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The Glorious Revolution

In 1688, a revolution to end the reign of James II and usher in William III and Mary II was held. According to the textbooks, this revolution followed continued efforts to end a reign that has been oppressive and inconsiderate of the minority groups. The move to oust James II from power was, however, castigated further by his open declaration that he intended to bring back and reinstall Roman Catholicism as the country’s official religion. From the documentary, however, the Glorious Revolution was not planned in a day. It was the result of continued fears of Catholic tyranny in Britain and planning the genesis of a constitutional monarchy that is guided by parliamentary democracy. The meetings that were held to this effect were captured and presented in the documentary but are lacking in most of the textbooks.

Besides expressing more clearly the intent of the revolution, the documentary also stresses the concept that the issues at hand during the revolution were both religious and political, religiously, there was the fear that imposing a religion to the Britons was rather backward and a freer society was easier to develop. These sentiments are echoed by several speakers in the documentary but only scantly explored in the books. Politically, the political front believed that it was time to start a system of government that was managed by a constitution and a legal institution. The books fail to recognize the weight of this motive.

From the documentary, there are several important points about James II that are not available in the books. First, James II was a great leader but not a symbol of unity for his people. From what we see in the documentary, James’s people plotted the revolt after the official announcement of his intent to bring back an official religion in the country. his inability to control even his closes officials is clear when the same people who enjoyed being close to the power expressed concerns about the conspiracy theory that there were Catholics who intended to plan a coup against the British government. This heightened the fears of Popery and Catholicism, a trend that James II was unable to control. The second quality of James II from the documentary is that he was rather formal and stiff. He was not social with the people he led and was therefore not well-liked by the British. As we see him compete with Charles II to build a personal power base, James uses only threats, and power to build a base but Charles II tries to win people by being close to them and helping them in their needs. These differences led to an easy and glorious revolt that ousted James II from the throne quite easily.

Thirdly, throughout the documentary we are made to see James as someone who did not keep his word. Probably on the realization that he was not close the people, he started vocally championing for tolerance among the people. However, his character proved that he could not live by the same value he championed. The planned declaration of a state’s official religion proved this to all the viewers and made everyone see James II as a different person altogether.

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