Friday, January 27, 2006

How to read this blog

Welcome to my blog on the later Stuarts. These posts are published weekly and consist of my notes for each class. At the risk of confusing you, the later blogs appear first so you need to scroll down for the earliest notes. Time goes backwards - you know this makes sense! The side-bar should help here. And of course you can copy and paste into a Word document and then re-arrange the material chronologically.

However this post and the following post on recommended books will always appear first.

Recommended books (updated)

I am not a specialist in the late seventeenth century and the postings on this blog are greatly indebted to a wide range of books on the period, notably the following:

Barry Coward, The Stuart Age, 2nd edn. (London: Longmans, 1992)
Tim Harris, Restoration: Charles II and his Kingdoms, 1660-1685 (London: Allen Lane, 2005)
Julian Hoppit, A Land of Liberty? England 1689-1727 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000)
Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996)
John Miller, James II: A Study in Kingship (London: Methuen, 1978)
Wilfred Prest, Albion Ascendant: English History 1660-1815 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)
Jonathan Scott, England's Troubles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
D. L. Smith, A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1701 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998)
These books will be referenced frequently, using the Harvard system (eg, Coward, 1992).


Did this song drive James out of England?

(You can listen to this is you have Real Player.)

Invasion and flight

William’s fleet sailed on 20 October but was forced back by a terrible storm and had to wait for an easterly wind. On 1 November it set sail a second time. Driven by a north-east wind (‘the Protestant wind’) the fleet sailed up the Channel and landed at Torbay on 5 November. (The same wind trapped the English fleet in the Thames estuary.) At first his experience seemed to replicate Monmouth’s - he was welcomed by the common people, but the gentry stayed at home. But four days later he entered Exeter and the tide began to turn in his favour. The army defections began on 16 October. On 21 November he began a slow march towards London. By this time Lord Delamere had secured Cheshire for him. On 21 and 22 November the earls of Devonshire and Danby seized Nottingham and York respectively.

But this did not mean that William’s victory was inevitable. Many powerful Tories, such as the Hyde brothers, Halifax, the earl of Nottingham and most bishops were not prepared to abandon James. If James had kept his head, he might have been able to rally his supporters. But at Salisbury on 23 November he lost his nerve. He could only sleep with the aid of drugs and he was bothered by a series of violent nosebleeds. Instead of marching out to meet William, he retreated to London. At this point John Churchill and the duke of Grafton defected, followed the next night by Prince George of Denmark. James was especially angry at Churchill’s defection – he had made him lieutenant-general and peer of the realm.

On 26 November James was back in London, where he learned that Anne, in company with Sarah Churchill, had fled from London. He sent out writs for a general election and commissioned Halifax, Nottingham and Godolphin to negotiate with William. By now the trickle of defections had became a flood. On 11 December he left London secretly, intending to flee to France, having sent his wife and son away two days earlier. (She landed at Calais on 21 December and wrote to Louis begging for his protection. ) James’s last actions were intended to produce an anarchical lack of order - especially his throwing the Great Seal into the Thames (between Lambeth and Horseferry). But this played into William’s hands. By deliberately creating a governmental vacuum he forced even the most loyal politicians into taking action to preserve government order. That night the London sky was red with flames from Catholic chapels as the citizens were terrified that an Irish army was about to descend on them – the night became known as ‘Irish night’. This opened up a general threat of mob attacks on property. An assembly of peers and bishops met at the Guildhall and established a kind of provisional government for London. The threat of chaos made William the indispensable agent in restoring order and government.

Unfortunately for William James failed to reach France at the first attempt. He was captured on Sheppey by fishermen who thought he was a Jesuit taken to Faversham, and returned to London, where he was cheered by the crowd. William was still some distance away. But on 17 December Dutch guards took over at Whitehall. On the next day William allowed James to go by boat to Rochester in the correct expectation that he would soon escape to France. After staying there a few days, he sailed to Ambleteuse on Christmas morning. Three days later he was united with the Queen at St Germain en Laye.

