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James The Second

"I shall find a way to do my business without you!"
James after some high-ranking bishops of the Church of England tried to get him to reinstate anti-Catholic laws.

James II of Great Britain was the brother of Charles II and succeeded him in 1685. He came to the throne with widespread public sympathy and a Royalist parliament.

He squandered it all within 3 years.

He had converted to Catholicism and was bent on returning Britain to its loyalty to Rome. The birth of his son James Edward caused a panic within government. Then seven leading statesmen had an idea...

They invited the king's Protestant son-in-law William of Orange (married James' Protestant daughter Mary) to invade England and save them from the Catholic tyrant. James fled to France where he died as a pensionary of his cousin Louis XIV.

James' scions would try to win back the throne in what became known as the Hanover-Stuart Wars to no avail. With the death of his childless grandsons Charles Edward ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") and Henry (became a Cardinal), the male Catholic Stuart line ended.

Today James gets a bad rap for his absolutist politics and lack of political finesse, not to mention centuries of extra tarnish thrown on by his Protestant enemies and 19th-century Whig historians. However, we should take pains to note that one of the proximate causes of James' overthrow was the letter of the Seven Bishops, a response to the Declaration of Indulgence, which aimed towards religious toleration for both Catholics and Protestant Dissenters (basically, total freedom of religion for Christians, which was more than you could get in most of Europe at the time). The people who brought in the Dutch in were mainstream Anglicans, many of whom wanted a return to the restrictions on civil liberties for non-Anglicans, and all of whom (correctly or incorrectly is a debate we will not have) saw James' policies of tolerance as being aimed at making England (and Scotland) officially Catholic.

Fun fact: the City and State of New York are named after him, as being the second son of the King, he was the Duke of York prior to his accession; the colony, taken from the Dutch during his brother's reign, was named after him, not the city Oop North.


Charles IIHeads Of StateRobert Walpole
James The FirstAdministrivia/Useful Notes Pages in MainJane Seymour

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