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The Reign of James VII and II and the ‘Glorious Revolution’

Charles II died on 6 February 1685 and, as he had no legitimate children, the crown passed to his younger brother who became James VII and II. James's conversion to Catholicism when Duke of York led to numerous Protestant attempts to exclude him from the succession.

James sought to reassure his subjects by emphasising continuity with the reign of his brother but his appointment of Catholics to prominent positions and his increasing totalitarian rule caused growing unease.

Protestant fears were realised in June 1688 when James's queen gave birth to a male Catholic heir. William of Orange, husband of James's Protestant daughter Mary, was invited to invade Britain and take the throne. William assembled an invasion force and landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688.

James and his family departed London and entered a life of exile in France. In what became known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’, on 13 February 1689 William and Mary were declared joint monarchs. James VII and II's son, James Francis Edward, and grandson, Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie), both continued to pursue the claim to the throne of Britain and, with aid from their Jacobite supporters, launched their ultimately unsuccessful attempts from Scotland.

Arnold van Westerhout (1651-1725)

James II

John Smith (1653-1742) after Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723)

Prince James Francis Edward Stuart

Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708); published by Carel Allard (1648–1709)

William III and Mary II

Etienne du Mirail de Monnot (d. 1735), after James II (1633-1701)

For my son the Prince of Wales