The 'Glorious Revolution' (1688)
The unexpected birth of an heir to the throne (James III) brought about the threat of a permanent Catholic dynasty for England. Whigs and Tories summoned William III of Orange ('For the Protestant faith and a free parliament'). In 1688, the Glorious Revolution followed a bloodless course with the flight of James II to France. The campaign of William III against the Catholic 'Jacobites' in Ireland culminated in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne and the capitulation of Limerick (1692).
For England, the significance of this short struggle was two-fold. First, the right of parliamentary approbation was granted to the gentry and the city by the 1689 Declaration of Rights (approval of taxation, freedom of speech, no standing army). To secure the personal liberty and property of the citizens, John Locke provided the theoretical justification for the division of the powers of the state into the legislative and executive branches in his Two Treatises of Government (1689). The second significant outcome for England was its rise to the position of leading commercial and financial power of the world - the Bank of England being established in 1694.
Europe watched as the constitutional monarchy began to replace absolutism as a form of government. French hegemonic policies countered with the principle of the balance of power - resulting in war between France and England (1689-1697).
The world over, rivalry on the seas was decided in favour of England (in Personal Union with Holland until 1702). Anglo-French dualism in colonial affairs also developed worldwide.