King James Ii: A Reflection Of Autonomy And Responsibility

2058 words - 9 pages

King James II of England and the Glorious Revolution

A Reflection of Autonomy and Responsibility
James II of England was the first king to succeed to the kingdoms of both England and Scotland and to be crowned King of both. He was also known as the Duke of York, the Duke of Albany, and the honorary Duke of Normandy; a title that was never to be held again by an English monarch. He was called Lord High Admiral as he commanded the English navy in the Anglo- Dutch war, which resulted in a new English city renamed for him (New York). He became King of England on February 6, 1685 and remained so until he fled to France, escaping the hatred of his countrymen and the threats of his son-in-law ...view middle of the document...

From October 14, 1633, the day of his birth, until September 16, 1701, the day of his death, James II was determined to be heard, and obeyed, whether the English public agreed with him or not.1

An interesting and world-altering event was predestined to stand in the way of James’s goals. The Glorious Revolution, one of the best examples of a country’s determination to create a nation of more responsible people and an autonomous government, would shake the world while James attempted to stand atop it. The question remains, why did this happen, and why did it happen to James II? The blame easily falls on Catholicism. Most historians, and students of the subject, hope to prove that James II’s faith in the Catholic religion directly led to the decision made by the people of England to overthrow the monarchy and create a more autonomous nation. A Catholic king ruling over a viciously Protestant nation; this has to be the cause of a revolution, or does it?

The problem that developed over the two religions is blatantly obvious. Not only had England, as a nation, developed a non-tolerance policy towards Catholics in all of public life, but the turbulent issue remained beneath the calm surface for years. For example, as the time approached when the need for recognizing an heir to James II’s rule was essential, controversy gripped the nation. The royal family surprised them with news of what, "the Catholics thought of as a miracle, and what the Whigs called an imposture. It was neither."2 This news concerned the birth of James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales. This innocent boy would bring down a royal family. Once a legitimate Catholic heir was determined, the Protestant nation realized where their futures lie. No one wanted a Catholic king and they knew they would have to do something to prevent such a travesty. The existence of a problem over religion is obvious.

James’s religious preference was never hidden. In fact, he pushed Catholics into center stage throughout his short reign. James began to substitute a Catholic base for the nation at the beginning of his reign, just after he thought the panic fear of popery had relinquished. James continued Charles II’s remodeling of the municipal corporations in all his kingdoms with a determined zeal. He made sure that no difference in religion could disqualify a successor, opened all public offices to Catholics, and forbade any molestation’s of the people of his religion. He eventually passed the Declaration of Indulgence in 1687, which promoted Catholics even more. His confidence in his religion and in his decisions was extended again when he ordered the Protestant churchmen to read his Declaration from their pulpits. Religion was a hot issue in England in the 17th century.3

"Yet, it is doubtful that religion alone precipitated the Revolution of 1688."4 Every thing that James II was, every thing that he did, every thing that he stood for was distasteful to the English public. James II’s belief...

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