The Glorious Revolution had many names at the time of its occurrence.
James II and his wife, Maria di Modena of Italy, did not flee England for France, because they believed that revolution was inevitable. They fled because James II knew what had happened to his father — to say nothing of himself and his older brother and sister, each time the British Parliament took up arms against their king.
Things could only end badly for the king.
In a way, I suppose this was to the Parliament’s credit. Then too, parliaments can also be dictatorial in their exercise of power. Yes, the American Declaration of Independence blamed King George III for its draconian policies against the American colonies. Then too, the king’s power was derived from the British Parliament. Alas, there are many forms of state, and each has the power to be miserable, if not kept in check!
So, William III of Orange amassed a large army of many thousands of troops for the occasion, and he and his wife, Mary, were crowned King and Queen after several months of negotiation and very little bloodshed. In fact, William’s troops never took up arms — hence, the irony of the glory. No, things were far more complicated than what a bit of semantic irony might suggest. We will return to this complication in a moment.
More important for now is what Louis XIV (1638-1715) was plotting on the European continent while the British were haggling over how to control their new foreign king and native queen and solidify their Anglican constitutional monarchy.
Surely you must recall the Grand Alliance that William III of Orange had arranged between Friedrich Wilhelm (1620-1688), Elector of Brandenburg, Leopold I (1640-1795) of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor, and Carlos II (1661-1700), King of Spain in 1672. Although the peace that resulted with the defeat of the English navy and the expulsion of French forces from Dutch territory secured France’s recognition of the Dutch Republic, it also enhanced the French position in Central Europe. The agreement did not provide, however, for a lasting peace on the continent, as France’s alliance with the German state of Cologne was compromised by this latter’s allegiance to Leopold I in their mutual struggle against the ever encroaching Ottoman Turks.
In an effort to secure the allegiance of Cologne, Louis XIV initiated several aggressive moves that led to Austria’s formation of the League of Augsburg in 1686 and an invitation to William III, King of England and Dutch Stadholder to form a new Grand Alliance in 1689. This alliance would pit England, the Dutch Republic, and the entire Holy Roman Empire against Louis XIV of France!
You may have noticed by now that war is a costly enterprise with great financial consequences. The Nine Years’ War (1688-1697) that followed was no exception.
In liberty, or not at all,
Roddy A. Stegemann