1688: The First Modern Revolution

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For two hundred years historians have viewed England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689 as an un-revolutionary revolution—bloodless, consensual, aristocratic, and above all, sensible. In this brilliant new interpretation Steve Pincus refutes this traditional view.

By expanding the interpretive lens to include a broader geographical and chronological frame, Pincus demonstrates that England’s revolution was a European event, that it took place over a number of years, not months, and that it had repercussions in India, North America, the West Indies, and throughout continental Europe. His rich historical narrative, based on masses of new archival research, traces the transformation of English foreign policy, religious culture, and political economy that, he argues, was the intended consequence of the revolutionaries of 1688–1689.

James II developed a modernization program that emphasized centralized control, repression of dissidents, and territorial empire. The revolutionaries, by contrast, took advantage of the new economic possibilities to create a bureaucratic but participatory state. The postrevolutionary English state emphasized its ideological break with the past and envisioned itself as continuing to evolve. All of this, argues Pincus, makes the Glorious Revolution—not the French Revolution—the first truly modern revolution. This wide-ranging book reenvisions the nature of the Glorious Revolution and of revolutions in general, the causes and consequences of commercialization, the nature of liberalism, and ultimately the origins and contours of modernity itself.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Steve Pincus is professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of Protestantism and Patriotism and England's Glorious Revolution. He lives in New Haven, CT.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments xi

Part 1 Introductory

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 The Unmaking of a Revolution 11

Chapter 2 Rethinking Revolutions 30

Part II Prerevolutionary England

Chapter 3 Going Dutch: English Society in 1685 49

Chapter 4 English Politics at the Accession of James II 91

Chapter 5 The Ideology of Catholic Modernity 118

Chapter 6 The Practice of Catholic Modernity 143

Chapter 7 Resistance to Catholic Modernity 179

Part III Revolution

Chapter 8 Popular Revolution 221

Chapter 9 Violent Revolution 254

Chapter 10 Divisive Revolution 278

Part IV Revolutionary Transformation

Chapter 11 Revolution in Foreign Policy 305

Chapter 12 Revolution in Political Economy 366

Chapter 13 Revolution in the Church 400

Part V Conclusion

Chapter 14 Assassination, Association, and the Consolidation of Revolution 437

Chapter 15 Conclusion: The First Modern Revoludon 474

Abbreviations 487

Notes 489

Manuscripts Consulted 619

Index 631

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  • Posted December 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not being an historian, nor deeply versed in the period in question, I found Pincus's exposition clear and compelling, feeling that most likely he got it right.

    This book is a wonderful tale, well told, of an event which almost certainly reverberates to this day. I was struck by how many of the concerns and issues given voice resonate both within the debates that engaged our own revolutionaries a century later and today.

    I was also struck, particularly at this moment when the wages of unbridled economic exploitation and boundless consumption are upon us, how the implications of the economic arguments which so engaged the protagonists in this tale were not, very likely could not have been, appreciated.

    Attitudes and concerns about the creation and implications of a large standing military were on the other hand anticipated; we are living the result today.

    Very basic questions about the nature of the state, governance of the state, legitimacy of the state, the relationship of property and the state are also front and center in this narrative; things for which the answer rests in the relationship established between the governing agency and the governed set against back drop of cultural assumptions.

    Good, provocative stuff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Very good read!

    I thought this was a very good read. It tells of several different aspects of the first "modern revolution." Steve Pincus did a fabulous job of writing it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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