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The Cause Behind the Glorious Revolution: The Final Straw that Overthrew James II

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William of Orange and English opposition leaders dethroned James II in 1689 as a result of James having a son whom they assumed he would raise a Catholic, thereby ensuring continual Catholic rule in England after James’ death.  The prospect of James becoming king had enabled the rise of an exclusionist faction in Parliament that had sought to pass a law keeping James from succeeding his brother, King Charles II. Charles and his supporters, the Tories had successfully opposed this law and upon Charles’ death, James became king. He quickly confirmed the fears of many anti-Catholics by replacing Protestants in positions of power with Catholics and allowing greater freedoms for Catholics. Most Protestant MPs did not support James’ overthrow because they were confident his Protestant daughter Mary would succeed him upon his death. When Charles had a son in 1688, the prospect of the throne passing to another Catholic for successive generations pushed moderate MPs in favor of revolution. Mar…

The Motives and Men behind the Restoration of Charles II in 1660

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“I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God. And all this was done without one drop of bloodshed, and by that very army which rebelled against him: but it was the Lord’s doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history . . . nor so joyful a day and so bright as ever seen in this nation.” – John Evelyn, 29 May 1660[1] The above quote describes Charles II’s triumphal entry into London on his thirtieth birthday after Parliament had voted to restore him to the throne. The restoration of Charles after the Interregnum came partially because the masses in England in 1660 were not ready for a republic, but mostly because of the oppressive nature of the Puritanical, military-dominated government. There were many who joined Charles II who had fought against his father, but had been horrified at the execution and most importantly at the Puritan rule that ensued after the regicide. The Army had ruled for eleven years and had enforced a tight system of strict, religious d…

The Real Victors of the Second English Civil War: How the New Model Army Devoured its Maker

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The English Revolution from 1647-49 was a victory for the propertied leaders of the New Model Army more than anyone else. The First Civil War had ended mostly in a stalemate between King Charles II and Parliament, however, the second English Civil War ended in 1649 with Charles losing his head. The New Model Army that Parliament created in 1645 to provide a more organized, professional fighting force rather than relying on local militias ended up dictating the terms of the solution to Charles II and ruled at least behind the scenes during the Interregnum. This new army was unique in that its mostly came from members from the lower ranks of society rather than the gentry that had traditionally run professional armies. The infiltration of revolutionaries looking to overturn society provided challenges to men like Oliver Cromwell who sought to overturn monarchy while maintaining property rights. In the end, though, Cromwell and the gentry supporting the Roundheads turned the revolution i…