James II lost his throne in 1688. He did try to fight for it in 1689, but was defeated at the Battle of Boyne due to lack of support and outnumberment. Why did James II lose his throne – why did nobody support him? The aim of this essay is to find out the reasons why.
One of the main reasons was the fact that most of parliament turned against him. This was because parliament was jealous of James’ power. James had a standing army at his disposal and could raise money when he wanted to. The King could make courts to deal with religious issues and could suspend any law that he wanted – he could overrule a statue made by parliament. The most important thing however, was the fact that the King could interfere with parliamentary votes. This meant that he could call a re-election if too many people that he didn’t like were MPs. James also ruled without parliament and used his power to over rule them.
Another important reason was the fact that James believed in divine right. He believed that whatever he said was true – and that nobody could say no to the king. This meant that he was very arrogant and was often criticised. He had few friends. James broke the law many times and used the excuse of divine right to try to overrule parliament. In 1686 he broke the test act by appointing a Catholic army officer and in 1687 he tried to pass a law which allowed freedom to all religions. Luck was a large factor as if James had not ruled when England was protestant, then he probably would have been quite a good king. James had never accepted that Parliament was the ultimate authority in England.
Another reason might have been the unpopularity of his ancestors. Charles I was executed and Charles II had been very unpopular. Charles II – James’ brother had broken a large amount of laws and had sworn to make England Catholic (Treaty of Dover.) Charles had ruled without parliament and had almost created a second civil war. James was like his brother in many ways, so people must have disliked him as they had disliked Charles.
The most important reason was religion. In those times religion brought people together. It was very important. James, being stubborn and Catholic wanted to carry out his brother’s promise of the 1670 Treaty of Dover. He decided that he would use the help of the French to make England Catholic. He was unsuccessful. Bishops who had turned against him were put on trial – and found not guilty. Even James’ own soldiers cheered at the verdict!
The fact that he himself was a Catholic and had married a Catholic made many people angry. Memories such as Mary Tudor’s burning of Protestants, The Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder plot made people despise Catholics. The King of France’s cruelty to Protestants led to people believing that Catholics were evil and all Catholic rulers were cruel to Protestants. The last and final straw was when a male heir was born in June 1688. People had believed that his protestant daughter and her husband might have been able to persuade James, but a Catholic heir from his second wife had proved them wrong. One mad king was a misfortune to be patiently borne but the prospect of a whole family of fanatics was quite another matter.
In conclusion, James II lost his throne due to lack of support. Parliament now had a large amount of power and opposing them was very difficult. “Nineteen out of Twenty” people supported William of Orange. His religion meant that hardly any of the people of England supported him and that his army deserted him. James lost his throne to a number of reasons – any one of which could not have made him lose it. For example, even if most of the people of England were against him with Parliament on his side and enough money he could have overcome anyone who disagreed with his religion. However, he made himself so unpopular that he had no support, no money, no army and no chance of keeping his throne.