Good Morning, we will conclude our exploration of the Stuarts with James II. James II was a Catholic king of a protestant nation which would prove to be a disaster. He was so staunch in his Catholicism, that it eroded his support amongst the people. How would the Winn family navigate the reign of this king?
King James II was Catholic for two decades. He had never expected to be King. He was the second son of King Charles I. He held the title of Duke of York. During the English Civil War, he snuck out of England dressed as a woman and into the Hague. Here he would spend the majority of his life. While Oliver Cromwell ruled England, James and his brother Charles would be in exile.
James would spend a lot of his exile in France. Here he would be exposed to the Catholic faith. He also was a soldier in the French army but when the French allied with the Commonwealth and Cromwell he moved to Spain and would become a soldier in the Spanish Army. He was so good he would be offered the rank of Admiral of the Spanish Navy.
However Cromwell, and so James declined the offer and returned to England with his brother the newly minted Charles II. He would become his brother’s closest advisor and would be the Admiral of the English Navy. Upon return to England, he and his wife Anne Hyde would become Catholics. He continued to attend Anglican services until he converted. When news broke he was going to Catholic masses forced him to come out as a Catholic. In 1671, Anne Hyde died and in 1673 he was going to marry Mary of Modena. It was also the year the Test Act was passed. This would have forced him to swear allegiance to the Anglican church. Eventually, it came out that he was Catholic and he resigned his commission as Admiral of the Navy.
Anti-Catholic sentiments rose in England and the focus turned to James. Charles II had no legitimate heirs and so James would have become King upon Charles’ death. There were plots to assassinate Charles II to put James on the throne. Charles II arranged the marriage of Mary, James’ daughter, to the Protestant William of Orange. However, this did not relieve any sentiments.
Parliament tried to pass a bill that would exclude James from becoming King and it was defeated. This caused whispers about assassinating both James and Charles. An attempt on James’ life would bring him a great deal of sympathy. This would pave the way for James II to be king. Immediately James would face a rebellion by his own nephew the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s illegitimate son. The Monmouth rebellion was crushed and then another rebellion rose up in Scotland.
This caused James II to keep a standing army and appointed Catholics to be the officers in this army. Protestant officers were fired from their jobs. Even if the officers were loyal to the King, they lost their jobs. Catholics dominated the court and a papal representative was welcomed to the court for the first time since Mary I. James II was overplaying his hand. He was behaving like an absolute monarch. His behavior was undermining his popular support. The people were comparing him to his late father King Charles I. Unlike his brother Charles II, James never learned the lessons of the English Civil War.
Things came to a head with the birth of son… What would happen to James II because of the birth of a son? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out.
Okay, this series finished on a strong note. I would show this episode to a history class.
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