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This England

This England is the quarterly magazine for all who love our green and pleasant land and are unashamedly proud of their English roots. Published since 1968 the magazine has now become one of England’s best loved magazines and has a readership of over 115,000 people from around the world. As well as being popular in England it outsells all other British heritage magazines in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and is sent to readers in every country of the world. Published in Cheltenham, in the heart of picturesque Gloucestershire, the magazine is edited, printed and despatched direct from England. Subscribe today and celebrate all that is best about England and the English way of life.

Opinions about King

Opinions about King James II were mixed in his lifetime and have remained divided ever since. One of his friends and supporters, Thomas Bruce, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, wrote in his memoirs, “I do affirm that he was the most honest and sincere man I ever knew: a great and good Englishman, and a high protector of trade, and had nothing so much at heart as the glory and strength of the fleet and navy.” Yet the Victorian historian Henry Buckle in his History of Civilisation in England (1857) wrote, “It makes one’s flesh creep to think that such a man should have been the ruler of millions,” calling James II both “a disgrace” and “a slur on the age.” Others concur that he would have made an excellent King of France or Spain, but did not quite suit the England in which he lived. Some historians consider him to have been a very weak man, and diarist Samuel Pepys wrote of him, “The Duke of York, in all things but his amours, is led by the nose of his wife.” But overall he appears to have been a man of considerable contrasts. If an ineffectual King, he was nevertheless a brave soldier. He was married twice and had many mistresses, yet was a religious zealot. He believed firmly in the Divine Right of Kings, but too easily gave up his crown. James II was born at St. James’s Palace in London at midnight on 14th October 1633, the second surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, and the brother of Charles II. He was called Duke of York from birth, and in 1642 was made a Knight of the Garter. He later became Earl of Ulster and Duke of Normandy. Unusually, he was appointed Lord High Admiral at the age of three, which was an honorary title! He did, however, take on the role in a practical way as an adult. He was educated by private tutors but, as he grew older, it was said that he was not hugely intelligent or witty, and lacked the charm of his brother Charles. He had a fair complexion as a youth and grew to be very tall, once described as being “two yards high”. Paintings show him regally dressed and with an elaborately curled periwig as an adult. Even if depicted wearing armour, he would still be swathed with sashes and cloaks. James II (1685-1688) James’s education was curtailed by the Civil War, which came to dominate his childhood. He was with his father at the Battle of Edgehill, and was almost killed when a cannonball missed him by inches. For his own safety James was sent to live in Oxford, which was a Royalist stronghold, but following a siege there in 1646 he was moved to St. James’s Palace. Instead of being a home, however, his birthplace became a virtual prison. James managed to escape in 1648 with the help of an Irish colonel called Joseph Bampfield. He was eventually smuggled out of the country and taken to The Hague disguised as a young girl to avoid detection. By the age of 19 he had begun to serve in the French army and became a Lieutenant-General. He was given his own Regiment of York, and experienced military combat in the War of Fronde, a French civil war, receiving praise for his apparent lack of fear. He later said that being part of the French army was the happiest of times for him. Following the execution of Charles I in 1649, and with England under the control of Oliver Cromwell, James’s elder brother Charles attempted to claim the throne that was rightfully his. When Charles turned to Spain for help, the brothers were suddenly at odds. Spain was an enemy of France and James felt strongly that their loyalty should be to France. When it became known that Charles had allied himself with Spain, James was expelled from the French army. With his younger brother, Henry, James travelled to Bruges, and eventually joined the Spanish army. In a twist of fate, he then found himself fighting unwillingly against French soldiers at the Battle of Dunes, soldiers who had once been his friends. In 1659 there was a truce between France and Spain, but by this time James had developed a closer bond with the Spanish and was even offered the post of admiral in their navy. But everything was to change for the Stuarts when his brother was restored to the throne as King Charles II in 1660. James was now heir presumptive, although it seemed unlikely that he would ever inherit the throne. Charles was married and it was assumed that he would father heirs of his own to succeed. As it happened, Charles had numerous children with a variety of mistresses, but no legitimate heir. In the year that the monarchy was restored James married Anne Hyde, who was the daughter of the King’s chief minister Edward Hyde. She and James had been little more than a dalliance in the previous year, but when she revealed that she was expecting a child, the couple agreed to marry. This did not go down well with King Charles or his court. As a commoner, Anne was not considered to be a suitable bride for a royal Duke. James refused to acquiesce and married Anne secretly at Breda, Holland. Once the deed was done and there was no going back, James told his family of the ceremony. Consequently, James and Anne were given a second, 12 THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017

