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Friday, 4 September 2015

James II of England and VII of Scotland

James,  the Duke of York was born at St. James's Palace in London on October 14, 1633. He was the second surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France,

James with his father, Charles I

James' first wife was Anne Hyde. A visibly pregnant Anne married James in an official but private marriage ceremony in London on September 3, 1660, following the restoration of the monarchy.

Originally an Anglican, Anne became drawn to Catholicism, to which both she and James had been exposed during their time abroad and converted to it almost immediately after the Restoration. James also converted to Catholicism in 1669, but he still attended Anglican services until 1676.  When the news of his conversion leaked out he was forced to resign as Lord High Admiral due to the fuss caused by the Protestant aristocracy.

Anne, painted by Lely about 1670

James and Anne had eight children, but six died in early childhood. The two who survived to adulthood were Lady Mary, who succeeded her father after his deposition during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and Lady Anne, who succeeded her brother-in-law and became the first monarch of Great Britain.

Anne never recovered from her eighth child, Catherine's birth in early 1671. Ill with breast cancer, she died on March 31, 1671 aged 34. Her daughters succeeded as Queens regnant.

James married the Catholic Mary of Modena, a fifteen-year-old Italian princess in a Catholic ceremony on September 20, 1673. Many British people, distrustful of Catholicism, regarded the new Duchess of York as an agent of the Pope and there was much opposition to his potential succession to the English crown.

Mary of Modena. Portrait by Simon Pietersz Verelst, 1680

By 1681, Lord Shaftesbury was organizing petitions throughout England to forbid James, The Duke of York, from being the next king. The petitioners were called the "Whigs", while their opponents who supported James, were known as "Tories". However King Charles II rejected the "Exclusion Bill" barring his Catholic brother James from succeeding him on his death.

When Charles II died on February 6, 1685, he received the last rites from the Roman Catholic Church. He was succeeded by James, who reigned in England and Ireland as James II, and in Scotland as James VII.  James wanted to proceed quickly to the coronation, and was crowned with his wife at Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1685.

   King James II portrayed in his role as head of the Army Wikipedia Commons 

When James II was camped at Hounslow Heath on annual manoeuvres in 1686, he and his officers ate 12 dishes of ice cream at £1 each (£80 or $130  in today’s money) according to the Lord Steward’s accounts.

By 1688 James II 's attempts to restore Catholicism were alienating his subjects. When a son was born to him thus increasing the chances of a Catholic dynasty, a group of seven conspirators, both Whig and Tory, met at Revolution House near Chesterfield to plot the overthrow of the king and invite his daughter Mary and her Dutch Protestant husband William of Orange to invade England.

King James II, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (died 1723). 

William's flagship had the motto "The Protestant religion and the liberties of England and I will maintain it". He landed in Devon on November 5, 1688 and advanced to London unopposed deposing James II and claiming the throne.

James tried to flee to France on December 11, 1688. As he left, the now ex-king supposedly threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames, as no lawful parliament could be summoned without it.

James was captured in Kent. A few days later, he was released and placed under Dutch protective guard. Having no desire to make James a martyr, William of Orange let him escape on December 23, 1588.

With the assistance of French troops, James landed in Ireland in March 1689.  The Irish Parliament did not follow the example of the English Parliament and declared that James remained King

William III defeated a Jacobite army at the Battle of the Boyne on July 1, 1790. The battle took place across the River Boyne near the town of Drogheda in the east of Ireland.

Battle of Boyne 

James II and VII fled to France where he was received by his cousin and ally, Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a pension.

He died of a brain hemorrhage on September 16, 1701 at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. James' body was laid to rest in a triple sarcophagus (consisting of two wooden coffins and one of lead) at the Chapel of Saint Edmund in the Church of the English Benedictines in the Rue St. Jacques in Paris, with a funeral oration by Henri-Emmanuel de Roquette.

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