James II (England)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
King James II of England JamesIISig.svg

James II of England ( English James II ; born October 14, 1633 in St James's Palace in London , † September 16, 1701 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye ), also James VII of Scotland , was born on April 23, 1685 crowned King of England , King of Scotland and King of Ireland . He succeeded his brother Charles II , whom he had previously served as Lord High Admiral and Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy and Lord High Commissioner of Scotland.

The prince, who had grown up in exile in France, had converted to Catholicism as early as 1668/69 , which promptly sparked resistance to his right to the successor to his childless brother, which initially had no consequences because a further successor was to be expected from his Protestant daughters. In 1688, however, a son was born to him in his second Catholic marriage. Shortly afterwards he was deposed as a result of his pro-Catholic and absolutist politics by the Glorious Revolution and by his daughter Maria and her husband Wilhelm III. replaced by Orange .

historical overview

He was the last Catholic monarch to rule over the Anglican and Presbyterian kingdoms of England and Scotland. A large part of the population, especially the nobility, mistrusted his Catholic personnel policy and accused him of wanting to restore Britain to Catholicism and establish an absolutist form of rule like in France. This led his opponents to depose him in the Glorious Revolution in 1688. He was not succeeded by his son James Francis Edward from the second, Catholic marriage, who was entitled to the throne , but Jacob's Protestant daughter Maria II. From the first marriage, together with her consort William of Orange , the governor of the Netherlands, who was named William III. was called to the throne.

James II tried several times with the help of Louis XIV of France to return to the throne: From exile in France, he drove to Catholic Ireland in 1689/90, where he was able to rule again for a little over a year until he was at the Battle of the Boyne was defeated by his son-in-law and fled back to France. In 1696 a murder plot against Wilhelm III failed.

The son James Francis Edward Stuart ( the Old Pretender ) and the grandson Charles Edward Stuart ( the Young Pretender ) tried to get military support from various European states, but failed with their Jacobite revolts in the years 1715, 1719 and 1745. As early as 1690 their followers were called Jacobites .

Early years

King Charles I and the young Jacob II (1647), painting by Sir Peter Lely

Jacob was born on October 14, 1633 at St James's Palace in London. He was the third son of King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Queen Henrietta Marias , daughter of Henry IV of France. Since the first-born had died on the day of his birth in 1629, he was second in line to the throne after his brother, later King Charles II . In 1644 he was given the title of Duke of York.

During the English Civil War he stayed in the monarchist stronghold of Oxford while the father fought the forces of the House of Commons and the Puritans . When the city surrendered in 1646, Jacob was placed under arrest at St James's Palace by order of Parliament , and his older brother fled to France. In 1648, with the support of the writer Anne Halkett , Jakob was able to escape from the palace and flee to The Hague in disguise . When King Charles I was executed by the opponents in 1649, the monarchists proclaimed Jacob's brother Charles II as the new king, who was recognized by Scotland and Ireland's parliaments. Returned to Scotland in 1650, he was crowned at Scone the following year . At that time he could not achieve the crown of England. In 1651 he was defeated by English invading troops at the Battle of Worcester and fled back to France.

Jacob also sought refuge in France. He served in the French army under Marshal Turenne . When brother Karl made an alliance with Spain , an opponent of France, in 1656 , he joined the Spanish army, where he served under Ludwig II of Bourbon, Prince of Condé . Both Turenne and Condé praised the Duke of York for his military skills.

Lady Anne Hyde and Jacob

After the death of Oliver Cromwell and the resignation of his son Richard Cromwell , Parliament called the brother Karl back to England to end the political turmoil, where he ascended the throne as Charles II on May 29, 1660. Jacob returned at his brother's side. Although he was first in line to the throne, it seemed unlikely that he would actually succeed it. King Charles II was still young and unmarried, although he was the father of several illegitimate children.

Jakob had secretly married Lady Anne Hyde , daughter of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon , head of the government-in-exile of Charles II, on November 24, 1659 in Breda, the Netherlands . On September 3, 1660, the wedding was repeated in London in an official ceremony . The Duchess of York gave birth to her first child the following month.

Jacob, Duke of York, was appointed Lord High Admiral and was Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy during the second (1665–1667) and third Anglo-Dutch naval wars (1672–1674). His Secretary of State at the Naval Office, Samuel Pepys , described this time in his famous diary. After the English conquered the Nieuw Nederland area in North America in 1664 , the city of Nieuw Amsterdam was renamed New York in his honor . The 150 miles upstream on the Hudson River lies Fort Oranje was by the Duke of Albany , his second title in Albany renamed. Jacob was also at the Transatlantic Slave Trade participating Royal African Company before.