James’s flight meant that when William reached London on 19 December he had the support of both Whigs and Tories. He convened an assembly over Christmas to advise him. At the end of the year separate assemblies of peers and former members of the Commons invited William to take over the conduct of government for the time being and to order a general election for a ‘Convention’ to meet on 22 January 1689.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Preparations for invasion

In July 1688 William began to assemble a huge expeditionary force that ultimately comprised 463 ships, 5,000 horses, and some 14,000 men, though neither France nor England knew of his intentions. But the odds against a successful invasion were great.
1. England now had a standing army of c. 20,000 officers and men, which James was busy expanding.
2. In Europe William risked exposing the United Provinces to a French attack in his absence.
3. The practical problems with launching an invasion across the Channel were enormous, especially as this was to be done in the early winter. William’s invasion fleet was very large but it consisted mainly of unarmed transport ships, with an escort of some sixty warships – about as many as in James’s fleet.
4. William’s reception in England was far from certain. In particular, the Church of England was committed to non-resistance. His gamble depended on promises from English Protestant serving officers that they would defect.
On 20 September the Bavarian candidate (the Pope’s choice) was enthroned as archbishop elector of Cologne. Five days later a furious Louis invaded the Palatinate, using the pretext of his sister-in-law’s claim). His armies laid siege to the great city of Philippsburg, where they would be pinned down for the next two months. The atrocities committed in the Rhenish Palatinate, which transformed it into a wasteland, galvanized German opinion against France. From William’s point of view this was excellent news, as the French army was now tied down in Germany. Had they turned their attention to Maastricht or invaded the Spanish Netherlands, William would have had to cancel his plans. As a cover, in order to explain the build-up of the Dutch fleet, it was suggested that there might be a war in the Baltic between the Dutch and the Danes. The army could be explained by a plan to fight the French in the Rhineland. In fear of a possible Dutch invasion of France, Louvois ordered the garrisons of Calais and Boulogne to be strengthened. It was not until early October that he realised William’s true intentions, by which time it was too late.

On 28 September William told the States-General of his plan to invade England. His biographer, Stephen B. Baxter, believes that it was his intention all along to seize the throne (he had known since 1686 that Mary wanted him to be king regnant, and he did not wish to be a consort like Philip II). However, he could hardly make public this intention so the pretext was that he wanted to force James to summon a parliament.

On 30 September William issued a Declaration of reasons for appearing in arms in the kingdom of England. In this he made no mention of any intention to depose James – he called for a free parliament and demanded an investigation of the legitimacy of James’s son.

In late September and early October James made a series of panic concessions: he dissolved the Commission for Ecclesiastical Causes, re-instated the Magdalen fellows (expelling the Catholics), restored some corporation charters, and dismissed Sunderland. Does this remind you of anything?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Decision to Invade

When did William decide to invade England?

In 1687 he sent two emissaries, Everard van Weede van Dijkvelt in the spring and Willem Zuylestein in August, who established an even firmer relationship between William and the major political figures in England. However there is no serious evidence that he was considering armed intervention at this time. But in April 1688 he told Admiral Edward Russell, then visiting his palace at Het Loo, that he was considering an English invasion. He had come to believe that James’s actions were threatening the monarchy. He believed that an English republic would be a disaster for Holland; another Cromwell, bent on colonial expansion and commercial enterprise, would have ruined his whole European strategy.

On 9 May Frederick William of Brandenburg, the Great Elector, William’s uncle by marriage died. In his old age he had become very unpredictable, and was a major bar to any concerted anti-French policy. His successor, Frederick III, was William’s heir, and extremely well disposed towards William.

In June, William sent Zuylestein on a second mission to England on the pretext of a congratulatory message on the birth of the prince. The real purpose was to procure the letter of invitation from ‘the immortal seven’. But the invitation was vaguely worded and there is no evidence that the signatories were inviting William to seize the throne.

The European Situation

Louis XIV’s policy in the early 1680s was one of réunions, whereby border towns were incorporated into the French state and forced to accept Catholicism.

In 1680-1 the French attacked Orange, where William’s family had its hereditary estates. In August 1681 they occupied the town and pulled down its walls and let the dragonnades loose on the town. This was a final insult to William as a sovereign prince. For a while though he was helpless, as the States General would not allow him to increase the number of armed forces. In September 1681 the Protestant city of Strasbourg was taken from the Empire, giving the French control of much of the lower Rhine. The barrier town of Luxembourg was then besieged (it fell in June 1684).

