James was a Stuart king of England, Scotland and Ireland who in 1688 was overthrown in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ by William III.
Born on 14th October 1633 to Charles I and his French wife, Henrietta Maria, King James II got named after his grandparent James I and VI. He was captured in the English Civil war but managed to flee off the continent.
He emerged as an exceptional soldier and returned to England after his brother, Charles II, was restored in 1660. He was placed in charge of the Royal Navy between 1660 and 1673. Within the same year, 1660, James got engaged to Anne Hyde, daughter of Charles II’s chief minister with whom he sired two children, Mary and Anne.
He changed his religion in 1669 to Catholicism, effectively placing himself against numerous anti-Catholic activities such as the Test Act of 1673. However, his religious views did not impede his ascent to the throne in 1685.
Still in the same year, James was rebelled by Charles II’s illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth. This rebellion did not stand ground in the battle of Sedgemoor in 1685 resulting in the beheading of Monmouth.
With such a beheading as well as the King’s plans of allowing the Roman catholic and Protestant dissenters civic equality, James found himself in parallels with Parliament. The conflicts prolonged to the extent that he prorogued it and ruled individually. He made efforts to strengthen Catholicism by appointing the Catholics to academic, political and military posts. He also signed the Declaration of Indulgence in 1687 to facilitate religious tolerance. He also issued an instruction to the Anglican clergy to read it from the pulpits.
The fear of a Catholic succession was raised in 1688 when James’s second wife Mary of Modena, delivered a son, James Francis Edward. Some Protestant nobles responded by seeking the help of William of Orange, husband of James’s older, and Protestant, daughter Mary. William’s army arrived in Devon and forced James, who had been deserted by his army and navy, to flee abroad. Parliament then crowned William and Mary joint monarchs.
On his arrival in Ireland – 1689, James collaborated with the French to raise an army. However, he lost in battle to William in 1690 and consequently fled. He later on died in exile in Saint-Germain in France on 16 September 1701.