chapter  13
10 Pages

Glorious Revolution?, 1688–1701

Although William was in control of London by December 1688, it was still uncertain what form any future settlement should take. Elections were held for a Parliament to consider the options. There were a number of possibilities: James could be invited back, providing he accepted limitations on his powers; William might rule as Regent for James in his absence; James could be deposed and replaced by Mary, or by Mary and William as joint monarchs. Any option which involved the removal of James from the throne was unappealing for the Tories, for whom the issue of hereditary right was fundamental. Yet political realities dictated otherwise. William declared that he was not willing to rule as a Regent, nor as a Prince Consort to his wife, but only as a joint monarch. If Parliament were to decide otherwise, according to Bishop Burnet, William declared that ‘he would not oppose them in it, but he would go back to Holland and meddle no more in their affairs’. Without William, England would again be plunged into crisis and possibly even civil war. In this situation, Parliament could not afford to call William’s bluff and opted instead for stability and public order. They declared that James had left the throne vacant by fleeing abroad, thereby forfeiting his hereditary rights. His place was to be taken by William and Mary as joint monarchs.