James, the second surviving son of King
Charles I and his wife,
Henrietta Maria of France, was born at
St. James's Palace in London on 14 October 1633.
 Later that same year, he was baptised by
William Laud, the
Archbishop of Canterbury.
 He was educated by private tutors, along with his brother, the future
King Charles II, and the two sons of the
Duke of Buckingham,
George and Francis Villiers.
 At the age of three, James was appointed
Lord High Admiral; the position was initially honorary, but would become a substantive office after the
Restoration, when James was an adult.
He was designated
Duke of York at birth,
 invested with the
Order of the Garter in 1642,
 and formally created Duke of York in January 1644.
The King's disputes with the
English Parliament grew into the
English Civil War. James accompanied his father at the
Battle of Edgehill, where he narrowly escaped capture by the Parliamentary army.
 He subsequently stayed in
Oxford, the chief
 where he was made a
M.A. by the University on 1 November 1642 and served as colonel of a volunteer regiment of foot.
 When the city surrendered after the
siege of Oxford in 1646, Parliamentary leaders ordered the Duke of York to be confined in
St. James's Palace.
 Disguised as a woman,
 in 1648 he escaped from the Palace, aided by
Joseph Bampfield, and from there he went to
When Charles I was executed by the rebels in 1649, monarchists proclaimed James's older brother king as
Charles II of England.
 Charles II was recognised as king by the
Parliament of Scotland and the
Parliament of Ireland, and was crowned
King of Scotland at
Scone in 1651. Although he was proclaimed King in
Jersey, Charles was unable to secure the
crown of England and consequently fled to France and exile.
Exile in France
Turenne, James's commander in France
Like his brother, James sought refuge in France, serving in the French army under
Turenne against the
Fronde, and later against their Spanish allies.
 In the French army James had his first true experience of battle where, according to one observer, he "ventures himself and chargeth gallantly where anything is to be done".
 Turenne's favour led to James being given command of a captured Irish regiment in December 1652, and being appointed Lieutenant-General in 1654.
In the meantime, Charles was attempting to reclaim his throne, but France, although hosting the exiles, had allied itself with
Oliver Cromwell. In 1656, Charles turned instead to Spain – an enemy of France – for support, and an alliance was made. In consequence, James was expelled from France and forced to leave Turenne's army.
 James quarrelled with his brother over the diplomatic choice of Spain over France. Exiled and poor, there was little that either Charles or James could do about the wider political situation, and James ultimately travelled to
Bruges and (along with his younger brother,
Henry) joined the Spanish army under
Louis, Prince of Condé in Flanders, where he was given command as Captain-General of six regiments of British volunteers
 and fought against his former French comrades at the
Battle of the Dunes.
During his service in the Spanish army, James became friendly with two Irish Catholic brothers in the Royalist entourage,
Richard Talbot, and became somewhat estranged from his brother's Anglican advisers.
 In 1659, the French and Spanish
made peace. James, doubtful of his brother's chances of regaining the throne, considered taking a Spanish offer to be an admiral in their navy.
 Ultimately, he declined the position; by the next year the situation in England had changed, and Charles II was proclaimed King.