James II

The Genealogy 

James was Fifty- one when ascended the throne. Had served in armies of France and Spain as officer. Became Lord Admiral under Charles and successful Naval Administrator. James commanded of English fleet against the Dutch.
As King:Impossible-dull, obstinate, rigid, brusque, suspicious, blind to public opinion, determined to have his way whatever the consequences. May have suffered mental decline about time he ascended the throne. Inflated confidence in military power-callousness toward human suffering. Practiced Catholicism, openly-but- bigoted in religion -determined to force Catholicism on England. Acted as tyrant, brushing established law and custom aside.

The Trouble with the Illegal forcing of Catholicism on England

G.M. Trevelyan writes:
“The solid part of the Roman Catholic body in England consisted of country squires, excluded from the magistracy but not from society, and living on very tolerable terms with their Tory neighbors. They had no goodwill for the policy which James was adopting at the suggestion of the French and Jesuit party, and with the applause of unprincipled English sycophants like Jeffreys and Sunderland. The Catholic squires knew their country-men well enough to be sure that supremacy could never be won for their religion ,except by foreign arms and civil war; and a second civil war might end, as likely as not, in completing the ruin of the English Catholics which the first had half accomplished. In these views they were supported by Pope Innocent XI, a man of sense and moderation,.....Innocent had quarrels of his own with Louis XIV and the French Jesuits; he dreaded the French power in Italy in Europe, and there fore watched with sympathy the sailing and the success of William's Protestant crusade because it would release England from he French vassalage. What the Pope and the moderate English Catholics hoped to obtain in England was not political supremacy but religious toleration.” A Shortened History of England.,G.M. Trevelyan,Penguin,1971 p.345

William of Orange Supported toleration with all his strength. A Chronology of the Acts of James II

Rebellion of Duke of Monmouth- Landed at Lyme Regis in Dorset June 1685. Proclaimed himself rightful king. 6,000 peasants armed with farming implements joined him. Defeated at Battle of Sedgemoor-great slaughter without mercy. 300 peasants executed 800 more sold as slaves in the West Indies. James increases size of army.

-James places Catholic officers who had not complied with the requirements of the Test Act into the military. But even after importing Irish Catholic officers he could not replace all Protestant officers.

-James presses on with Romanizing and despotic policies. Brings army to outskirts of London to overawe parliament. Catholics advised the king in his despotism: The Earl of Sunderland,Judge Jeffreys,Father Edward Petre.

-1686 names/ creates court of Ecclesiastical Commission with powers over the clergy-this was illegal and outside of his powers (since 1641) The commission suspends bishop of London and installs catholic heads to major Oxford colleges. The faculty of Magdalen College holds to their legal right to appoint college head-and are expelled.In these acts the king was overriding due process with his tyranny.

-April 1687- James Issues Declaration of Indulgence -suspends penal laws and other statutes.(-also an illegal act). James then started to pack the Commons. He then meddled with town charters, installing Catholics. The justices of the peace,however, would still not repeal the Test Act.

-Whereas the church of England had granted toleration - the Catholic government could not be trusted. Dissenting groups eventually supported church of England against the Crown.

-1688-Seven bishops were tried-would not read Declaration of Indulgence and protested against it. The jury returned verdict of non guilty, and the bishops were freed.

-James and Queen Mary of Modena had son June 10, 1688 This meant that succession would go to a Catholic which was unacceptable to parliament instead of James Protestant daughters Mary or Anne

After the acquittal of the bishops William of Orange was invited by Parliament to rule as King (he was husband of Mary). James son was to be declared a foundling and or the king declared insane. James declines the offer of assistance from Louis XIV of the French fleet -William lands on November 5 (anniversary of the Gunpowder plot) James ran away after attempting to face William with the army. He went to the court of Louis XIV in France.

This gives Parliament the justification it was looking for and did not have to resort to tricks- the throne had been vacated and Parliament needed to fill it- they did with William and Mary -Mary requires that power be shared-with William responsible for Administration.

Following the abdication of James II the English Government in a number of acts, including the Bill of Rights of 1689,Toleration act and Mutiny act, strengthened the development of the constitutional monarchy which granted greater toleration of dissenters while James II plotted in France to bring his intolerant and tyrannical form of absolutist rule to Ireland in service of the French king.

Through the abdication of James II , William III came to the throne and then defeated James II who tried to re-start his Tyranny in Ireland with the backing of Louis XIV of France William defeated James at the Battle of the Boyne and James returned to the French court. James upon his retreat at the Boyne requested that the Irish give up the fight and surrender.

Following the Boyne battle (July 1,1690 old calendar July 12 -our calendar) A new war began-a rebellion against England on the part of the Irish. The Irish armies were ill -equipped and undermanned-If ever the advice of James was to be taken it was in this instance. None the less the risk was taken and a bloody rising pursued until the treaty of Limerick. Had not this ill advised rising taken place parliament probably would not have had the will to override William III to bring the strict Penal Laws down upon Ireland.

With every rising there is the risk of failure-and backlash of the power you have challenged. The rebellion was seen not only as an attempt at Irish freedom but due to the alliance with the French and the motives of Louis XIV it became a threat to the existence of England-playing with fire resulted in the heat of the Penal Laws.


A History of England.,David Harris Willson,Dryden Press,Hinsdale,Illinois,1972. 

Just think.... New York!!!Being Named after such an Absolutist Tyrant! I think it is time it was changed to

W I L L I A M S B U R G!

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