The “Glorious Revolution”

Start Free Trial

What is the significance of the "Glorious Revolution in Britain (1688-1689)" in history?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Glorious Revolution was a very significant event in British history. As a result of the Glorious Revolution, the rule of James II ended, and the rule of William and Mary began. It also led the creation of the English Bill of Rights in 1688. Parliament drew up the Bill of Rights and gave it to William and Mary. Only after they agreed to support the document did Parliament recognize them as the king and queen of England.

The English Bill of Rights significantly limited the power of the monarchy and increased the power of Parliament. The monarch could no longer suspend laws or levy taxes without the approval of Parliament. It also made England more democratic, and the English Bill of Rights established freedoms such as the freedom to have elections, the freedom to be able to debate in Parliament, and the freedom from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments. The English Bill of Rights became a very important document in England and is an important part of the English system of government.

The English Bill of Rights impacted the colonies and eventually the United States. The freedoms guaranteed in the document were found in the colonial governments. When the United States became an independent country, these freedoms became part of the American democracy and the Constitution of the United States.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Glorious Revolution had far-reaching impacts on England and its far-flung colonies. English parliamentarians were uncomfortable with King James’s move to entrench Catholicism and his efforts towards the expansion of religious space. Birth of his son Stuart posed further religious challenges by making a Catholic establishment more likely. The members of parliament reached out to the stadtholder William to intervene before the impending crisis. William shared similar fears with the parliamentarians and resolved to invade England to overthrow James’s administration. 

William’s campaign against the throne of England was successful. However, violent conflicts continued in Ireland and Scotland. Ripple effects of the Revolution were felt as far as the Americas, where Maryland’s provincial government collapsed. The Revolution managed to ensure that Catholicism could not be entrenched in England and resulted in the limiting of powers exercised by the monarch. Some of the most positive impacts of the Revolution include the Bill of Rights and the strengthening of democratic representation through parliament.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Glorious Revolution is extremely significant in world history because it helped to make England more democratic.  When England became more democratic, it ended up helping to cause the idea of democracy to spread.  This helped to create the world we now live in where many parts of the world have democracies and many others aspire to it.

The Glorious Revolution’s immediate impact was to strengthen Parliament and weaken the British monarchy.  In other words, it helped to entrench the idea that the sovereign power in England should be held by an elected parliament.  It is true that Parliament was not perfectly democratic after the Glorious Revolution and it is true that the monarch still held some power.  Even so, this revolution created a system where an elected body held the bulk of the power.

In time, this became important even outside of England.  The United States was created by people who were inspired in part by the Glorious Revolution.  The colonists had lived for decades with the idea of a sovereign elected body and they wanted one of their own.  This helped influence them to create a republic when they became independent.  The movement toward greater democracy spread from there across Europe and later to other parts of the world as well. 

The Glorious Revolution, then, played a major part in helping to bring greater levels of democracy to the world. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team