James II entered the political arena in 1634 as the duke of York and Albany. After the execution of his father in 1649, James made his way to the Continent.
After the death of Charles II, James’ brother, he became king in 1685. There was great concern amongst Parliament that “popery” might find its way back to England because James II converted to Roman Catholicism. Additionally, he was most antagonistic with regard to the Anglican Church and the Parliament.
Cromwellism had opened the door to the reversal of “political absolutism”, albeit by regicide. England, during the “invited” rein of Charles II had enjoyed more individual freedom and very little religious tensions. Parliament understood that there was a very real threat of returning to 1600 conditions if they failed to respond to James II, that claimed as king he was “above the law”. James believed in absolute monarchy and total control. He was unable to separate the church from the state and most likely believed himself to be a god on earth with divine rights.
Parliament was content to wait for his death until 1688 when a son was born to the king. James II had his son baptized Catholic, Parliament was left with no choice, and they had to intervene.
Covertly, the Parliament invited William III of Holland, the husband of Mary, James’ Protestant daughter to bring military forces to England. This single act concluded the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The revolution was precise and more importantly bloodless.
In contrast, Louis the XIV, know as the “Sun King”, imposed absolute rule on France and fought a series of wars in an attempt to dominate all of Europe.Educated by a Roman Catholic Cardinal, Louis believed himself to be by God’s will the personification of the state. Louis, a shrewd king, made it a rule to exclude men of nobility from important government office. He chose men of lower class to fill the most important government offices. His motive, that they would owe their higher standing and prominence in life to him alone.
Additionally, Louis held court to hear complaints against the nobles and to sentence punishments on those that abused their powers and mistreated the peasants. Several nobles were even condemned to death. The king was sending clear message, that his law and his will had supreme power over old feudal privileges.
By reducing the power of the nobles and building a large army, Louis XIV succeeded imposing absolute rule. His reign was the longest in European history and made France the “bureaucratic model for 18-century, absolutist Europe (Microsoft)”.
Greer, Thomas H. ; Garvin Lewis. A Brief History of the Western World. 7th ed.
New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997.
Blum, Jerome, Cameron, Rondo ; Thomas G. Barnes. The European World.
2nd ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1970.
Microsoft Corporation. Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. 1993-1999.