William’s only answer to his dilemma was to build up an anti-French alliance. However, the Emperor Leopold I was distracted by the Turkish invasion. In 1683 the Turks were at the gates of Vienna. When the siege lifted, Austria was still tied down in the Balkans.

In August 1684 in the Treaty of Ratisbon (Regensburg) the French acquisition of Strasbourg was confirmed in return for Louis’s promise of a twenty year truce in Europe.
However in the following years, France’s enemies were able to unite against her.

The Revocation of Edict of Nantes led to much ill-feeling in the Netherlands, where Dutch citizens resident in France found themselves forbidden to leave French territory. Amsterdam, previously criticised for being pro-French, became Orangist. This enabled William to gain the backing of the States-General for war against France and to build up the Dutch navy which had been run down after the war with England.

Innocent XI
showed open disapproval of the Revocation. The French declared the whole quarter of Rome in which the French embassy was situated to be French territory - thus becoming a haven for criminals. The pope refused to see the new ambassador, the ambassador was excommunicated, and the French threatened to sequester the papal enclave of Avignon.

In 1685 the Elector of Brandenburg abandoned his pro-French policy. Early in 1686 Sweden made a treaty with the Dutch. Shortly afterwards the princes of Germany formed the League of Augsburg (the emperor, the king of Spain, the king of Sweden, the elector of Bavaria) to protect Germany from further encroachments.

The involvement of the Empire was possible because the Turkish threat had receded with the capture of Buda in 1686. In the summer 1687 the Austrians took Belgrade. The military position was now transformed: for the first time in years it would now be possible to put an imperial army on the Rhine.

The Birth of the Prince of Wales

On 10 June Mary of Modena gave birth (very publicly and a month earlier than expected) to a son, christened James Francis Edward, opening up the prospect of a Catholic dynasty. Mary and Anne were displaced, as was Mary’s husband, William. Mary and Anne were both firmly convinced that the pregnancy was false and the child spurious. James was thought to be unhealthy and the queen’s medical history seemed to make pregnancy unlikely. Anne, who was in Bath and therefore did not witness the birth, believed she had been duped over the dates. Mary was therefore very ready to believe that she had been cheated of her inheritance and that the Church of England was in grave danger. Her belief was reinforced a series of scurrilous Dutch pamphlets.

The story that an infant had been smuggled into the queen's bed in a warming pan is, of course, without foundation. The interesting question is why so many people believed - or, more accurately, needed to believe - such an absurd fabrication!

On 29 June the seven bishops were brought from the Tower to Westminster Hall to be tried in front of a large and partisan crowd, who hissed Sunderland (who had just become a Catholic) when he gave evidence. Two of the four judges condemned the dispensing power: ‘If this once be allowed of, there will need no Parliament’ all the legislature will be in the King’. On 30 June the jury acquitted them of seditious libel. When informed, James said, ‘So much the worse for them’. ‘In fact he had written his own epitaph.’ That night there were bonfires in London.

On 30 June seven leading Protestants representing Whig and Tory opinion (Edward Russell, Henry Sidney, Lord Lumley, Bishop Compton and the earls of Shrewsbury, Devonshire and Danby) wrote to William of Orange pledging their support if he brought a force to England against James. They told William that he had been wrong to compliment James on the birth of his son and that ‘nineteen parts of twenty of the people … are desirous of a change.’ But William’s decision had already been made. The letter from the ‘Immortal Seven’ had come as no surprise.

The Seven Bishops

The court politics of early 1688 were dominated by the queen’s pregnancy (which was going well) and the campaign to pack Parliament (which was going badly).

The pregnancy was announced in December 1687 (late - presumably in order to be sure). Once the news became public Catholic zealots were convinced that the child would be a boy; Aphra Behn wrote A Congratulatory Poem … on the Universal Hopes of All Loyal Persons for a Prince of Wales. In this atmosphere of increased confidence Father Petre was made a privy councillor. The Catholic triumphalism convinced Protestant conspiracy theorists believed that a spurious child was being foisted on the nation. James's daughter, Princess Anne of Denmark, went out of her way to plant this notion in her sister’s mind. When William heard the news he became intensely anxious, and many of his English contacts argued that Mary would lose her right to the throne, the Protestant cause in England would be lost, James might purge the army of Protestants and James and Louis would mount a campaign against Holland.

