The struggle between the Stuarts and Hanoverians for the English throne was not simply about dynastic rivalry.

The Restoration

However, after a ten year experiment with republicanism, the English begged Charles II to return, and in 1660 monarchy was restored.

The Exclusion Crisis

A triple fear of popery, French influence and monarchical absolutism began to dominate English politics.

James II's Rule

Profiting on the wave of sympathy for the monarchy generated by the Exclusion Crisis, at first James was very popular and was careful to pursue moderate policies of reform.

The Glorious Revolution

Yet James was getting old. He had no sons and both his daughters were staunch Protestants.

The Glorious Revolution

Yet James was getting old. He had no sons and both his daughters were staunch Protestants. The opponents of the King, remembering the civil wars, counselled passive resistance and prayed for a speedy end to James's reign. The situation changed utterly in June 1688 when his wife gave birth to a son.

Despite accusations that the baby had been smuggled into the Queen's chamber from outside in a warming pan, illegitimacy could not be proved and suddenly England was facing a dynasty of Catholic monarchs. Tory and Whig leaders united in an appeal to James's daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, to come to England and remonstrate with James. Their demands included immediate war with France, a free Parliament, and a commission to investigate the legitimacy of the new prince.

At this point, they were not favouring open rebellion against James, but they were desperate to find some other remedy. William, hard-pressed by the French in Holland, seized his chance and landed at Torbay on 5th November, an auspicious day for anti-Catholics. If James had chosen to fight, many might still have rallied to his cause; he was, after all, still the legitimate monarch. But instead he seems to have had a total mental breakdown. His commanders began to desert to William, and James ceased to provide coherent leadership. Within six weeks he had fled to France, and William was in London. Faced with an empty throne and open threats of invasion by Louis XIV, the political nation had little choice but to offer William the throne that he was demanding. Whigs greeted him enthusiastically; Tories rather weakly resolved their consciences by deciding that James had 'abdicated'. Yet the story was far from over; there were many in England, Scotland and Ireland who remained loyal to the old King, and who were willing enough to demonstrate that loyalty in arms.