Who Were James I and James II?
James I (1566-1625), was King of England and Ireland (1603-1625) and, as James VI, King of Scotland (1567-1625). He succeeded to the Scottish throne on the abdication of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, and to the English throne on the death of Elizabeth I. A notable achievement of his reign was the publication of the Authorised King James’s Version of the bible (1611) which was to become the standard text for more than 250 years.
But he disappointed the Puritans who hoped he would introduce some of the more radical religious ideas of the Scottish church, and the Catholics, who anticipated more lenient treatment. In 1605, a Catholic plot to blow up king and parliament was uncovered. James’s firm belief in the divine right of kings, and constant need for money, also brought him into conflict repeatedly with parliament.
Abroad, James attempted to encourage European peace. In 1604, he ended the long-running war with Spain and tried to arrange a marriage between his son and the Spanish Infanta. He married his daughter Elizabeth to the elector of the palatinate, Frederick, who was the leader of the German Protestants. James’s eldest son Henry died in 1612 and his wife Anne in 1619. James himself died on 27 March 1625 and was succeeded by his second son, Charles.
James II (1633-1701), was a Stuart King of England, Scotland and Ireland (1685-1688). He ascended the throne on the death of his brother, Charles II, after the failure of attempts to exclude him from the succession because of his Roman Catholicism. Having crushed the Monmouth rebellion, he ruled in an arbitrary manner and attempted to appoint Roman Catholics to high offices.
The growing opposition to his rule led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and he was overthrown by William III. James fled the country and was succeeded by his second wife Mary of Modena, who gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward. Fearing that a Catholic succession was now assured, a group of Protestant nobles appealed to William of Orange, husband of James’s older, and Protestant, daughter Mary.
In November, William landed with an army in Devon. Deserted by an army and navy who he had completely alienated, James completely lost his nerve and fled abroad. In February 1689, parliament declared that James’s flight constituted an abdication and William and Mary were crowned joint monarchs. In March 1689, James landed in Ireland where, with French support, he raised an army. He was defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. James died in exile in Saint-Germain in France on 16 September 1701.