A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603-1714 by Mark Kishlansky (1996) 7 – the reign of James II

Books & Boots

Because King Charles II died in February 1685 without a son and heir – without, in fact, any legitimate children from his marriage to Catherine of Braganza – the throne passed automatically to his brother, James Duke of York, who ascended the throne as King James II.

James was a professed Roman Catholic and a zealous reformer. He wished to lift the multiple legal restrictions which had been placed on his fellow Catholics and, as a balancing gesture, to lift legal constraints on the Puritans and non-conforming Protestant sects. However, within three short years he managed to alienate almost every party and profession in the country, and especially the powerful Whig politicians.

The crisis came to a head over two big issues. First James made the error of trying seven Anglican bishops for seditious libel. To be precise, in April 1688, encouraged by the Quaker leader William Penn with whom…

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