James was determined to repeal the penal laws and test acts, to allow religious freedom and full political rights to Catholics and Dissenters. To achieve this he needed a compliant Parliament. As the great majority of MPs sat for boroughs, his attempts to secure a suitable Parliament focused on towns. The more urban rulers showed their opposition to his plans, the more blatantly he interfered in the towns' internal affairs. He used the powers given him in the charters of the early 1680s to remove members of corporation, but he also nominated their replacements, for which the charters made no provision. In 1688 he issued new charters to many towns confining the franchise to the corporation — which he nominated. These measures were backed up by threats and intimidation, some of them involving the army. When he fled in December 1688 many towns showed their hostility to his measures with riots and other disorders.
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