KING JAMES II
Anne Hyde, Duchess Of York
James married twice. He was first married to Anne Hyde, daughter of
the Duke of Clarendon, and then to Italian
Mary of Modena. While his marriage with Anne was a love-match, a marriage
that he went to great lengths to secure, like his brother he kept a number
of mistresses. Unlike his brother, however, he had a number of legitimate
children. By Anne he had eight children (four sons, four daughters) and
by Mary he had seven children (two sons, five daughters). Of the eight
children he had with Anne, only two survived to adulthood: the two future
queens, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne. As James had no legitimate
male heir when he became King, his daughter Mary (married to her cousin,
William of Orange) was next in line to the throne. The promise of a Protestant
succession made a Roman Catholic monarch tolerable, but in 1688 James's
wife gave birth to a son: James Francis Edward.
The birth of a male heir was fatal to James's sovereignty. In what is known as The Glorious Revolution of 1688, James II was deposed by his nephew and son-in-law, William of Orange. Not only did William have a claim to the throne as a grandson of Charles I, but as Mary's husband. William and Mary were recognised as joint-rulers by Parliament, and James was once again forced into exile. He tried to reclaim the throne at the Battle of the Boyne (1690) in Ireland, but was heavily defeated. He returned to France and died there in 1701.
As James's legitimate son, James Francis Edward believed that he was now the rightful King of England, but he never achieved the crown. As he claimed to be the rightful King, he became known as The Old Pretender. His son, Charles, who also asserted his right to the crown, became known as The Young Pretender. But when Queen Anne died without an heir in 1714, the crown passed to George Hanover, great-grandson of James I.
While James II is one of England's least known kings, being in death as he was in life overshadowed by his elder brother, Charles II, his life was just as dramatic as some of England's more famous monarchs.