A Glorious Revolution

Steven Pincus said that the glorious revolution of 1688 “radically altered the English state, and the English economy, and the English church. The English had truly brought about the first modern revolution.” (pg.33) Pincus sites the Declaration of Rights, the creation of the Bank of England, and the religious toleration of a new protestant King and Queen and uses very convincing primary material as evidence to uphold his point. The glorious revolution of 1688 was the fist modern revolution that created modern England.

            The Declaration of Rights finally fixed most of the problems that caused the English Civil War at the beginning of the 17th century.  The Declaration of Rights effectively put some limits on the Monarchs power, and gave more power to the subjects. This led Edmund Burke to say that “the Declaration of Right… is the cornerstone of our condition, as reinforced, explained, improved, and in its fundamental principles forever settled.” (pg. 53) The declaration states that “it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petition, are illegal.” (pg.70) This gave more power to and protected the rights of the ordinary citizen. The Declaration also made sure nothing like Cromwell and his New Model Army would happen again by saying “that the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law.” (pg. 70) And finally Parliament got the final word in saying, “Parliament ought to be held frequently” (pg.70) They did not want another eleven years tyranny. The Declaration of Rights took power away from the King and Queen and put it into the hands of the people and parliament. No longer was the personality of the king all important. This was one of the first systems of government in place that would guide the monarchy into a more ceremonious role. “The Devine right of kings-doctrines which, had they been acted upon in this country would have left us at this time wretched slaves.” (pg. 52) The monarchy was still appointed by God, but they no longer answered solely to God. They also had to check in with parliament frequently.  

England’s economy was rapidly expanding during this period as the world was coming ever closer together due to trade with the new world and the entablement of colonies across the globe. One person anonymously wrote an article entitled The Growing Social and Political Importance of Foreign Trade and in this essay, it states that “trade and negotiation has infected the whole kingdom, and no man disdain to marry or mix within it. By this means the very genius of the people is altered, and it will in the end be the interest of the crown to proportion its maxims of power suitable to this new nature come among us.” (pg. 56) Trade and production in its colonies was how England was going to make its money form this point on.

Trade was defiantly an important part of the English economy, but an important institution that would revolutionize the English economy was also reacted during this time, the Royal Bank of England. “This Royal bank of credit will be able to issue out bills of credit to a vast extent, that merchants will accept of, rather than money.” (pg. 115) This allowed the nation of England to buy things on credit and effectively go into debt. This made it so money was not directly coming out of Kings pocket, but the King still had access to large amounts of money. If England “should be put hard upon by any foreign power, the king many have from these enough to supply his wants, the parliament consenting and approving; and many tend to the overthrowing of our enemies by sea and land.” (pg.119) England was able to outspend foreign powers and win wars even when they did not have as many men.

            Before the Glorious Revolution England had been a protestant nation with a Catholic King. With William and Mary taking the throne the rulers of the protestant church of England were now also protestant again. This led Richard Price to write a sermon in celebration of the revolution and what he hoped would the new found religious toleration the new Kind and Queen would bring. Price writes, “it has been usual for the friends of freedom, and more especially Protestant Dissenters to celebrate with expression of joy and exultation.” (pg.51) Because he hoped that “the right to liberty of conscience in religious matters” (pg. 52) that was promised under Charles II would be returned to the people. And this is what happened. Price recounted how “our meeting houses we opened, worship was taken under the protection of the law, and the principles of toleration gained a triumph.” (pg.51) The Clarendon Code was appealed, and  dissenters were now allowed to worship how they saw fit. “That constitution of government which is now our boast. We have particular reason as Protestant Dissenters, to rejoice on this occasion.” (Pg. 51)

England had pulled off a modern political revolution in a very English fashion. The Glorious Revolution was done with great pomp, circumstance, and paperwork, but no one lost their heads. This revolution would forever the way England operated at a country. Many people in England believed that they were now “example to other kingdoms, and became the instructors of the world.” (pg.51) Due to their Glorious Revolution, bank of England, and religious toleration.

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