A Reflection of Autonomy and Responsibility
James II of England was the first king to succeed to the kingdoms of both England and Scotland and to be crowned King of both. He was also known as the Duke of York, the Duke of Albany, and the honorary Duke of Normandy; a title that was never to be held again by an English monarch. He was called Lord High Admiral as he commanded the English navy in the Anglo- Dutch war, which resulted in a new English city renamed for him (New York). He became King of England on February 6, 1685 and remained so until he fled to France, escaping the hatred of his countrymen and the threats of his son-in-law on December 11, 1688. He was crowned King of Scotland 11 weeks after his coronation in England on April 23, 1685 and continued ruling over Ireland, even after his deposition, until July 1, 1690 when he was defeated by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne. Despite his numerous titles and seemingly unlimited influence, his views concerning God, his unpleasant personality, and his outdated views on government would lead to the reconstruction of the English government and a removal of a second monarch, less than 100 years after the removal of Charles I. It’s an impressive resume for a not so impressive man.
James’s family life was just as spectacular. He added 27 children to the human race, seven of whom were illegitimate. With his first wife, Anne Hyde, he had eight children, with his second, Mary of Modena, he had 12, and with at least two other mistresses, including Arabellla Churchill, he had seven.
James’s childhood was full of narrow escapes and secret dwellings. He, unlike his brother, Charles II, was dour and serious, in ad...
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...Bill of Rights, a document that would create a great nation, and be the model for the base of another, guaranteed that the people of England would be autonomous and responsible for themselves. They no longer had to accept the whims of an absolutist. They would have a voice.
On December 11, 1689, in his last act as the King of England, James II fled to France with his wife and son. He threw the Great Seal, the symbol of the King of England, into the Thames River. He did this to signify that no one on earth had the power to strip him of his crown and his divine authority except himself. Even after all his dignity had been lost, James adhered to his beliefs. Ironically a fisherman caught the symbol in his net a few days later. A workingman, the lowest rung on the political ladder, now held the power, symbolically and literally. England’s people had become autonomous.
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