William Sterling

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Life and Times of James VII and II

February 16 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

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.

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.


February 16
11:00 am - 5:00 pm


City Lit


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