In politics, a revolution occurs when one regime or ruling entity is overthrown and replaced by another. In world history, a large number of revolutions have occurred, many of them associated with revolutionary wars or violent coups. However, a small number of revolutions have occurred without violence or with minimal use of force. These are called nonviolent revolutions, peaceful revolutions, bloodless overthrows, or bloodless coups. One of the earliest nonviolent revolutions in history was the Glorious Revolution that occurred in England in 1688. Although it's sometimes called the Bloodless Revolution, there were some battles, but diplomacy and military strategy prevented full scale warfare.
Catholic Versus Protestant
The Glorious Revolution involved the overthrow of King James II of England. In the years preceding the revolution, there had been considerable controversy regarding James' successor. Until 1688, James had not had a son to serve as legitimate heir to the throne, so the next in the line of royal succession was his daughter, Mary. This state of affairs caused considerable political turmoil because, whereas James II was a Roman Catholic, Mary was a Protestant. A change in the religion of the ruler of the England would, in those days, have been a profoundly important event. Not only would the official religion of England change along with many aspects of daily life, the country's political ties would be almost reversed. As a Catholic, James had a close connection to France and other Catholic kingdoms. A Protestant queen would mean that England would sever ties with France and ally itself with the Netherlands and the German states.
A Legitimate Catholic Heir
In 1688, James II's son was born, assuring that a Catholic successor would become king upon James' death. However, a section of the English parliament, primarily represented by the Whig party, were unhappy with this turn of events. In addition to the Whigs, some members of the Tory party did not want England to remain so closely associated with France. When the king's son was born, these individuals collaborated in devising a plan to prevent the king's son from taking the throne.
William of Orange
The king's daughter, Mary, was married to a Dutch governor, William of Orange. William and Mary were prepared to ascend to the English throne, so when the members of parliament invited them to come to England and take the throne from James II, they were happy to oblige. In fact, William had already been planning an invasion of England, and the birth of James' son gave the English the motivation they needed to support the invasion, allowing it to succeed. Before leaving the Netherlands, William issued a document called The Declaration of the Hague, in which he stated his intention to protect the Protestant religion and Protestants in England and claimed that he did not intend to overthrow James II. After some difficulty, William and his army sailed to England.
William Takes Control
When William arrived in England, he took care not to incite the anger of the English army and not to anger the public by looting or pillaging. A few clashes between the Dutch and English armies took place as William slowly made his way to London through the countryside, and several riots against Catholics took place around the country. By the time William made it to London, the king and his son had fled. A provisional government was formed and William was asked to restore order. The provisional government also invited James II to return to London and negotiate with William. James did return, but William's behavior clearly indicated that he intended to assume the throne himself. Instead of arresting James, William convinced him to leave London of his own accord and installed the Dutch army in London.
One or Two Rulers?
After James was gone and the Dutch army was in control of London, William and Mary were able to ascend to power in England. Although there was some controversy regarding whether William should be king alongside Queen Mary, eventually the two were made joint monarchs despite William's Dutch descent. The members of the government who had supported the invasion ensured that the regime change was legal, and William of Orange became King William III of England on December 28, 1688. Although not quite completely nonviolent, the Glorious Revolution is a singular example in world history of an orchestrated regime change supported by the government and involving relatively little turmoil.