What caused the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the British  Bill of Rights of 1689?  what are their effects?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 occurred when James II succeeded his brother, Charles II as King of England. James was a devout Catholic who had no intention of compromising on issues of religion. He dismissed a number of government officers who were not Catholic and appointed Catholics in their place in direct conflict with the Test Act of 1673 which said that anyone who did not accept the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Church of England could not hold public office. James also issued a Declaration of Indulgence, which granted religious freedom to everyone. His actions were perhaps noble, but offended Anglicans. When seven bishops begged to not be forced to read the Declaration they were imprisoned, although they were later acquitted. James' wife soon became pregnant and James rather unwisely predicted the child would be a boy, and the next  Catholic King of England. The child was a male, but the only witnesses were Catholic, which led to rumors of a surrogate. Even if this were true, the child was the lawful heir, and Catholic to boot.

A group of Tories and Whigs offered the throne to Mary, James' daughter by his first wife, and her husband William, Prince of Orange. They landed with an army, and James fled. Parliament then declared the throne vacant, and offered it to William and Mary.

As a condition of their accepting the throne, William and Mary were required to give assent to the Bill of Rights of 1689 which provided:

  • Parliament would be the source of all laws and could not be suspended by the monarch.
  • Parliament must be called into session every three years.
  • The monarch would not interfere in elections or debates in Parliament.
  • Judges would hold office during "good behavior."
  • Protestants could keep and bear arms.
  • Most importantly, the English monarch must be Protestant.

The effect was to create a Constitutional  Monarchy in which the power of the monarch is severely limited and ultimate power rests with Parliament through the people.