In 1690, on this day at Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland, the future of Catholic supremacy in England was secured with victory at the Battle of the Boyne when Protestant King William was defeated by the rightful monarch, James Stuart (pictured) who the Williamites had unlawfully deposed some two years before.
Glorious Revolution of 1690The high point in the so-called "Glorious Revolution", this violent series of event is seen in retrospect as the springboard for Britain's eventual global dominance.
In late 1685 the King had crushed the rebellion of his nephew, the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, executing hundreds of traitors of the English West Country in the Bloody Assizes. Determined to improve the social and political status of his Catholic co-religionists, James rewrote English law. He insisted on his right to defy parliamentary statute and awarded Roman Catholics military and naval commissions. In 1687 he used his newly formed and illegal Ecclesiastical Commission to force England's Protestant universities to accept Roman Catholic fellows. When the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford resisted their king's demands, he had the dons stripped of their fellowships and their institution turned into a Catholic seminary.
After the King had failed to persuade the House of Commons or the House of Lords to repeal England's laws against Roman Catholicism, he reduced the power of Parliament. He first asserted his right to nullify the Test Acts and Penal Laws. These parliamentary statutes -- requiring, in the case of the Test Acts, that all political or military office-holders take the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England and, in the case of the Penal Laws, punishing those who officiated at or attended non-Church of England services--had successfully insulated the English from continental Catholic practices. Then James determined to have his royal fiat ratified by a Parliament packed with men whom he knew would do his bidding. In June 1688, seven bishops of the Church of England defied James by refusing to have his Declaration of Indulgence, emasculating the Penal Laws and Test Acts, read from England's pulpits on the grounds of its illegality. James had the seven men dragged into court for a show trial. That even a carefully picked English jury acquitted the bishops tested the limits to which the English were willing to go in support of their King.
Soon after the trial, the English invited the Dutchman William III, Prince of Orange, to England to restore their religious and political liberty.William rules for two short years until his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne.