James II of England

James II Of England

James II and VII (14 October 1633O.S. – 16 September 1701) was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Members of Britain's political and religious elite increasingly opposed him for being pro-French and pro-Catholic, and for his designs on becoming an absolute monarch. When he produced a Catholic heir, the tension exploded, and leading nobles called on William III of Orange (his son-in-law and nephew) to land an invasion army from the Netherlands, which he did. James fled England (and thus was held to have abdicated) in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was replaced by William of Orange, who became king as William III, ruling jointly with his wife (James's daughter) Mary II. Thus William and Mary, both Protestants, became joint rulers in 1689. James made one serious attempt to recover his crowns, when he landed in Ireland in 1689 but, after the defeat of the Jacobite forces by the Williamite forces 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 belief in the Divine Right of Kings and his attempts to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists against the wishes of the English Parliament. However, he also continued the persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters in Scotland. Parliament, opposed to the growth of absolutism that was occurring in other European countries, as well as to the loss of legal supremacy for the Church of England, saw their opposition as a way to preserve what they regarded as traditional English liberties. This tension made James's four-year reign a struggle for supremacy between the English Parliament and the Crown, resulting in his deposition, the passage of the English Bill of Rights, and the Hanoverian succession.

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