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"English Revolution" has been used to describe two different events in English history. The first to be so called—by Whig historians—was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, whereby James II was replaced by William III and Mary II as monarch and a constitutional monarchy was established.
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English politicians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange, who was James's nephew and son-in-law. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.
James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.
William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".
In the twentieth century, however, Marxist historians introduced the use of the term "English Revolution" to describe the period of the English Civil Wars and Commonwealth period (1640–1660),in which Parliament challenged King Charles I's authority, engaged in civil conflict against his forces, and executed him in 1649. This was followed by a ten-year period of bourgeois republican government, the "Commonwealth", before monarchy was restored in the shape of Charles' son, Charles II, in 1660.
Marxism is a theory and method of working-class self-emancipation. As a theory, it relies on a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
The Commonwealth was the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were ruled as a republic following the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The republic's existence was declared through "An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth", adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. Power in the early Commonwealth was vested primarily in the Parliament and a Council of State. During the period, fighting continued, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, between the parliamentary forces and those opposed to them, as part of what is now referred to as the Third English Civil War.
In The Glorious Revolution of 1688, James II was replaced by William III and Mary II as monarch and a constitutional monarchy was established and was described by Whig historians as the English Revolution.This interpretation suggests that the "English Revolution” it was later then changed by Parliament to achieve a balanced constitutional monarchy in Britain, and laws were made that pointed towards freedom.
The Marxist view of the English Revolution suggests that the events of 1640 to 1660 in Britain was a bourgeois revolution in which the final section of English feudalism (the state) was destroyed by a bourgeois class (and its supporters) and replaced with a state (and society) which reflected the wider establishment of agrarian (and later industrial) capitalism. Such an analysis sees the English Revolution as pivotal in the transition from feudalism to capitalism and from a feudal state to a capitalist state in Britain.
Bourgeois revolution is a term used in Marxist theory to refer to a social revolution that aims to destroy a feudal system or its vestiges, establish the rule of the bourgeoisie, and create a bourgeois state. In colonised or subjugated countries, bourgeois revolutions often take the form of a war of national independence. The English, French, and American revolutions are considered the archetypal bourgeois revolutions, in that they attempted to clear away the remnants of the medieval feudal system, so as to pave the way for the rise of capitalism. The term is usually used in contrast to "proletarian revolution", and is also sometimes called a "bourgeois-democratic revolution".
Agrarianism is a social philosophy or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society and the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values. It stresses the superiority of a simpler rural life as opposed to the complexity of city life.
Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.
According to Marxist historian Christopher Hill:
The Civil War was a class war, in which the despotism of Charles I was defended by the reactionary forces of the established Church and conservative landlords, and on the other side stood the trading and industrial classes in town and countryside ... the yeomen and progressive gentry, and ... wider masses of the population whenever they were able by free discussion to understand what the struggle was really about.
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot, as in an autocracy, but societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.
Later developments of the Marxist view moved on from the theory of bourgeois revolution to suggest that the English Revolution anticipated the French Revolution and later revolutions in the field of popular administrative and economic gains. Along with the expansion of parliamentary power the revolution broke down many of the old power relations in both rural and urban English society. The guild democracy movement of the period won its greatest successes among London's transport workers, most notably the Thames Watermen, who democratized their company in 1641-43. And with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, rural communities began to seize timber and other resources on the estates of royalists, Catholics, the royal family and the church hierarchy. Some communities improved their conditions of tenure on such estates.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
The old status quo began a retrenchment after the end of the main civil war in 1646, and more especially after the restoration of monarchy in 1660. But some gains were long-term. The democratic element introduced in the watermen's company in 1642, for example, survived, with vicissitudes, until 1827.
The Marxist view also developed a concept of a “Revolution within the Revolution” (pursued by Hill, Brian Manning and others) which placed a greater deal of emphasis on the radical movements of the period (such as the agitator Levellers, mutineers in the New Model Army and the communistic Diggers) who attempted to go further than Parliament in the aftermath of the Civil War.
There were, we may oversimplify, two revolutions in mid-seventeenth century England. The one which succeeded established the sacred rights of property (abolition of feudal tenures, no arbitrary taxation), gave political power to the propertied (sovereignty of Parliament and common law, abolition of prerogative courts), and removed all impediments to the triumph of the ideology of the men of property – the protestant ethic. There was, however, another revolution which never happened, though from time to time it threatened. This might have established communal property, a far wider democracy in political and legal institutions, might have disestablished the state church and rejected the Protestant ethic.
Brian Manning has claimed that:
The old ruling class came back with new ideas and new outlooks which were attuned to economic growth and expansion and facilitated in the long run the development of a fully capitalist economy. It would all have been very different if Charles I had not been obliged to summon that Parliament to meet at Westminster on November 3rd, 1640.
The term "English Revolution" is also used by non-Marxists in the Victorian period to refer to 1642, as (for example) critic and writer Matthew Arnold in "the Function of Criticism at the present time". ("This is what distinguishes it [the French Revolution] from the English Revolution of Charles the First's time.")
