King James II

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On May 29, 1660, King Charles II arrived in London amongst a sense of euphoria and great fanfare. The monarch, recently arrived from exile on the European continent, seemed to air a sense that the troubles of the past were behind England, and the nation was poised to enter a new period with a Stuart monarch at its helm. Unfortunately, the newly arrived King produced no legitimate heirs during his reign, and the monarchy fell to his younger brother upon his death. After the death of King Charles II, King James II ascended the throne of England. While James II was the legitimate heir to the throne, his personality differences between himself and King Charles II and his policy differences forced England to endure yet another period of political upheaval. In truth, the restoration experienced by King Charles II collapsed twenty eight years later in 1688 forcing King James II to lose the crown and seek asylum on the European continent in the process.
While this collapse of the restoration has many causes, arguably, King James’s personality played one of the most prominent reasons. During King Charles’s reign, the “Merry Monarch” had created a royal court rife with scandalous behavior and never ending avarice. On the contrary, King James II had been a soldier all his life, and as his life progressed, his Catholic piety increased proportionally. Thus, when King James II assumed the throne he had no desire to continue the lifestyle experienced at his brother’s court. James, above all else, prized order, hierarchy, piety, and discipline. As a result, he removed from the royal court “all men and women of pleasure including his own mistress, Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester” This had the effect of making the royal court much mo...

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...ul alienation of prominent politicians. Conversely, King Charles II produced no legitimate offspring, and even if he had produced a legitimate heir, King Charles II was a Protestant, at least up until his deathbed when he converted to Catholicism. That being said, his brother was everything that Charles was not, and after a reign of only three years England once again faced a political crisis and a monarch in exile, the often cantankerous King James II.

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