Friday, February 12, 2010

William and Mary

February 12, 1688 represented the end of the Glorious Revolution (of 1688) that led to the abdication of the English throne by James II.  William, Prince of Orange called a convention to select a new leader.  On the 12th of February, the convention decided: William of Orange and Mary, James' daughter, and William's wife, would become King William III and Queen Mary II of England.

Walter Scott writes of this change of power in his "Tales of a Grandfather."

"...The Convention, in the meantime, almost entirely freed from opposition within their own assembly, proceeded to determine the great national question arising out of the change of government. Two letters being presented to them, one from King James, the other on the part of the Prince of Orange, they opened and read the letter with much reverence, while they passed over with little notice that of his father-in-law, intimating by this that they no longer regarded him as a sovereign.

This was made still more manifest by their vote respecting the state of the nation, which was much more decisive than that of the English Convention. The Scots Whigs had no Tories to consult with, and were of course at no trouble in choosing between the terms of abdication or forfeiture. They openly declared that James had assumed the throne without taking the oaths appointed by law ; that he had proceeded to innovate upon the constitution of the kingdom, with the purpose of converting a limited monarchy to a despotic authority ; they added, that he had employed the power thus illegally assumed, for violating the laws and liberties, and altering the religion of Scotland ; and in doing so, had Forfeited his right to the Crown, and the throne had become vacant..."

The forfeiture, in strict law, would have extended to all James's immediate issue, as in the case of treason in a subject; but as this would have injured the right of the Princess-of Orange, the effects of the declaration were limited to King James's infant son, and to his future children. In imitation of England, the crown of Scotland was settled upon the Prince and Princess of Orange, and the survivor of them ; after whose decease, and failing heirs of their body, the Princess Anne and her heirs were called to the succession.

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