King James II

King James II (born 14 October 1633; ascended to thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland 6 February 1685, deposed 11 December 1688)

Second son of King Charles 1st, James escaped captivity dressed as a girl and was brought up on the continent. He served with distinction as a soldier in the armies of France and Spain, and after the Restoration commanded, with success, the English fleet against the Dutch. Although Roman Catholic, he followed Charles on the throne since all his brother’s offspring were born on the wrong side of the blanket.

His daughter Mary was raised as a Protestant. When James’ wife had a son it was feared in England that he would be raised as a Catholic and once again there would be religious strife. Virtually by invitation, William III of Orange (Holland) invaded England, landing in Devon. Although this is called The Glorious Revolution it was in fact an invasion; James’ troops opposed it, not very forcefully in England but there was ugly fighting in Ireland and Scotland.

When James fled England he pitched the Great Seal overboard with the naive belief no parliamentary bill could be authorised without it. He was the last of the autocratic sovereigns in England, but genuinely believed God had given him the right to order as he pleased.

Probably he never spent a full night at Hampton Court, but he did hold conference there.

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