Today In History
In 1689, the Convention Parliament convened in London to decide the matter of who was the rightful monarch of Great Britain with James II (James VII in Scotland) having committed two grievous errors: fleeing to France and being Catholic.
It was a tough time to be an English monarch. It hadn’t been that long since Charles I had his head displaced from his neck and James’ brother, Charles II had just died, converting to Catholicism on his death bed (!). James himself had two Protestant daughters, so Protestant folk in England were not too concerned that his increasingly pro-Catholic policies would last long. But then his wife gave birth to a son — James Francis Edward Stuart, who was baptized Catholic. Then it all kicked off.
Protestant leadership reached out to William of Orange (James’ daughter’s Mary’s husband) to foment an invasion. James refused the aid of Louis XIV, fled London ahead of William’s invasion, threw the Great Seal in the Thames, was arrested, allowed to escape and eventually posted up with Louis in France.
Thus, the Convention Parliament had a decision to make — did James abdicate or did he just vacate the throne (hilariously, there’s no provision for abdication at common law — something that would be problematic later)? Who would be heir (convolutedly, they settled on William and Mary ruling together)?
Complicating all of this, of course, was that the Convention Parliament wasn’t legitimate, setting a precedent for things called “Conventions” for years to come.
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