A land of liberty?
The Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 was a decisive moment in England's history; an invading Dutch army forced James II to flee to France, and his son-in-law and daughter, William and Mary, were crowned as joint sovereigns. The wider consequences were no less startling: bloody war in Ireland, Union with Scotland, Jacobite intrigue, deep involvement in two major European wars, Britain's emergence as a great power, a 'financial revolution', greater religious toleration, a riven Church, and a startling growth of parliamentary government. Such changes were only part of the transformation of English society at the time. An enriching torrent of new ideas from the likes of Newton, Defoe, and Addison, spread through newspapers, periodicals, and coffee-houses, provided new views and values that some embraced and others loathed. England's horizons were also growing, especially in the Caribbean and American colonies. For many, however, the benefits were uncertain: the slave trade flourished, inequality widened, and the poor and 'disorderly' were increasingly subject to strictures and statutes. If it was an age of prospects it was also one of anxieties.