History Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

England underwent a period of instability and crises both at home and in the colonies during the 1700's. What might have happened in England and her North American colonies had the glorious revolution not taken place? Explain.

Expert Answers info

pnrjulius eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write550 answers

starTop subjects are History, Science, and Business

The Glorious Revolution was a vital turning point in the history of the UK, which greatly expanded the power of Parliament and reduced the power of the monarchy, and set the UK on the course toward becoming what it is today, which is technically a constitutional monarchy but de facto a representative democracy. Today the Queen has some real power, but Parliament is far more important; this might not have been the case were it not for the Glorious Revolution.

Indeed, the effects of the revolution were even broader than that, as they set a global precedent for the expansion of power to broader classes of people. This was a trend that had been going on for centuries (and continues today), but the Glorious Revolution was a turning point, where relatively suddenly elected officials took on more control of a global superpower than the hereditary monarch.

Without that turning point, the American Revolution might never have gained steam, for fear that it couldn't possibly succeed; or, on the other hand, it might have occurred even earlier, as it would be even easier to gather outrage against unrepresentative government when that government is led by a king instead of by a parliament. Perhaps even Canada would have launched a revolution under those circumstances. I can therefore imagine either the United States and Canada remaining under the British crown, or neither of them, depending on whether the stronger monarchy was able to hold control or triggered an even fiercer backlash toward democracy. This would also depend in part on how well the British monarchy held itself together against the various political and economic forces that led to the Glorious Revolution in the first place.

Still, the winds of change were blowing, and even if there hadn't been the specific incidents (particularly involving Dutch involvement) that led to the Glorious Revolution, I think it is quite likely that Britain's monarchy would have weakened and transitioned toward democracy at some point anyway. This also happened in many other countries in Europe, such as Norway and Sweden, and while each transition had its own unique historical circumstances, they all fit a larger pattern of broadening political power to the people. It could be that without the Glorious Revolution, some other revolution would have simply come along later to take its place.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial