James II of England

James II and VII
James II by Peter Lely.jpg
Portrait by Peter Lely
King of England, Scotland and Ireland
Reign6 February 1685 – 11 December 1688
Coronation23 April 1685
PredecessorCharles II
SuccessorsWilliam III & II and Mary II
Born14 October 1633
(N.S.: 24 October 1633)
St. James's Palace, London
Died16 September 1701 (aged 67)[1] (N.S.)
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Church of the English Benedictines, Paris[2]
FatherCharles I of England
MotherHenrietta Maria of France
SignatureJames II and VII's signature

James II and VII (14 October 1633O.S. – 16 September 1701[1]) was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII,[3] from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The second surviving son of Charles I, he ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Charles II. Members of Britain's Protestant political elite increasingly suspected him of being pro-French and pro-Catholic and of having designs on becoming an absolute monarch. When he produced a Catholic heir, a son called James, leading nobles called on his Protestant son-in-law and nephew William III of Orange to land an invasion army from the Dutch Republic, which he did in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James fled England (and thus was held to have abdicated).[4] He was replaced by his Protestant eldest daughter Mary II and her husband William III. James made one serious attempt to recover his crowns from William and Mary when he landed in Ireland in 1689. After the defeat of the Jacobite forces by the Williamites at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, James returned to France. He lived out the rest of his life as a pretender at a court sponsored by his cousin and ally, King Louis XIV.

James is best known for his struggles with the English Parliament and his attempts to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists, against the wishes of the Anglican establishment. This tension made James's four-year reign a struggle for supremacy between Parliament and the Crown, resulting in his deposition, the passage of the Bill of Rights, and the accession of his daughter and her husband as queen and king.

Early life


James with his father, Charles I, by Sir Peter Lely, 1647

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.[5] Later that same year, he was baptised by William Laud, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

He was designated Duke of York at birth,[9] invested with the Order of the Garter in 1642,[10] and formally created Duke of York in January 1644.[6][9]

Civil War

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.[11] He subsequently stayed in Oxford, the chief Royalist stronghold,[12] where he was made a M.A. by the University on 1 November 1642 and served as colonel of a volunteer regiment of foot.[13] 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.[14] Disguised as a woman,[15] he escaped from the Palace in 1648 with the help of Joseph Bampfield, and crossed the North Sea to The Hague.[16]

When Charles I was executed by the rebels in 1649, monarchists proclaimed James's older brother king as Charles II of England.[17] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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".[18] Turenne's favour led to James being given command of a captured Irish regiment in December 1652, and being appointed Lieutenant-General in 1654.[15]

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.[19] 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[15] and fought against his former French comrades at the Battle of the Dunes.[20]

During his service in the Spanish army, James became friendly with two Irish Catholic brothers in the Royalist entourage, Peter and Richard Talbot, and became somewhat estranged from his brother's Anglican advisers.[21] 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.[22] Ultimately, he declined the position; by the next year the situation in England had changed, and Charles II was proclaimed King.[23]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: James 2-sè (Eng-lân)
беларуская: Якаў II Сцюарт
български: Джеймс II (Англия)
čeština: Jakub II. Stuart
Bahasa Indonesia: James II dari Inggris
kernowek: Jamys VII ha II
Lëtzebuergesch: James II. vun England
lietuvių: Jokūbas II
Bahasa Melayu: James II dari England
norsk nynorsk: Jakob II av England
Simple English: James II of England
српски / srpski: Џејмс II Стјуарт
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: James II od Engleske
Tiếng Việt: James II của Anh