The notion that the events of 1640 to 1660 constitute an "English Revolution" has been criticised by historians such as Austin Woolrych, who has pointed out that
painstaking research in county after county, in local record offices and family archives, has revealed that the changes in the ownership of real estate, and hence in the composition of the governing class, were nothing like as great as used to be thought.
Woolrych argues that the notion that the period constitutes an "English Revolution" not only ignores the lack of significant social change contained within the period, but also ignores the long-term trends of the early modern period which extend beyond this narrow time-frame.
In the seventeenth century England carried out two revolutions. The first, which brought forth great social upheavals and wars, brought amongst other things the execution of King Charles I, while the second ended happily with the accession of a new dynasty. [...] The reason for this difference in estimates was explained by the French historian, Augustin Thierry. In the first English revolution, in the “Great Rebellion,” the active force was the people; while in the second it was almost “silent.” [...] But the great event in modern “bourgeois” history is, none the less, not the “Glorious Revolution,” but the “Great Rebellion.”
The Levellers were a political movement during the English Civil War (1642–1651). They were committed to popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance. The hallmark of Leveller thought was its populism, as shown by its emphasis on equal natural rights, and their practice of reaching the public through pamphlets, petitions and vocal appeals to the crowd. Their ideas were presented in their manifesto "Agreement of the People". In contrast to the Diggers, the Levellers opposed common ownership, except in cases of mutual agreement of the property owners. The Levellers came to prominence at the end of the First English Civil War (1642–1646) and were most influential before the start of the Second Civil War (1648–1649). Leveller views and support were found in the populace of the City of London and in some regiments in the New Model Army.
Samuel Rawson Gardiner was an English historian, who specialized in 17th-century English history. He is the foremost historian of the Puritan revolution and the English Civil War as explained by historian John Morrill who says:
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it merged with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Cavalier was first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier Royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration. It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves. Although it referred originally to political and social attitudes and behaviour, of which clothing was a very small part, it has subsequently become strongly identified with the fashionable clothing of the court at the time. Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I's cavalry, is often considered to be an archetypal Cavalier.
Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell, 5th Earl Russell was a British historian and politician. His parents were the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell and his third wife Patricia Russell. He was also a great-grandson of the 19th century British Whig Prime Minister Lord John Russell. He succeeded to the earldom on the death of his half-brother, John Conrad Russell, on 16 December 1987. Both sons were named after their father's great friend Joseph Conrad, who was also the 4th Earl's godfather.
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, formed an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland between 1639 and 1651. The English Civil War proper has become the best-known of these conflicts; it included the abolition of the monarchy and the execution of the kingdom's monarch, Charles I, by the English Parliament in 1649.
Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include numerous wars, especially with France, along with the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the Restoration of Charles II, the Glorious Revolution, the Treaty of Union, the Scottish Enlightenment and the formation and collapse of the First British Empire.
The Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing also known as the Licensing Order of 1643 instituted pre-publication censorship upon Parliamentary England. Milton's Areopagitica was written specifically against this Act.
The Act of Settlement 1662 was passed by the Irish Parliament in Dublin. It was a partial reversal of the Cromwellian Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652, which punished Irish Catholics and Royalists for fighting against the English Parliament in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms by the wholesale confiscation of their lands and property. The Act describes itself An act for the better execution of His Majesty's gracious declaration for the Settlement of his Kingdom of Ireland, and the satisfaction of the several interests of adventurers, soldiers, and other his subjects there.
The Interregnum was the period between the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on 29 May 1660 which marked the start of the Restoration. During the Interregnum, England was under various forms of republican government.
Brian Manning was a leading British Marxist historian, particularly of the English Civil War of the 17th century. A student of Christopher Hill, his best known work was The English People and the English Revolution.
The General Crisis is the term used by some historians to describe the period of widespread conflict and instability that occurred from the early 17th century to the early 18th century in Europe and in more recent historiography in the world at large. The concept is much debated by historians; there is no consensus.
Henry Parker (1604–1652) was an English barrister and political writer in the Parliamentarian cause.
Gerald Edward Aylmer, was an English historian of 17th century England.
The Stuart period of British history lasted from 1603 to 1714 during the dynasty of the House of Stuart. The period ended with the death of Queen Anne and the accession of King George I from the German House of Hanover.
Cam ye o'er frae France? is a Scots mocking folk song from the time of the Jacobite Revolution in the 18th century.
Thomas Lascelles, also spelt Lassells, was an English radical politician and businessman of the second half of the 17th century. He is now best known for the construction of Mount Grace Manor House, one of the few extant examples of architecture from the 1649 to 1660 Commonwealth or Protectorate.
Timothy J. G. Harris is an historian of Later Stuart Britain.
The Glorious Revolution in Scotland was part of a series of events between 1688-1689 in England and Scotland known as the Glorious Revolution. It covers the deposition of James VII of Scotland and II of England, his replacement by his daughter Mary and her husband William and the political settlement thereafter. Scotland and England were linked but separate countries, each with its own Parliament and decisions in one did not bind the other.