Mark Collins – 1688: The Last Successful Invasion of England…

…plus the Glorious Revolution and legislating Parliamentary control–one brief bit from a much longer piece on constitutional matters at the London Review of Books:

The Glorious Revolution and the Continuity of Law by Richard Kay
[more here] Catholic University of America, 277 pp, £45.00, December 2014…

The Dutch ambassador in London had been in contact with leading English politicians, a group of whom, on the day the bishops were acquitted, invited William of Orange, the king’s Protestant son-in-law, to invade. James panicked and tried to reverse some of his reforms; but William, alarmed at the possibility that Louis XIV of France would soon have a militant ally in Britain, crossed to Torbay in November 1688 with a force of 4000 horse and 11,000 foot and marched on London – the last successful invasion of England. James, deserted by his generals at Salisbury, fled the country.

Pretty much as had happened in 1660 before the reinstatement of Charles II, a parliament convened without a royal summons – though William purported to convene it – and asserted its own authority to govern. The difference was that, while the 1660 Convention took itself to be simply restoring the legitimate succession, the 1689 Convention was tacking between hereditary entitlement and powerful political and religious imperatives. Could a legally non-existent parliament clothe itself with the authority to break the genetic line of succession and enthrone a monarch of its own choosing? The short answer is that, lawfully or not, that is what happened. The Convention declared itself a parliament and resolved ‘That King James the Second … by breaking the original contract between king and people, and … having withdrawn himself out of this kingdom, hath abdicated the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant.’ It offered the vacant throne to William and Mary…

From the 1689 Bill of Rights:

That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal…

From an earlier post:

…Britons had not seen their land invaded and occupied; indeed, they were proud that the boots of no foreign army had trodden British soil for a thousand years [well, except for the Dutch: “The 1688 invasion of Britain that’s been erased from history”]…

Tides of change: William of Orange launched a colossal armada to seize the throne from Catholic King James II

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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