Religious conflicts

Jacob converted to the Catholic Church in 1668 or 1669 . With the passing of the test act , his Protestant opponents in parliament, led by Anthony Ashley Cooper, were able to ensure that all civil and military civil servants had to take an oath that was incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church. They were also required to receive communion according to the rite of the Church of England . The Duke of York refused to take the oath and receive communion and renounced his post as Lord High Admiral.

Princess Maria Beatrix of Modena

King Charles II opposed his brother's change of denomination and demanded that the duke's children be raised as Protestants. Despite all this, he allowed his brother, who had become a widower in 1671, to marry the Catholic Princess Maria of Modena in 1673 . Some English distrusted the new Duchess of York and viewed her as an agent of the Pope .

In 1677, the Duke of York tried to appease the Protestants by allowing his daughter Maria to become the Protestant governor of the Netherlands , Prince William III. of Orange to marry. This was also his nephew. Despite the concessions, the fear of a future Catholic monarch persisted. It was compounded by the failed pregnancies of his brother's wife, Queen Catherine . The priest Titus Oates, expelled from the Anglican Church, fueled displeasure by preaching of a papal plot to kill Charles II, allegedly aimed at putting the Duke of York on the throne. This fictitious rumor caused a wave of anti-Catholic hysteria to spill over the nation. The Duke of York made foresight to leave England and go to Brussels . In 1680 he was appointed Lord High Commissioner of Scotland and moved to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh .

In England, Lord Shaftesbury and others attempted to exclude the Duke of York from the line of succession. Some even suggested that the crown should go to Charles II's illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth . When the Exclusion Bill was about to be passed in 1679 , King Charles II dissolved parliament. The Exclusion Bill also helped shape the English two-party system. The Whigs supported the law while the Tories opposed it. Two other parliaments were elected in 1680 and 1681, but were dissolved again for the same reason.

After the dissolution of parliament in 1681, no new parliament was convened. Charles II was very popular at the time and in 1682 he was able to allow the Duke of York to return to England. In 1683, a Protestant conspiracy ( Rye House Plot ) to murder the king and his brother failed miserably. Instead, the two grew in popularity.

King of England, Scotland and Ireland

Charles II died in 1685 without legitimate descendants and converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed, which suggests that he had officially adhered to the Anglican faith only for reasons of state reasons. His brother succeeded him on the throne and ruled England and Ireland as James II and in Scotland as James VII. He was crowned on April 23, 1685 at Westminster Abbey . At first there was little open opposition to the new ruler. Many Conservative Anglicans even supported him. The new parliament, which met in May 1685, seemed to him well-disposed and provided him with a large income.

royal coat of
arms of Jacob II

However, King James II had to deal with the Monmouth Rebellion of Charles II's illegitimate son, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth , who had declared himself king on June 20, 1685. The rebellion ended with the rebels' defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor and the subsequent execution of James Scott in the Tower of London . Although the Duke of Monmouth had enjoyed no public support, Jacob soon began to distrust his subjects. Its judges severely punished the rebels. George Jeffreys , who was soon called the hanging judge , was particularly notorious . This crackdown led to the fact that a short time later the public thought their king was barbaric and cruel. To protect himself from further rebellions, Jacob tried to build a large standing army. Since he used Catholics as leaders of several regiments, the king came into conflict with parliament. Parliament was adjourned in November 1685 and was never to meet again during Jacob's reign.

Religious tensions increased in 1686. In a court case, several judges were forced to deliver a verdict that allowed the king to suspend the religious restrictions on the test acts. This enabled him to put his fellow believers at the top of the highest offices in the kingdom. He received the nuncio Ferdinando D'Adda at court as the first papal ambassador to the court since the time of Queen Maria I. Jacob's confessor, the Jesuit Edward Petre, was also the object of Protestant anger. These political choices resulted in King Jacob losing the support of his former allies.

Jacob then ordered the suspension of Henry Compton , the anti-Catholic bishop of London . More Anglicans were dismissed from their political offices. With the Declaration of Indulgence in 1687, he suspended laws that discriminated against or punished Catholics, but also religious deviants on the Protestant side. In the same year, Jakob dissolved parliament and carried out further reforms to reduce the power of the nobility. In order to keep the most influential Scottish nobles weighed, among whom the House of Stuart enjoyed more sympathy than in England, he founded the Order of Thistles in 1687 .

