Sunday, February 05, 2006

A fateful day: James II crowned

February 6, 1685 was a fateful day in the history of both England and Ireland. On that day James II, last king of the Stuart dynasty, ascended to the throne of England. James was also the last Catholic king of England, and it was that, in fact, which brought his rein to an end. James might have lived out his time as King of England if he hadn’t had a son in 1688. His siblings were Protestants, thus the Protestant nobles of England might have been willing to simply outlast his Catholic rule. But with a male heir to the crown on hand who would likely be raised a Catholic, all bet were off.

By modern standards much of what James did would be seen as attempting to end religious discrimination. But many English people saw it as infringing on their own rights. With the prospect of another generation of such rule from James’ son on tap, the British nobility decided to act. James’ sister Mary and her Dutch husband William were invited to come and take the crown from James. The “Glorious Revolution,” as it came to be known in British history, followed. James lost his throne without putting up much of a fight.

Though the followers of the Stuart claim to the throne, called Jacobites from Jacobus or Iacobus, Latin for James, would fight on, most famous in the “The ‘45” under “Bonnie” Prince Charlie, grandson of James II. But the dream died at Culloden, and none would never again sit on the English throne again.

Though many British people mark the "Glorious Revolution" as a postive turning point in their history, for the Irish it led to the disaster of the anti-Catholic Penal Laws and a descent into poverty and despair. Soon the government running Ireland would recognize "no such person as a Catholic living in Ireland," according to one English judge.

Read more about the life of the last Stuart King:

James II of England
James Francis Edward Stuart
King James II


This Friday at 7 pm the Irish Cultural Center of Phoenix, AZ will show Part 1 of the PBS video, "In Search of Ancient Ireland.” This fascinating series was first broadcast in 2002 and includes controversial ideas which will be the topic of the discussion that will follow.

The discussion that follows will be led by George O'Brien, Events Coordinator of the Irish Cultural Center and a long time student of Irish history. Please call (602) 258-0109.
1106 N. Central Ave

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