Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Scotland and the Revolution of 1688-90
Rie Tomita
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1992 Volume 101 Issue 6 Pages 1151-1172,1232-


One of the controversial points about the so called "Glorious Revolution" has been whether or not it was a mere coup d'etat within the English court. In order to answer this question, the author examines politics and religion in Dundee, a Scottish royal burgh, and its environs. As a result of this research, the author concludes the following in terms of constitutional change in Scotland. After 1690, the local presbytery, attended by high ranking laymen, raised its authority to the same level as that of the town council. This enabled the presbytery to play its proper role as the crucial church court of the presbyterian church by exerting authority in the locality. This fact is important in the sense that the very existence of an active presbytery of this kind differs clearly from the exclusively clerical low-profile and passive episcopalian presbytery, which was part of the system supporting the ideology of 'sacred majestie'. In other words, it can be said that the "Revolution of 1688-90" established by law a presbyterian church which had a coherent voice and own decision-making functions, having a broad social base closely associated with the local society. The "Revolution", therefore, in Scotland was more than a court revolution. The town of Dundee was ripe for rebellion, infuriated with 'ane arbitrary and Despotik way' of King James in his interference with burgh affairs. The "Revolution" swept away the old council appointed by James and the influence of the former provost, Viscount Dundee, and then expelled the two episcopalian ministers in the town and after intense activity secured two presbyterian ministers to replace them. This shows that 1)each of the church denominations, episcopalian and the presbyterian, stood on their respective interpretation of the relationships between God, King and people, the former being connected with absolute kingship and the latter tied to the "Revolution", and 2)they were confronting each other in too irreconcilable a manner to make their co-existence possible. From 1690 to 1715, confrontation between the two parties in Scotland was more severe than their equivalent in England and resulted in repeated rebellions. This was mainly because there had been, on one hand, a strong presbyterian tradition in the South-West and in the towns, the implication of which was quite radical in seeing the King as only the servant of God, while on the other hand, Scotland had firm-minded Jacobite episcopalians who were faithful to the Stuart hereditary line and its divine authority. No easy compromise was possible. When and where the "Revolution" won the day, a Shift in allegiance took place; that is, from venerating the sacred person of the king himself to respecting the regime or the "Revolution" principle itself. In fact, rediscovery of the Protestant principles of the nation was significant, especially in international politics, when Louis XIV of France was overwhelming the Continent, repealing in 1685 the 1598 Edict of Nantes. These constitutional and ideological changes were significant, and in retrospect, led to a watershed of history.

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© 1992 The Historical Society of Japan
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