The king also aroused opposition through his policy towards the University of Oxford . He alienated the Anglicans by giving Catholics important posts in two of the most important colleges, Christ Church College and University College . To the great displeasure of many, he also dismissed the Protestant professors of Magdalen College and replaced them entirely with Catholics.

Glorious Revolution and Deposition

In April 1688, Jacob reissued the Forbearance Declaration and shortly thereafter ordered the Anglican clergy to read it in their churches. When the Archbishop of Canterbury , William Sancroft , and six other bishops petitioned him asking him to reconsider his religious policy, they were arrested and tried for seditious libel. However, the trial ended in acquittals. Public concern increased when Queen Mary gave birth to a son and heir, James Francis Edward , in June 1688 . A Catholic succession to the throne was in prospect. Several influential Protestants, who saw themselves threatened by a Catholic dynasty, entered into negotiations with William III. from Orange , who was the son-in-law of King Jacob. William III. was considered a champion for the Protestant cause because he had fought against the Catholic King of France, Louis XIV.

Statue of Wilhelm III. in the port of Brixham , where he landed on November 5, 1688 with his Dutch army in the course of the Glorious Revolution in England

On June 30, 1688, the same day that the bishops were acquitted, a group of Protestant nobles demanded Wilhelm III. from Orange to cross over to England with an army. Already in September it became apparent that Wilhelm III. planned an invasion. Even so, King Jacob refused the aid of Louis XIV of France, fearing that the English would refuse French intervention. Jacob also mistakenly believed that his army was up to the confrontation. But when the Prince of Orange docked in England on November 5, 1688, Jacob was abandoned by all of his Protestant officers. His own daughter Anne joined the invasion force, which deeply hurt the king. On December 11th, Jacob tried to flee England, initially throwing the Great Seal of the Kingdom into the Thames . He was captured in Kent . William III. of Orange did not intend to martyr Jacob and let him escape on December 23rd. Jacob was received in France by King Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a generous pension.

When Jacob left his kingdom there was no sitting parliament. A parliament could normally only be convened by the ruling monarch. Since he had left the country in a hurry, William of Orange called a parliament, which was called the Convention Parliament, following the parliament that Charles II had recalled to the throne in 1660 . Parliament declared on February 12, 1689 that Jacob's attempt to flee on December 11 represented an abdication by the government and that the throne had become vacant as a result. The crown was not passed to the son of Jacob II, James Francis Edward, instead Jacob's daughter Maria was declared queen. She should be together with her husband Wilhelm III. rule of Orange. The Scottish Parliament followed suit on April 11 of the same year.

William III. and Mary II subsequently approved a law known as the Bill of Rights . The law confirmed the earlier Declaration of Rights , the declaration of rights in which the convention parliament interpreted Jacob's flight as an abdication and made William and Mary king and queen. The Bill of Rights also accused James II of abuse of power. Among other things, she criticized the suspension of the test acts , the prosecution of the seven bishops just because they had submitted a petition, the establishment of a standing army and the imposition of cruel punishments. The law also clarified the question of succession. The next in line to the throne were to be the children of Wilhelm and Maria, if they had any. The next rank in the line of succession should be taken by Princess Anne and her children, and then the children of Wilhelm from a possible further marriage.

Later years

Embarkation of Jacob (1689) with the French fleet from Brest to Ireland

With the French army on his side, to whose support he coined the gunmoney , Jakob landed in Ireland in March 1689. The Irish Parliament had not followed the example of the English and decided that Jacob was still king. However, he was defeated on July 1, 1690 (July 12 according to the Gregorian calendar) in the Battle of the Boyne . He fled to France from Kinsale . His personal cowardice cost him a large part of his support and earned him the inglorious nickname 'James the be-shitten' in Ireland.

In France, Jakob was allowed to live in the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye . In 1696 an attempt was made to him with the help of a murder plot against Wilhelm III. to be brought back to the throne. The attempted murder failed. In the same year, Jacob turned down Louis XIV's offer to have him elected King of Poland because he feared that acceptance of the Polish crown would make him incompatible with the Crown of England in the eyes of his compatriots in England. After that, Louis XIV offered Jacob no further help. This decision was made in 1697 by the Peace of Rijswijk with William III. codified. During his last years Jacob lived as a severe penitent. He died of a stroke in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1701 , where he was buried.


Jacob's younger daughter Anne ascended the throne when Wilhelm III. 1702 died. Maria II died in 1694. The Act of Settlement of 1701 determined that the succession to the throne enshrined in the Bill of Rights should pass to a distant German cousin, Sophie von der Pfalz , and her Protestant descendants, if the ruling lineage should die out. When Queen Anne died in 1714, shortly after Sophie, the crown went to Sophie's son Georg I , the Elector of Braunschweig-Lüneburg , and thus to the House of Hanover .

