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James II.James II. (1633-1701) was the second son of Charles I. by Henrietta Maria of France. After being captured at Oxford during the Civil War, he escaped to France, and served in the French and Spanish armies. He was created Lord High Admiral at the Restoration, and showed some ability as a naval commander in the Dutch wars. As an avowed Romanist, he was, however, compelled to resign his office on the passing of the Test Act (1673). An attempt was also made to exclude him by Act of Parliament from the throne; but though this failed, he was sent into honourable exile, first on the Continent and then to Scotland, where he acted as Lord High Commissioner. In 1684 he was illegally restored to the office of Lord High Admiral and to his seat in the Council. On the death of Charles II. in 1685 he succeeded peaceably to the throne, when he soon openly proselytised, dismissed his Parliament, called Romanists to his councils, and revived the Court of High Commission in order to punish the clergy for preaching against his attacks on Protestantism. He also forced Romanists on some of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, obtained a decision from the judges in favour of the right of the Crown to dispense with laws, employed Romanist officers in an army he had assembled on Hounslow Heath, and finally in April, 1687, published the Declaration of Indulgence. The Nonconformists, however, refused to take the bait, and the seven bishops were supported by all sections of the nation when they refused to read it in the churches. They were then tried for libel, but triumphantly acquitted. William of Orange, who had long been in correspondence with the Whig leaders, was now invited by the leading men of all parties to protect English liberties against his father-in-law; and James Edward, the old Pretender, who was born at this time, was regarded as a supposititious child. William landed on Nov. 5, 1688; and James, when too late, rescinded his most arbitrary measures. Deserted by his army, he attempted to escape abroad, and was arrested at Faversham; but it was found convenient to allow him afterwards to effect his purpose. He was welcomed in France by Louis XIV., and with his help made an expedition to Ireland in the following year, but was defeated at the Boyne (1690). The remainder of his life was passed at St. Germains, under the protection of the French king, whose pensioner he had been even when actually ruler of England. James II. was twice married. Mary and Anne were his daughters by Anne Hyde, daughter of Lord Clarendon; the Old Pretender was the son of Mary of Modena. By his mistress Arabella Churchill, sister of Marlborough, he was father of the accomplished James, Duke of Berwick.
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