On 27 April 1688 James re-issued the Declaration of Indulgence, with a postscript stating his intention to call a Parliament by November at the latest. On 4 May issued an order to the Anglican clergy to read it from their pulpits first in London and then in the rest of the country.

On 17 May William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury and six other bishops (William Lloyd, bishop of St Asaph; Francis Turner, bishop of Ely; John Lake, bishop of Chichester; Thomas Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells; Thomas White, bishop of Peterborough; Jonathan Trelawney, bishop of Bristol) signed a petition to the king claiming that they refused to publish the Declaration because it ‘is founded upon such a dispensing power as hath often been declared illegal in Parliament’. James: ‘This is a standard of rebellion. … I will be obeyed’. But to his dismay many leading Dissenters supported the bishops. To add to his problems, it was not clear what law the bishops had broken. Significantly, Jeffreys and the Commission for Ecclesiastical Causes wanted nothing to do with the case.

On 8 June, the bishops were brought before the Court of Kings Bench on a charge of scandalous libel (altered a few days later to seditious libel), and were sent to the Tower pending the hearing of their case. This immediately turned them into martyrs and revealed the limitations of the Anglican doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

James and the Church of England

James’s chief problems lay with the Church of England. In spite of its doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience, it was jealous of its privileges and deeply resentful of the Catholicising policies. In March 1686 James issued a set of Directions to Preachers ordering the clergy to steer clear of provocative topics like attacks on Rome. In May, John Sharp, dean of Norwich and rector of St Giles in the Fields, disobeyed. James ordered Henry Compton, bishop of London, to suspend him from preaching. Compton refused, highlighting James’s inability to control the Anglican clergy. In an attempt to put this right, he established a Commission for Ecclesiastical Causes under Jeffreys in July. Its first act in September was to suspend Compton from his bishopric.

This was followed by the dismissal from office of his two brothers-in-law. Clarendon, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, went in the summer of 1686 and was replaced by Tyrconnell at the end of the year. Tyrconnell then began a vigorous purge of Protestants in local government. Rochester was given the chance to show his support for James’s plans by turning Catholic. When he refused he was dismissed as Lord Treasurer on 27 December 1686. Halifax had already been dismissed from his post of Lord President of the Council, and the king now had no chief ministers who were unequivocal Anglicans.

At some time James decided to revive his brother’s unsuccessful policy of the 1670s and to seek an alliance with the Protestant dissenters. During 1686 he made several overtures to individual dissenters, of which the most prominent was William Penn, whom he dispensed from the penal legislation. In November 1686 he established a Licensing Office where dissenters could buy certificates of dispensation. By the beginning of 1687 the persecution of Dissenters had virtually ceased.

Penn, a genuine believer in religious toleration, seemed to be a useful ally. He organized petitions of thanks from some dissenting congregations, and in November 1686 he went to Holland to get the support of William and Mary for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. But William said that he was prepared to allow Catholics to worship unmolested, but not to admit them to public office.

The hounding of Rochester and Clarendon out of office was part of a new and more vigorous phase in the campaign to secure the repeal of the penal laws and the Test Acts. On 4 April 1687 James announced the corner-stone of his new policy: a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended all the penal laws, the Test and Corporation Acts. This was to claim a prerogative for the crown parallel with the dispensing power: the suspending power. James’s reliance on the dissenters to provide him with a packed parliament was a serious miscalculation based on an over-estimate of their numbers. James also underestimated dissenting distrust of his motives. In the summer of 1687 Halifax published a Letter to a Dissenter. You are ‘to be hugged now, only that you may be the better squeezed at another time’. James’s policy only served to unite Anglicans and Dissenters.

