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James II and the First Modern Revolution (Hardback)

The End of Absolute Monarchy

British History P&S History 17th Century Royal History

By John Van der Kiste
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399001403
Published: 18th October 2021

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In February 1685, James II succeeded his brother Charles II on the English throne. His popularity had soared and fallen during his brother’s reign. During a period of less than forty years that had seen the execution of their father, Charles I, the proclamation of a republic, and restoration of the monarchy a few years later, nothing could be taken for granted, but the omens for a reign of stability seemed good.

However, James was a deeply flawed character who lacked his brother’s pragmatism. Obstinate, arrogant, alternately pious and debauched, he was little liked by most of those who knew him well. Within three years, his efforts to promote and advance Catholicism in a nation that had predominantly embraced the Protestant faith had alienated and exhausted the patience of his subjects, the aristocracy and the church, who jointly appealed to William, Prince of Orange, his nephew and son-in-law, to intervene and protect English liberties. James fled his kingdom, and the ‘Glorious Revolution’, was swiftly achieved largely without bloodshed.

This book examines how the forces of Anglicanism and Jacobitism collided, how a monarch came to forfeit so much goodwill so quickly, and through his own folly aided the effortless victory of the man and his wife, William and Mary (James’s own daughter), who replaced him on the throne and at last brought a period of calm to a country that had only recently endured civil war and years of upheaval.

A book about an underrepresented King of England, mainly because of his short reign as king of 3 years and the fact that he was Catholic in a majority Protestant country. The people of Britain could see how bad things were for Protestants in France and were in no mood for a Catholic king and the chance that french feelings might move across the channel and be replicated here as in France. James II also didn’t help himself in that he was so stubborn and had previously fought for the Spanish on the Catholic side, it meant that any attempts he tried to introduce any type of Catholic laws or ways were doomed to failure. This has been really good book to read, quite concise and detailed but a good and informative read through some good chapters. I would recommend this book to others and have enjoyed the writing of the author John Van Der Kiste.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

About John Van der Kiste

John Van der Kiste was born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. A former library assistant, he has published over seventy books, including historical and royal biographies covering the Stuart, Georgian and Victorian eras, and European dynasties, including Queen Victoria’s ChildrenKaiser Wilhelm IIEmperor Francis JosephKings of the HellenesCrowns in a Changing World; titles on contemporary rock music, including biographies of Jeff Lynne and ELO, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Steve Winwood, Steeleye Span and Lindisfarne; local history, true crime, fiction and plays. He has reviewed books and records for national, local and independent publications, contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Guinness Rockopaedia, and was co-consultant for the BBC TV documentary The Kingthe Kaiser and the Tsar. He lives in Devon and his recreations include reading, music and painting.

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