Friday, June 30, 2023

Today on the Almanac, we consider two events on the same day in 1688 which spelled the beginning of the end for Catholic monarchs in England.

It is the 30th of June, 2023. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at I'm your guest host, Sam Leanza Ortiz.


As a parting gift before Dan returns tomorrow for the weekend edition, I give you not one, but two events that happened on the same day, this the 30th of June, in 1688.

A letter from seven noblemen and the acquittal of seven bishops spelled the beginning of the end for the reign of King James II and Roman Catholicism as a political force in England and the beginning of its proudly Protestant identity.

James II was the younger brother of Charles II and son of the ill-fated Charles I and his Catholic Queen, Henrietta Maria.

James’s picture of Protestant England was not a pretty one. His father’s reign in the 1630s was on a decidedly downhill trajectory, and following the execution of Charles I, James found refuge in the arms of Catholic France.

Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, James returned to England and lived a quiet life as an unassuming heir presumptive.

He married, served in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and fought fires during the Great Fire of London as the years went on without an heir from Charles.

James’s position as heir presumptive became incredibly complicated when his conversion to Roman Catholicism in the late 1660s became public knowledge.

Roman Catholicism in England had been deeply unpopular since Mary Tudor’s day in the 1550s, and the news from Louis XIV’s France gave it an air of absolutism.

A revival of the Protectorate briefly threatened English life, but with no one eager for a return to that Cromwellian mess, everyone became reasonably okay with the possibility of a King James II, which came to be upon Charles II’s death in 1685.

Little changed initially upon James’s accession – if anything, the royal court, at least in its appearance, was more abstemious than it had been in a long time.

A few rebellions rose up but were quickly defeated. His relationship with Parliament went well at first, for a Stuart, but events in France complicated this relationship as Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, banning Protestantism under threat of heavy punishment.

James, rather than supporting Louis, advised England to accept many French refugees, but his desire to repeal the penal laws and Test Acts that excluded Catholics from aspects of English life provoked members of parliament to stress their distaste for “Popery.” James then adjourned the session until it was dissolved in 1687.

From this point forward, James exercised his royal prerogative to actively promote Catholicism in English life, an initiative that was realized for a brief moment in the “Declaration of Indulgence” that repealed penal laws not only against Catholics but all Nonconformists- such as Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers.

Responses to the “Declaration” varied across the kingdom as Baptists, Quakers, and Catholics tended to be supportive of the king’s venture, with gratefulness for their newfound liberties.

The most offended party were High Church Anglicans, who perceived the declaration as an attack on the Church of England.  

It was taking a while for the declaration to make the rounds, so James issued a proclamation ordering all clergymen to read it to their congregations. Seven bishops, including the Bishop of London, refused to read it, citing parliamentary precedent rendering the declaration illegal.

James reacted by pressing libel charges against the bishops, who were all too happy to suffer for their faith.

In case tensions weren’t high enough, about a week after the bishops entered the Tower of London, the Queen gave birth to a son, giving James a Catholic heir, whose legitimacy immediately came under question.

The bishop’s trial began on the 29th of June. James felt good about this, placing false confidence in the Dissenters on the jury panel. All seven bishops were acquitted the next morning, and the city erupted in cheers, bells rang out, and effigies of prince and pope were set alight.

On the same day these seven bishops were celebrating their freedom, seven noblemen were sending a letter to William, Prince of Orange, stating their satisfaction that “your Highness is so ready and willing to give us such assistances as they have related to us,” while assuring him that “there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the Kingdom who are desirous of a change.”

William, who was married to James’s Protestant daughter, Mary, needed little encouragement to invade England, but the written invitation was a nice gesture.

He arrived on the 5th of November that same year and the Glorious (though not entirely bloodless) Revolution was in full swing.

By February of the next year, James had abdicated and fled for France, and William was hailed as a Protestant liberator, setting England up as protector and promoter of worldwide Protestant interests for years to come.

The dominos for this massive shift in England’s Christian identity fell with fury with the outright rejection of James II on this day in 1688.


The last word for today comes from the daily lectionary, from Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I take counsel in my soul

    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?


3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;

    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.


5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

    because he has dealt bountifully with me.


This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 30th of June 2023, brought to you by 1517 at

This show has been produced by Christopher Gillespie.

This show has been written and read by Sam Leanza Ortiz, who knows better than to try to use a king to capture bishops….They can only move one square at a time.

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.

Subscribe to the Christian History Almanac

Subscribe to the Christian History Almanac

Subscribe (it’s free!) in your favorite podcast app.

More From 1517