Author: Robert M. Bliss

associate professor and dean of Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri—St. Louis.

James II (1633–1701)

James II was king of England, Ireland, and—as James VII—Scotland from 1685 to 1688. He was the second son of Charles I, who was tried by Parliament and executed after the English Civil Wars (1642–1648). James spent much of his youth in exile in France and Spain; he returned to London in 1660 when his older brother was restored to the throne as Charles II. James maintained an active role in his brother’s court and, as lord high admiral, administered the Royal Navy. In 1668 or 1669 James converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, a decision that would alter the course of his political life. His relations with Parliament, the Church of England, and the political nation soured soon after he took the throne in 1685. He was deposed in the so-called Glorious Revolution (1688–1689) led by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband and cousin, William III of Orange, who would rule in James’s stead as Mary II and William III. James II spent his later years in exile, again in France, leaving once to attempt, unsuccessfully, an invasion of Ireland in 1689–1690. He died in 1701 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the court-in-exile, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.