The Locke Institute series
Edited by Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio
Chapter 11: The Glorious Revolution of 1688: Successful Constitutional and Institutional Adjustment in a Period of Rapid Change
Charles K. Rowley and Matthew Dobra 1. INTRODUCTION The English Glorious Revolution of 1688 was brief in duration and essentially bloodless in nature. On November 1, 1688, William, Prince of Orange, on the eve of his embarkation from Holland, gave his written reasons for invading England. The next day, James II of England imposed a ban on all public pronouncements made by the prince. On November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day) William’s fleet, composed of 54 ships and 2040 guns driven by a Protestant wind, blowing first from the east and then from the south, landed at Torbay in Devon without any resistance by the poorly led and perhaps disaffected English fleet composed of 52 ships of the line, 17 fireships and 1876 guns (Ogg, 1955, p. 214). Despite his signal failure to rouse English support in the western counties, William secured his military position in Exeter with a cosmopolitan army of between 12 000 and 14 000 men, less than half the size of the regular forces in the pay of James II. James marched to confront the invader, reaching Salisbury on November 19 at the head of a sullen though not necessarily malcontented army. Warned of treachery among the high command, James hesitated to make arrests but rather, on November 24, ordered a retreat to London. His leading generals, Churchill (later the Duke of Marlborough), Grafton and Kirke, breached their oaths of office and deserted in favor of William leaving a demoralized army behind them. Simultanously, James’s favorite daughter...
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