In England, the Revolution of 1688-89 shaped a new political context in which Whig leaders in parliament were able to construct a more moderate solution to the religious problem. The Act of Toleration (1689) exempted Trinitarian Dissenters from the penalties imposed by the former legislation, provided they took oaths of allegiance and supremacy It permitted them freedom to worship if their ministers subscribed to thirty-four of the Thirty-nine Articles.9 The Dissenters, however, were required to meet in unlocked buildings, pay tithes and church rates, and register their places of worship. The Act of Toleration did not permit any church or group of churches to set itself up as a rival to the established church, and it did nothing to relieve the consciences of Catholics, Jews, and non-Trinitarians. While the Revolution of 1688-89 was a new beginning in one sense, for English Dissenters it continued what was begun in 1662 by forcing them into a separate and politically inferior status, though, to be sure, without a great deal of active repression. Roman Catholics fared far worse: the laity was allowed to worship in private, but they were vulnerable to double taxation, their priests were proscribed, and the threat of harassment and imprisonment was ever present.

While the Revolution indicated that a single ecclesiastical establishment for all three kingdoms was unworkable, moderate solutions for Scotland and Ireland proved elusive. Following the Revolution of 1688-89, episcopacy in Scotland was abolished and between two and three hundred episcopal priests were driven from their parish churches. In June 1690, the Presbyterian Church was established by law. The General Assembly harassed episcopal clergy throughout the 1690s, alleging their disloyalty to the crown.10 Most Scots episcopalian clergy were indeed Jacobite in sympathy and they became increasingly so under the pressure of a Scottish Presbyterian state. In Ireland, under the conditions of an enforced exile, James II enjoyed a fleeting moment of triumph. In May 1689, with the Catholics in firm control of the Irish legislature, the legislature granted freedom of worship to Catholics, though it did not disestablish the Church of Ireland. This Catholic moderation did nothing to soften the severity of the Protestant reaction after James's Irish supporters were finally defeated in 1691, and by 1697 little was left of the toleration William III had originally envisioned for Ireland.

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