more public wedding, on 3rd September 1660 at Worcester House in The Strand. A son was born two months later, but died within weeks. A further five children also died in infancy, but two daughters survived: Mary, born 1662, and Anne, born 1665. Both were destined to become Queens of England. On his brother’s accession, James was given the Scottish title Duke of Albany and was eventually made Lord High Commissioner for Scotland, with Holyrood House in Edinburgh as his official residence. The office of Lord High Admiral now became an official role and he commanded the navy during subsequent wars with the Dutch. A particular success was his defeat of a Dutch fleet off the coast of Lowestoft in June 1665. He was also appointed Governor of Portsmouth and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and oversaw the refortification of the south coast of England. In 1664 Charles II gave his brother territory in America between the Delaware and Connecticut rivers. The former Dutch territory — surrendered to England without a fight — was renamed in his honour. The port of New Amsterdam became known as New York after James’s title, Duke of York. When London was hit by the Great Plague, James and Anne sought refuge in Salisbury and later Oxford in the summer of 1665 to avoid being infected. They returned to the capital once the plague had subsided, but London was soon hit by another disaster: the Great Fire of London. In September 1666 James was put in charge of bringing the fire under control. In his private life, James remained devoted to Anne until her death in 1671, although he was regularly unfaithful. James kept various mistresses including Arabella Churchill (an ancestor of Winston), with whom he fathered four children. He made no secret of the liaison and the offspring were given the surname FitzJames. Another mistress was Catherine Sedley, who he later created Countess of Dorchester. It became a family joke that James was attracted to plain women rather than great beauties, and Charles II teased his brother saying that the women were imposed upon him as a penance. Catherine Sedley worked for an Italian princess, Mary of Modena, who the widowed James married in 1673, first by proxy at the Ducal Palace in Modena on 30th September and then in person on 21st November with a wedding ceremony in Dover, Kent. The fact that James and Anne Hyde by Sir Peter Lely. Mary, the new Duchess of York, was a Roman Catholic made her unpopular in England, and on her arrival Londoners burned an effigy of the Pope in protest. James fathered 12 children with Mary, most dying in infancy or early childhood as with his first wife, although two survived into adulthood. Towards the end of Charles II’s reign, there was a republican plot to assassinate both the King and James, Duke of York, as his immediate heir because of their Roman Catholic leanings. It was known as the Rye House Plot, named after a house at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, which the brothers were supposed to pass on their way home from the Newmarket races and outside which they were to be killed. It was their good fortune to leave the races early and the plot was foiled. When it became common knowledge, there was a huge wave of public support and affection for the King and the Duke. The Rye House Plot was instigated by the Earl of Essex, who committed suicide, and Charles II’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, who fled abroad for his own safety. James’s second wife: Mary of Modena. When Charles II died on 6th February 1685, James came to the throne as James II of England and Ireland, and also James VII of Scotland. He was privately crowned at Whitehall Palace with Catholic rites on 22nd April, and the following day, St. George’s Day, with full ceremony at Westminster Abbey, along with his wife, Mary, although they refused the Anglican sacrament. It was a time of rejoicing for the people of England and there was no opposition from Parliament at the start of the reign. When Members assembled in May 1685, they became known as the “Loyal Parliament”. Nearly all officers kept their positions and the new King forgave those who had opposed him in the past and had wanted him removed from the line of succession, and so it was a smooth transition. Parliament also granted the King a very generous financial settlement with a Revenue Bill that assured him an income for life. Although the reign had begun smoothly, it was not long before trouble started brewing and James faced rebellions in both England and Scotland. The most serious was led by his nephew the Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II by his mistress Lucy Walters. Monmouth felt that, as Charles’s son, he should have been the next monarch. He firmly believed that, because he was a Protestant, the whole of England would support him. He landed at Lyme Regis on 11th June and was proclaimed King by his supporters at Taunton in Somerset. Monmouth stayed at the George Inn at Norton St. Philip, which became his headquarters while planning his rebellion. The inn still exists and is one of England’s oldest taverns, having first been granted a licence to sell alcohol in 1397. THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 13

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