James II was born on the 14th October 1633 at St.James Palace to parents Charles I and Henrietta. He grew up in exile, first in Holland then in France, and served in the French and Spanish forces.
Following Cromwell’s death, and the restoration on the monarchy, when his brother had taken his rightful place as King of England, James returned to England, and was appointed by his brother; King Charles II as Lord High Admiral, and commanded the Royal Navy during the Anglo-Dutch conflict.
In 1660 James married Anne Hyde, she was not of Royal Blood, a commoner, the daughter of the King’s chief minister; Edward Hyde. She bore him only two children, who survived infancy; Mary who became Queen Mary II and Anne, who became Queen Anne.
In 1670, James converted to Catholicism.
His first wife, Anne died in 1671, and he married Mary of Modena, a fifteen-year-old Italian Catholic princess. She bore him two children who survived infancy; James and Louise Maria.
In 1673, Parliament not wanting a Catholic successor to the English throne passed the “Test Act” which excluded Catholics from political office.
In 1679, an Exclusion Bill was introduced into Parliament, adding James II, as a practising Catholic, to those excluded from holding political office… Parliament did not want a Catholic King.
Parliament put forward, that James Scott the Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of King Charles II, should be next in line to the throne instead of James, Charles II replied by dissolving Parliament.
King Charles II died on the 6th February 1685, and James ascended to the English throne, and crowned King James II of England on the 23rd April at Westminster Abbey.
Within months of being crowned King, James faced rebellions; The Earl of Argyll, in Scotland and the Duke of Monmouth at the “Battle of Sedgemoor.” Argyll was executed for his part, and in 1686, Monmouth along with many of his rebels were hanged.
In 1688, James believed in his “Divine Right as King” and believed he had absolute power over his kingdom. He issued the “Declaration of Indulgence,” thus suspending all laws against Catholic’s and repealed the “Test Act.” He went further still, by promoting Catholic supporters within Parliament.
His daughter Mary married William of Orange of the Netherlands. William of Orange, son-in-law to James II was invited to England by leading statesman to restore English liberties; Protestantism and Democracy.
William of Orange landed at Torbay on the 5th November 1688, in 463 ships with no opposition from the English Royal Navy. His army of 14,000 men grew to 20,000 men by the time they reached London.
Anne, the daughter of King James II, defected to William of Orange.
James tossed the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames… he had abdicated his position as England’s King, and went into exile in France.
King William III and Queen Mary II, the daughter of James II were crowned King and Queen of England in 1689.
James attempted to regain his throne, landing in Ireland, but was defeated at the “Battle of Boyne,” in 1690.
James II lived the rest of his life in exile, until he died on the 6th September 1701, at St.Germain-en-laye in France, and buried at the Chateau de Saint Germain-en-laye.