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Updated Notes 2015 James And Party Politics Notes

History Notes > British History IV (1500-1700) Notes

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Why did political stability prove so elusive under the later Stuarts?


Why did James II alienate his natural base of supporters?


What difference did the emergence of political parties make?


How was the Tory party able to survive the destruction of the principle of indefeasible hereditary succession?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Reign of James IISir Edward Seymour, an Anglican stalwart, worried that the new King James would act in a manner that threatened to undermine Tory-Anglican interests. o He argued that if government were able to pack parliament, it could also undermine the legal safeguards that had made the Tory-Anglican interest conclude that the succession was not dangerous. 'The People of England', he declared, 'were strong in their aversion to the Catholic religion and were attached to their laws', and while it was true that 'these laws could not be altered except by Parliament...alterations could easily be made when there was a Parliament dependent on those who had that end in view.'Monmouth seemed a natural alternative to his Catholic uncle. Both Monmouth and Argyll planned coordinated uprisings to remove the 'murderous' papist from the throne, but were fairly quickly put down. o Ultimately, the rebels failed to garner sufficient support. No attempt made to appeal to moderate opinion or those who had become sceptical about the accession of a Catholic monarch. Rebellions affirmed the loyalty of those who had rallied to the Crown because they feared the subversive threat posed by the Presbyterians.In the Declaration of the rebel forces there lay an accusation that the Duke of York had poisoned Charles II to secure the throne, and that Monmouth would therefore endeavour 'to have justice executed upon him.' o Such a manifesto served to justify the anti-papal rhetoric of the ToryAnglican interest, and provided a useful propaganda boost. For the Tories, this affirmed that those who opposed James's claim to the throne were nonconformist, republican king-killers.

James therefore in a strong position.Nevertheless, it was rapidly growing apparent that James was not going to remain faithful to his promise to preserve the government in Church and state as by law established. o Responded to Monmouth's challenge by increasing the size of his standing army, from some 8,500 to nearly 20,000 by December 1685. o Also gave a number of commissions to Roman Catholics, in violation of the Test Act (1673). o What was always apparent in any resistance to, or criticism of James's actions, was the need to adhere to the law. This it was insisted that 'the Test was now the best fense they had for their religion', and that 'if the King,

might by his authority, supersede such a was vain to think of law any more. The government would become arbitrary and absolute.'On Nov. 20th 1685 he dissolved parliament, never calling one again. He then dismissed those who displeased him, including Protestant army officers and Bishop Compton of London.Desired to secure for all time a religious and civil equality for co-religionists. o This meant not only removing from them all the penalties and disabilities under the Penal Laws (fines for non-attendance at Anglican worship) and Test Acts (barring them from all offices and paid employments under the Crown), but also allowing the Catholic Church to be set up alongside the Anglican Church. o James believed that once the ban on Catholic evangelism was lifted, the return of hundred of thousands to the Faith was certain. The granting of equal status was seen as a humane and moderate programme.In the conditions of late-seventeenth century England, his patent pro-Catholic leanings constituted gross political folly. A time when Louis XIV had recently revoked the toleration granted to French Protestants, and England was receiving thousands of refugees fleeing brutal persecution. o James used his prerogative power to dispense individuals of legal penalties. This was meant for occasional use, but James abused his power almost farcically - an illegal suspension of the law. o He appointed numerous Catholics to positions of high office, dispensed Protestant JPs in favour of Catholics and generally disregarded the feelings of the wider political nation. o Believed he could counterbalance these actions by currying favour with Protestant Dissenters. Suspended penal laws against Dissenters and Catholics.Failure of James's pro-Catholic policies was inevitable his downfall in 1688 was not. o Monarchy unprecedentedly strong. Governments - both locally and nationally
- had been purged. Extensive quo warranto campaign had undermined the legality of municipal charter. From June 1683, when London's defence of its charter failed, the king's approval was required for the appointment of major office-holders. o Not only legally bolstered. County landowning gentry who had significant influence in the localities became the agents of royal policy in the towns and villages. o Financially solvent. Symptomatic of developing administration. o In the last years of his reign, Charles had harnessed the power of the Church of England. Exploited the divisions amongst Protestants and left his brother with a strong, authoritarian legacy.James's own aims were limited: wanted to establish toleration and participation in public life for Catholics. But whilst not necessarily immoderate, such policies were impracticable and foolish. Totally misunderstood the strength of anti-Catholic sentiment. Neither his Anglican support base nor the dissenters he later tried to ally with would accept even limited toleration for Catholics.

oreiterated throughout his reign that he had always believed that conscience 'ought not to be constrained', and that the people 'should not be forced in matters of mere religion.' o Halifax - dissenters were 'to be hugged now, only that you may be the better squeezed at another time.' o 'This alliance between liberty and infallibility is bringing together the two most contrary things that are in the world. The Church of Rome doth not only dislike the allowing liberty, but by its principles it cannot do it.'