The Magdalen College Affair: In April 1687 James began a long campaign to force the fellows of Magdalen College , Oxford, to accept a reputed Catholic, Anthony Farmer, as their president. (He had already forced the fellows of Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, to accept a Catholic convert as their master.) In defiance of the king, the fellows promptly elected their own candidate. In October the Commission for Ecclesiastical Causes deprived all twenty-five Fellows of their fellowships. ‘By his rigidity and vindictiveness [James] put himself in the wrong and completed the alienation of the Anglicans.’ In the following March a Catholic, Bonaventure Gifford, was imposed on the college and mass was publicly celebrated in its chapel.

The Purging of the Corporations: On 2 July James dissolved Parliament and clearly hoped that a new parliament would repeal the Test and Corporation Acts. From the autumn of 1687 he and his advisors, notably Sunderland and Jeffreys, began systematically to build up a powerful electoral organization, purging JPs who did not support repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts and issuing quo warranto writs against recalcitrant boroughs. They were consciously imitating the tactics of the Whig exclusionists in the elections of 1679 and 1681. By the spring of 1688 14 of the twenty-four Lords Lieutenant, three-quarters of all JPs and over 1,200 members of town corporations had been dismissed and replaced by what John Evelyn called ‘the meanest of the people’.

Scotland and Ireland

The problem for James was that his policy of granting more toleration coincided with events outside England such as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

In Ireland he very quickly alienated powerful Protestant interests by giving his support to Richard Talbot, who became earl of Tyrconnell in 1685 and Lieutenant-General of the Irish Army in March 1686. His nickname was ‘Lying Dick Talbot’; he was regarded as a drunken buffoon, though he had a sharp political brain. Tyrconnell began a campaign to purge the Irish army of Protestants. By September 1686 40% of officers and 67% of the rank and file were Catholics. James’s policies in Ireland seemed to give the lay to his protestations that he had no intention of promoting Catholics at the expense of Anglicans.

In Scotland, a country which James knew and seemed to have liked (unlike Ireland) Catholicism was promoted through a Scottish Declaration of Indulgence (February1687) which granted freedom of worship to Catholics and Quakers, but not Presbyterians. It was issued on the grounds of his ‘Absolute power, which all our subjects are to obey without reserve’. This seemed to confirm the association of Catholicism with absolutism.

Catholicising policies

In November 1685 the second session of James's Parliament met. There was dissent in the Council and the Marquess of Halifax was dismissed as President because he said he could not support the repeal of the Test Acts. On 9 November James addressed Parliament, demanding money for a standing army and refusing to dismiss the Catholic officers. On 12 November the House responded with speeches praising the militia’s virtues and questioning the need for a standing army. Two days later the Commons presented an address declaring that the employment of papists was illegal. On 20 November James prorogued parliament after less than two weeks. It was never to meet again and it was dissolved in July 1687. Just nine months into his reign James had broken with the Tories who had supported him since 1680.

If the king could not achieve toleration of Catholics through Parliament, he still had considerable powers to improve their plight. James’s brother-in-law, Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, was marginalized. Instead the king turned to advisors who would tell him what he wanted to hear: his wife Mary Beatrice, Sunderland the court weather-vane, Barillon, the French ambassador, and the Jesuit, Edward Petre. In September 1685 he decided to re-establish diplomatic relations with Rome and picked as his ambassador the devoutly Catholic earl of Castlemaine. In November the papal envoy arrived (though James showed himself surprisingly independent of papal control).

Ministers and bishops were horrified when he allowed the establishment of seminaries in London and patronized Catholic presses. He even sent a priest to Holland to ensure Mary’s conversion.

When this policy failed, James fell back on the dispensing power - the right to dispense individuals from the operations of acts of Parliament. In June 1686 this was tested in Godden v. Hales before the judges of the common law courts. Shortly before the trial, James canvassed the judges and dismissed six of them. Eleven of the twelve judges then upheld the monarch’s dispensing power.

However, though James seemed to have the law on his side, by 1688 less than a quarter of the JPs and deputy lieutenants were Catholics. Disappointed, James poured money and effort into a missionary campaign and arranged for personal interviews with leading politicians in order to bring about their conversions. However, only one major conversion was secured - that of the earl of Sunderland in the summer of 1688 - after the birth of James’s son. But his efforts were probably doomed to fail as the stories of the French dragonnades had intensified English anti-Catholicism.