of Orange till we declare what are the rights invaded" and that William "cannot take it ill if we make conditions to secure ourselves for the future" in order to "do justice to those who sent us hither". On 2 February a committee specially convened reported to the Commons 23 Heads of Grievances, which the Commons approved and added some of their own. However on 4 February the Commons decided to instruct the committee to differentiate between "such of the general heads, as are introductory of new laws, from those that are declaratory of ancient rights". On 7 February the Commons approved this revised Declaration of Right, and on 8 February instructed the committee to put into a single text the Declaration (with the heads which were "introductory of new laws" removed), the resolution of 28 January and the Lords' proposal for a revised oath of allegiance. It passed the Commons without division.
The Declaration of Right was in December 1689 enacted in an Act of Parliament, the Bill of Rights 1689. It listed twelve of James's policies by which James designed to "endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom". These were:
The Bill of Rights also vindicated and asserted the nation's "ancient rights and liberties" by declaring:
On 13 February the clerk of the House of Lords read the Declaration of Right and Halifax, in the name of all the estates of the realm, asked William and Mary to accept the throne. William replied for his wife and himself: "We thankfully accept what you have offered us". They then went in procession to the great gate at Whitehall. The Garter King at Arms proclaimed them King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, whereupon they adjourned to the Chapel Royal, with Compton preaching the sermon. They were crowned on 11 April, swearing an oath to uphold the laws made by Parliament. The Coronation Oath Act 1688 had provided a new coronation oath, whereby the monarchs were to "solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same". They were also to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed faith established by law.
Although their succession to the English throne was relatively peaceful, much blood would be shed before William's authority was accepted in Ireland and Scotland. In Scotland there had been no serious support for the rebellion; but, when James fled for France, most members of the Scottish Privy Council went to London to offer their services to William. On 7 January they asked William to take over the responsibilities of government. On 14 March a Scottish Convention convened in Edinburgh, dominated by the Presbyterians because the episcopalians continued to support James. There was nevertheless a Jacobite faction, but a letter by James received on 16 March, in which he threatened to punish all who rebelled against him, resulted in his followers leaving the Convention, which then on 4 April decided that the throne of Scotland was vacant. The Convention formulated the Claim of Right and the Articles of Grievances. On 11 May William and Mary accepted the Crown of Scotland; after their acceptance, the Claim and the Articles were read aloud, leading to an immediate debate over whether or not an endorsement of these documents was implicit in that acceptance.
In Ireland there was no equivalent of the English or Scottish Convention and William had to conquer Ireland by force. The English Convention presumed to legislate for Ireland as well, and the Declaration of Right deemed William to be King of Ireland as well as of England.
See main article: Williamite war in Ireland. James had cultivated support on the fringes of his Three Kingdoms – in Catholic Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Supporters of James, known as Jacobites, were prepared to resist what they saw as an illegal coup by force of arms. The first Jacobite rebellion, an uprising in support of James in Scotland, took place in 1689. It was led by John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee, also known as Graham of Claverhouse or Bonnie Dundee, who raised an army from Highland clans. In Ireland, Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell led local Catholics, who had been discriminated against by previous English monarchs, in the conquest of all the fortified places in the kingdom except Derry, and so held the Kingdom for James. James himself landed in Ireland with 6,000 French troops to try to regain the throne in the Williamite war in Ireland. The war raged from 1689–1691. James fled Ireland following his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne, but Jacobite resistance was not ended until after the battle of Aughrim in 1691, when over half of their army was killed or taken prisoner. The Irish Jacobites surrendered under the conditions of the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691. England stayed relatively calm throughout, although some English Jacobites fought on James's side in Ireland. Despite the Jacobite victory at the Battle of Killiecrankie, the uprising in the Scottish Highlands was quelled due to death of its leader, Dundee, and Williamite victories at Dunkeld and Cromdale. Many, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, continued to see the Stuarts as the legitimate monarchs of the Three Kingdoms, and there were further Jacobite rebellions in Scotland during the years 1715, 1719 and 1745.
Though he had carefully avoided making it public, William's main motive in organising the expedition had been the opportunity to bring England into an alliance against France. On 9 December 1688 he had already asked the States-General to send a delegation of three to negotiate the conditions. On 18 February (Julian calendar) he asked the Convention to support the Republic in its war against France; but it refused, only consenting to pay ₤600,000 for the continued presence of the Dutch army in England. On 9 March (Gregorian calendar) the States-General responded to Louis's earlier declaration of war by declaring war on France in return. On 19 April (Julian calendar) the Dutch delegation signed a naval treaty with England. It stipulated that the combined Anglo-Dutch fleet would always be commanded by an Englishman, even when of lower rank; also it specified that the two parties would contribute in the ratio of five English vessels against three Dutch vessels, meaning in practice that the Dutch navy in the future would be smaller than the English. The Navigation Acts were not repealed. On 18 May the new Parliament allowed William to declare war on France. On 9 September 1689 (Gregorian calendar), William as King of England joined the League of Augsburg against France.
Having England as an ally meant that the military situation of the Republic was strongly improved, but this very fact induced William to be uncompromising in his position towards France. This policy led to a large number of very expensive campaigns which were largely paid for with Dutch funds. In 1712 the Republic was financially exhausted; it withdrew from international politics and was forced to let its fleet deteriorate, making what was by then the United Kingdom the dominant maritime power of the world. The Dutch economy, already burdened by the high national debt and concomitant high taxation, suffered from the other European states' protectionist policies, which its weakened fleet was no longer able to resist. To make matters worse, the main Dutch trading and banking houses moved much of their activity from Amsterdam to London after 1688. Between 1688 and 1720, world trade dominance shifted from the Republic to Britain.