The son of Jacob II, James Francis Edward Stuart , took on the Jacobite cause . He was by his followers James III. and VIII. and called by his opponents the "old heir to the throne". He led a rebellion in Scotland shortly after George I ascended to the throne, but was defeated. Other riots were also put down. No serious attempts have been made to bring the Stuarts back to the throne since the failed uprising of 1745. However, there are still individuals who are part of the Jacobite cause.

James Francis Edward died in 1766 and was succeeded by his son Charles Edward Stuart . Charles Edward was followed by his younger brother Henry Benedict Stuart , who was Cardinal Bishop of Frascati . Henry Benedict was the last legitimate descendant of Jacob II. When he died in 1807, the Jacobite claim to the most direct descendant of Charles I, King Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia , a grandson of Jacob II's youngest sister Henriette . The current dynastic heir to the Jacobite claim is, through multiple female succession, Duke Franz of Bavaria . Although the latter does not claim the throne, the Jacobites call him Francis II.


Lady Anne Hyde (around 1662), painting by Sir Peter Lely

On November 24, 1659, Jakob married Lady Anne Hyde , with whom he had the following eight children:

  • Charles (October 22, 1660 - May 5, 1661)
  • Maria II. (* 1662; † 1694) ∞ King Wilhelm III.
  • James (July 12, 1663 - June 20, 1667)
  • Anne (* 1665; † 1714) ∞ Prince George of Denmark
  • Charles (July 4, 1666 - May 22, 1667)
  • Edgar (14 September 1667 - 8 June 1671)
  • Henrietta (born January 13, 1669 - † November 15, 1669)
  • Catherine (February 9, 1671 - December 5, 1671)
Princess Maria Beatrix of Modena (1680), portrait by Willem Wissing

In his second marriage on November 21, 1673, he married Princess Maria Beatrix of Modena , daughter of Alfonso IV d'Este , with whom he had the following seven children:

  • Catherine Laura (January 10, 1675 - October 3, 1675)
  • Isabella (August 18, 1676 - March 2, 1681)
  • Charles (7 November 1677 - 12 December 1677)
  • Elizabeth (* 1678; † 1678)
  • Charlotte Maria (born August 16, 1682 - † October 6, 1682)
  • James Francis Edward , called the Old Pretender (* 1688; † 1766)
  • Louisa Maria Theresa (* 1692; † 1712)

He was also the father of the illegitimate children

  • with Lady Catherine Sedley :
    • Catherine Darnley (* 1680; † 1743)
    • James Darnley (* 1684; † 1685)
    • Charles Darnley (* 1686; † 1687)


Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
Maria Stuart
Friedrich II. Denmark and Norway
Sophie of Mecklenburg
Antoine de Bourbon
Jeanne d'Albret
Francesco de 'Medici
Johanna of Austria
Jacob VI of Scotland
Anna of Denmark
Henry IV of France
Maria de 'Medici
Charles I.
Henrietta Maria of France

See also


  • John Childs : The army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution . Manchester University Press, Manchester 1980, ISBN 0-7190-0688-0 .
  • James S. Clarke (Ed.): The Life of James II. Longman Hurst, London 1816 (2 volumes)
  • Alessandro Cont: Corte britannica e Stati italiani. Rapporti politici, diplomatici e culturali (1685–1688). ( Biblioteca della Nuova Rivista Storica , 55), Società Editrice Dante Alighieri, Rome 2019, ISBN 978-88-534-3436-4 , ISSN  0469-2462 ( academia.edu ).
  • Richard B. Davis (Ed.): William Fitzhugh and His Chesapeake World, 1676-1701 . The Virginia Historical Society by University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC 1963
  • Peter Earle: The life and times of James II. Weidenfels & Nicolson, London 1972
  • John Miller: James II . 3rd. ed. Yale University Press, New Haven CT 2000, ISBN 0-300-08728-4 .
  • Meriol Trevor: The shadow of a crown. The life story of James II. Of England and VII. Of Scotland . Constable, London 1988, ISBN 0-09-467850-2
  • Francis C. Turner: James II. Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1950
  • James II of Great Britain and Ireland . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 15 : Italy - Kyshtym . London 1911, p. 138 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).

Web links

Commons : James II (England)  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Charles I. Duke of York
Title merged with the crown
Charles II King of England
King of Scotland
King of Ireland
Wilhelm III./II./I. and Maria II.
- Jacobite pretender to the throne
Jacob III./VIII.