James had fundamentally misunderstood the contemporary conception of tolerance, and had paid dearly for it. Though he 'anticipated modern Liberalism in proclaiming the inalienable rights of conscience and in announcing the abandonment of all penal laws' (262) he could not understand the character and prejudices of the English people
- and in particular the Tory party. o Anglicans and dissenters came together on the common ground of hostility to the king's use of the dispensing power. (Constitutional) Archbishop Sancroft argued that he refused to publish the second Declaration of Indulgence in 1688 not 'from any want of due tenderness to Dissenters', but 'because that Declaration is founded upon such a dispensing power as hath often been declared illegal in Parliament.' o Though the famous letter of June 30 1688 pledged support for William, there was still no mention of James's deposition or exclusion. The earl of Nottingham represented a large body of opinion when he said that the correspondence itself was 'high treason, in violation of the laws...' Many were too fearful of the prospect of another civil war to join. o 'There would have been no "Glorious Revolution" without the intervention of William of Orange.'

In many respects, that so few of the Crown's powers were redefined meant that the old conflicts between Court and Country, the struggles between advocates of absolutism and those in favour of a limited sovereign, had reached no resolution. o IMPORTANT - That no-one felt a victory had been secured meant that internal strife would continue to blight the realm. No triumph of Whig principles - James II fell only because of the opposition he met from the Tory-Anglican interest.Even after the Revolution, the old sources of strife continued to rear their head, reminding us that the causes of late Stuart instability had deep roots in the failure to come to an adequate religious settlement. In the electoral campaigns of 1690, the Whigs were once again condemning the Tories for proving that 'their Church is that which was Established by Magna Carta before the Reformation, and their Monarchy, the French Tyranny, or King James his suppos'd Divine Right.' Conversely, Roger L'Estrange would go on to condemn the Whigs as republicans, asking 'Whether the Clergy of the C. of E. are not concern'd to be as diligent against Phanaticism now, as of late against Popery.''James's failure sheds much light on the realities of political power in the three kingdoms. James was forced into an increasingly absolutist position - and to act more and more arbitrarily - because his subjects refused to cooperate with him.' (Harris) o 'James did not fall because he was overthrown by the superior military might of the foreign invading power. He fell because he failed to understand the realities of power within the Restoration polity and the (limited) ways in which royal authority could be effectively exercised. The collapse of his regime was, in that sense, due to domestic political turmoil.' Harris.

oDuke of Buckingham to Burnet during Charles II's reign - 'the king could see things if he would; the duke would see things if he could.'

Three different revolutions.

Popery and arbitrary gov come together in a national dimensionBritish dimension not necessarily key political driver of the events of the late Stuart period, but aggravated fears of arbitrary gov. and popery. o In both Scotland and Ireland, the late Stuart era was defined by the failure to construct adequate religious and social settlements. o Fear that popery, arbitrary government or Presbyterianism, had a billiard effect in the constituent nations. Difficulties of managing the three-kingdoms, politic/religio tensions cut deep. o Shaftesbury - 'Popery and slavery, like two sisters, go hand in hand...In England, popery was to have brought in slavery; in Scotland, slavery went before and popery was to follow', while he predicted that 'our other sister, Ireland, could not long continue in English hands, if some better care be not taken of it.' o In Scotland and Ireland, the demographics that would have constituted the natural source of support for the late-Stuart monarchs instead found themselves victims of the excesses of the royal prerogative or alienated by the pro-Catholic policies implemented by James in Ireland. o Caths gain ascendancy in both, shattering Protestant morale. Many unwilling to concede these liberties.Scotland used as a justificatory kingdom. While in England he recognised the need to act - or be perceived to act - within the confines of the law, he still chose to interpret the legal framework in a manner of his own choosing. o Lauderdale had taught Charles II that 'never was a King soe absolute as you are in poor old Scotland', and the same was true for his successor. o Parliament much weaker in Scotland, more of a conciliar court than a genuine counterweight to the sovereign. More akin to the continental shifts of an absolutist Crown periodically confronted by a governing body of nobles. The political and ideological framework was much more conducive to a purer form of absolutism. o Parliament proved itself pliable. On 28th April 1685 it passed an Excise Act that secured the Crown customs revenue for 'all time coming'. o alienates ruling elite and Episcopalian interest. Conversely, he provided the Presbyterians with the time to regain their strength, all in order to achieve only the slightest gains for a Catholic minority.The policy of Catholicisation pursued by James and Tyrconnell revealed not only their own personal failings, but highlighted the inherent instabilities in the Restoration Irish polity and the fundamental structural problems that made a longlasting, working solution to the governance of Ireland difficult to achieve. o Religious in nature? Rapid destabilisation brought about by the promotion of Catholic interests. o Also about access to political and economic power, to trading privileges and land
- but these issues reinforced the confessional divide, since by and large the

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