The events of 1688 are known as the "Glorious Revolution" but since an intensified historical interest due to the third centennial of the event, some academics have portrayed the "revolution" as a Dutch invasion of Britain. The "Glorious Revolution" fulfills the criterion for revolution, being an internal change of constitution and also the criterion for invasion, because it involved the landing of large numbers of foreign troops. The events were unusual because the establishment of a constitutional monarchy (a de facto republic, see Coronation Oath Act 1688) and English Bill of Rights meant that the apparently invading monarchs, legitimate heirs to the throne, were prepared to govern with the English Parliament. It is difficult to classify the entire proceedings of 1687–89 but it can be seen that the events occurred in three phases: conspiracy, invasion by Dutch forces and "Glorious Revolution". It has been argued that the invasion aspect had been downplayed as a result of a combination of British pride and successful Dutch propaganda, trying to depict the course of events as a largely internal English affair.
The overthrow of James was hailed at the time and ever since, as the "Glorious Revolution". Edmund Burke set the tone for over two centuries of historiographical analysis when he proclaimed that:
The Revolution was made to preserve our ancient indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancient constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty.
Many historians have endorsed Burke's view, including Macaulay (1848) and more recently John Morrill, who captured the consensus of contemporary historiography well when he declared that "the Sensible Revolution of 1688—89 was a conservative Revolution". On the contrary, Steven Pincus (2009) argues that it was momentous especially when looking at the alternative that James was trying to enact – a powerful centralised autocratic state, using French-style "state-building". England's role in Europe and the country's political economy in the 17th century refutes the view of many late-20th-century historians that nothing revolutionary occurred during the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89. Pincus says it was not a placid turn of events. In diplomacy and economics William III transformed the English state's ideology and policies. This occurred not because William III was an outsider who inflicted foreign notions on England but because foreign affairs and political economy were at the core of the English revolutionaries' agenda. The revolution of 1688–89 cannot be fathomed in isolation. It would have been inconceivable without the changes resulting from the events of the 1640s and 1650s. Indeed, the ideas accompanying the Glorious Revolution were rooted in the mid-century upheavals. Thus, the 17th century was a century of revolution in England, deserving of the same scholarly attention that 'modern' revolutions attract.
James II was building a powerful militarised state on the assumption that the world's wealth was necessarily finite and empires were created by taking land from other states. The East India Company was thus an ideal tool to create a vast new English imperial dominion by warring with the Dutch and the Mogul Empire in India. After 1689 came an alternative understanding of economics, which saw Britain as a commercial rather than an agrarian society. The proponents of this view, most famously Adam Smith in 1776, argued that wealth was created by human endeavour and was thus potentially infinite.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688 is considered by some as being one of the most important events in the long evolution of the respective powers of Parliament and the Crown in England. With the passage of the Bill of Rights, it stamped out once and for all any possibility of a Catholic monarchy, and ended moves towards absolute monarchy in the British kingdoms by circumscribing the monarch's powers. These powers were greatly restricted; he or she could no longer suspend laws, levy taxes, make royal appointments, or maintain a standing army during peacetime without Parliament's permission – to this day the Army is known as the "British Army" not the "Royal Army" as it is, in some sense, Parliament's Army and not that of the King. (This is, however, a complex issue, as the Crown remained – and remains – the source of all executive authority in the British army, with legal implications for unlawful orders etc.). Since 1689, government under a system of constitutional monarchy in England, and later the United Kingdom, has been uninterrupted. Since then, Parliament's power has steadily increased while the Crown's has steadily declined. Unlike in the English civil war of the mid-seventeenth century, the "Glorious Revolution" did not involve the masses of ordinary people in England (the majority of the bloodshed occurred in Ireland). This fact has led many historians, including Samuel Saunders Webb, to suggest that, in England at least, the events more closely resemble a coup d'état than a social revolution. This view of events does not contradict what was originally meant by "revolution": the coming round of an old system of values in a circular motion, back to its original position, as Britain's constitution was reasserted, rather than formed anew.
Prior to his arrival in England, the new king William III of England was not Anglican, but rather was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. Consequently, as a Calvinist and Presbyterian he was now in the unenviable position of being the head of the Church of England, while technically being a Nonconformist. This was, however, not his main motive for promoting religious toleration. More important in that respect was the need to keep happy his Catholic allies in the coming struggle with Louis XIV. Though he had promised legal toleration for Catholics in his Declaration of October, 1688, he was ultimately unsuccessful in this respect, due to opposition by the Tories in the new Parliament. The Revolution led to the Act of Toleration of 1689, which granted toleration to Nonconformist Protestants, but not to Catholics.
The Williamite war in Ireland can be seen as the source of later conflict, including The Troubles of recent times. The Williamite victory in Ireland is still commemorated by the Orange Order for preserving British and Protestant dominance in the country.
In North America, the Glorious Revolution precipitated the 1689 Boston revolt in which a well-organized "mob" of provincial militia and citizens successfully deposed the hated governor Edmund Andros, which has been seen as a precedent for the American War of Independence a century later. In New York, Leisler's Rebellion caused the colonial administrator, Francis Nicholson, to flee to England. A third event, Maryland's Protestant Rebellion was directed against the proprietary government, seen as Catholic-dominated.
Lord Macaulay's account of the Revolution in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second exemplifies its semi-mystical significance to later generations.