William Sterling

James VII and II

Life and times of James VII & II

Although his reign was one of the shortest in Britain James had a distinguished career before becoming king and an intriguing one in exile.  A Catholic convert he was doomed to fail in Protestant Britain.  This course was run at the City Lit on Saturday 10th March 2018.

James was the second son of Charles I so not expected to be king until later in life when it became clear his brother Charles II would die without a legitimate child. James was brought up at his parents’ court in an atmosphere that led to civil war and was captured when Oxford fell in 1646. He made a daring escape to Holland aged 15. In France he served in the army under Turenne and later fought against the French for the Spanish. After the restoration James was given several important roles by his brother including Lord High Admiral. Controversially he married his mistress, the commoner, Anne Hyde and they secretly converted to Catholicism. Their daughters were brought up as Protestants but after Anne’s death James’s conversion became known and he married another Catholic, the Italian Mary of Modena. On Charles’s death James succeeded. The music for his coronation including works by Purcell is the first to be fully documented. James tried to bring in religious toleration against the wishes of his ministers. When the queen had a son who would be brought up as a Catholic many people decided to invite James’s son-in-law the Protestant William of Orange to oust him. In exile again he encouraged his supporters to try and restore him and led an army in Ireland personally. Although he failed he had an influential court in France where he was supported by Louis XIV who recognised his son as the rightful King when James died in 1701 at the age of 68.

These are the handouts from the day

handout burlesque on the Popish Plot

handout Mary and her confessor Edward Petre

handout Test Act

handout Monmouth’s declaration against James

handout third Dutch War

handout coronation of James and Mary

handout second Dutch War

handout birth of prince James

handout act of attainder

The following is a timeline of James’s life


The following family trees show James’s parents and siblings then his children by each wife


handout family of James and Anne

handout family of James and Mary

This is a list of music from his coronation

Music for the Coronation of James II and Mary of Modena

These are the slides from the day in printable format

James II and VII slides in printable format

James and wives in printable format

These podcasts from Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time may be of interest

Titus Oates and the Popish Plot

The Glorious Revolution