James was a Stuart king of England, Scotland and Ireland who in 1688 was overthrown in the 'Glorious Revolution' by William III.
James was born on 14 October 1633 to Charles I and his French wife, Henrietta Maria and was named after his grandfather, James I and VI. During the English Civil War he was captured but fled to exile on the continent. He distinguished himself a soldier, returning to England at the Restoration of his brother, Charles II, in 1660. He commanded the Royal Navy from1660 to1673. In 1660, James married Anne Hyde, daughter of Charles II's chief minister and they had two surviving children, Mary and Anne. In 1669, James converted to Catholicism and took a stand against a number of anti-Catholic moves, including the Test Act of 1673. This did not impede his succession to the throne on Charles' death in 1685.
Later that year James faced rebellion, led by Charles II's illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth. The rebellion was easily crushed after the battle of Sedgemoor in 1685, and savage punishments were imposed by the infamous lord chief justice, Judge Jeffreys, at the 'Bloody Assizes'. Monmouth himself was messily beheaded.
This, together with James's attempts to give civic equality to Roman Catholic and Protestant dissenters, led to conflict with parliament. In 1685, James prorogued it and ruled alone. He attempted to promote Catholicism by appointing Catholics to military, political and academic posts. In 1687, he issued a Declaration of Indulgence aiming at complete religious toleration and instructed Anglican clergy to read it from their pulpits.
In June 1688, James's second wife Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward. Fearing that a Catholic succession was now assured, a group of Protestant nobles appealed to William of Orange, husband of James's older, and Protestant, daughter Mary. In November, William landed with an army in Devon. Deserted by an army and navy who he had completely alienated, James completely lost his nerve and fled abroad. In February 1689, parliament declared that James's flight constituted an abdication and William and Mary were crowned joint monarchs.
In March 1689, James landed in Ireland where, with French support, he raised an army. He was defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. James died in exile in Saint-Germain in France on 16 September 1701.