Article Index


The Glorious Revolution and the world

The Glorious Revolution influenced the worlds in two ways. The successful Anglo-Saxon forms of governance have been copied around the world. With the exception of Switzerland and the United States, and only if we disregard their civil wars , only the Westminster system has been successful in providing limited stable government  over extended periods, particularly in periods of stress.

Most of the world’s successful nations have adapted the principles of the Glorious Revolution. But the Glorious Revolution has had another influence, one on the peace and freedom of the world. Barone writes that the revolution brought a theme to British foreign policy which the United States inherited when she succeeded as the dominant force in the world. This was the concept of the balance of power.

Barone sees a line from the Anglo-Dutch alliance against Louis XIV, through  the opposition to Napoleon, to that against  Imperial Germany and then Hitler. This continued during the Cold War and into today’s struggle against today’s terrorism. [xiii]

Barone wonders “What kind of world would there be if Britain and then the United States had not gotten into the habit of opposing tyrannical hegemonic powers?”

Whatever the world would have been like, he asserts that Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler Stalin and Osama bin Laden would not have been so constrained and most may not have been defeated. Barone concludes that William III and what he terms the improbable revolution of 1688 were indispensable in bringing into being the world we know today.

He ends with these words from Winston Churchill: “His daring and determination and perseverance should be an inspiration to any who are inclined to weariness and flagging resolve in trying times.” [xiv]

Never before, and not since, has there been such a remarkable achievement in such a short time, the discovery of a model of governance which would at one and the same time assure stable government, checks and balances sufficient to prevent continuing and gross abuse of power, and freedoms which would allow a people to grow in a way which had not been seen before.

It was this model which both allowed economic progress and the gradual introduction of democracy, in a way that other governance models promised but never delivered.  And this was the basis of both the American system which has been the basis of the rise of that union, and of the Westminster system which has been so widely and successfully adapted in so many countries.

Andrew Roberts, op.cit., p 637
[ii] Barone,op.cit., p236-237
[iii] The Proclamation of 1763 was made on 7 October 7, 1763 by King George III at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War. The Proclamation in effect reserved land west of the Appalachian Mountain to the Indians.
[iv] R. v. Knowles, ex parte Somersett (1772) 20 State Tr 1; (1772) Lofft 1
[v] Barone,op.cit.,p.7
[vi]The most celebrated was by Lincoln Steffens who after returning from a visit to  Russia in 1921 said "I have seen the future and it works."
[vii] Barone, loc.cit.
[viii] Barone,op.cit.,p. 8[ix] Barone, op.cit., p. 229
[x] Barone, loc.cit.[xi] Mead op.cit., p.47
[xii] Barone, op.cit., p. 232
[xiii] Barone, op.cit., p. 240 
[xiv] Barone, op.cit., p. 243
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