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James II, Our Catholic King

THIS PAST SATURDAY was the anniversary of the birth of King James II and VII of England and Scotland. The third son of Charles I, he was baptised into the Anglican church six weeks after his birth and was created Duke of York at eleven years of age. In 1660, James married Anne Hyde, the daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, by whom he fathered eight children, though only two survived past childhood. In 1664 the Duke of York equipped an expedition to relieve the Dutch of responsibility for their colonies in North America, and henceforth New Amsterdam and New Netherland were known as New York after their new Lord Proprietor.

A miniature of James, Duke of York, c. 1660.

Sometime during the year 1670 both the Duke and Duchess of York were received into the Catholic Church and stopped attending Anglican services, though the conversion did not become public knowledge until the Test Act (requiring officeholders to receive communion in a Church of England service and take an oath against Transubstantiation) was passed three years later. James was forced to renounce his offices, such as Lord High Admiral of England, though not his titles. At any rate, Anne, the Duchess of York had died in 1671 only a year after her conversion. He married Princess Maria of Modena in 1673.

The Protestant oligarchs felt threatened by the prospect of a Catholic king and thrice tried to pass laws barring James from succeeding to the throne. However his elder brother Charles II, the reigning king, dissolved parliament each time before the bill was to be passed. King Charles II died in February 1685, (having reconciled himself to the Catholic faith before his end) and thus the Duke of York was proclaimed James II of England and VII of Scotland. A private Catholic coronation was held at Whitehall Palace on April 22 before the public coronation the following day on the feast of Saint George, which was performed according to the rites of the Church of England.

James II’s seal for use in New York, in which a colonist and a native show their loyalty to the King. James had appointed the Catholic Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick, Governor of New York in 1682.

The Protestant oligarchs’ fears that James would end their hegemonic grip on Scotland and England proved well-founded as in 1687 he issued a Declaration of Toleration as King of Scotland, allowing Catholics, Episcopalians, and other non-Presbyterians to hold public office and the right of public worship, and a Declaration of Indulgence as King of England removing the laws penalizing non-attendance or non-communion at Church of England services, permitting non-Anglican worship in private homes or chapels, and abolishing religious oaths for public offices. Furthermore, James had allowed Catholics to hold positions at the University of Oxford for the first time since the Protestant Revolution. More provocatively, he tried to transform Magdalen College Oxford into a Catholic seminary. He had already reckoned with the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth who proclaimed himself king two years earlier but had been captured, tried, and executed for treason. With the birth of a Catholic son and heir, Prince James Francis Edward, in 1688 a cabal of seven Protestant nobles issued an invitation to William of Orange, the Protestant Stadtholder of the Netherlands. A few months later, William of Orange duly arrived and usurped the throne, having already married James’ daughter Mary from his first marriage. The two ruled jointly as William and Mary.

Unwilling to create a popular martyr as had happened with the executed Charles I, William allowed James to escape and fled to France where Louis XIV gave the exiled monarch the use of a palace and an ample pension. James was intent on returning to his birthright, however, and took advantage of the Irish parliament’s refusal to recognise William’s usurpation of the throne. The King landed in Ireland in March of 1689 at the head of a Franco-Irish army but was defeated by William in the famous Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, and returned to his place of exile in France.

There, Louis allowed him to live in the château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and offered to get James elected King of Poland but James felt this would prevent any chance of a Stuart again holding the throne of England. From that time onwards, James led a simple life of penance in reparation for his sins (he had had a number of mistresses in his younger days) and finally died in 1701. He was entombed in the Chapel of St. Edmund within the English Benedictine church on the Rue St. Jacques in Paris, while his brain was sent to the Scots College in Rome, his heart to the Visitandine Convent at Chaillot, and his bowels divided between the College of St. Omer (the exiled English Catholic school, now Stonyhurst in Lancashire), and the nearby parish church of St. Germain where they remained until they were desecrated by a Revolutionary mob and lost forever. His monument at Saint-Germain, however, was rediscovered in 1824 and is proudly displayed there to this day. There is also a monument to James and the Stuarts in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (c.f. Roma – Caput Mundi).

While I am told that Padre Pio asserted that either Edward VII or George V had a deathbed reception into the Church, so far as it historically verifiable James II was the last Catholic king (and as neither Edward nor George reigned over New York, James is even more certifiably so for us). There is a lovely coronation ode to James which I just might bring to your attention someday. But for now, reflect and remember our monarchs of old and pray that God in His mercy might grant us good Catholic rulers in stead of the shabby lot we elect today.

This post was published on Monday, October 16th, 2006 10:03 am. It has been categorised under Church History Monarchy New York Saints.
Comments
  1. Steve M.
    16 October 2006
    12:51 pm

    Thanks for yet another fine post, Andrew. Sorry to have missed the gathering at No Idea last week.
    Irish Elk has a link to a nice blog post by a Catholic priest in England, Fr. Nicholas Schofield, about prayers, on the occasion of his birthday last year, at a statue of King James in London. Apparently a cause for his beatification was started in 1702, but then suspended in 1740.

  2. 16 October 2006
    1:26 pm

    Look carefully at the miniature portrait of His Grace. Am I mistaken in thinking that he shows signs of being endowed with the genetic trait known to historians as the “Hapsburg Lip”?

    It shows slightly in the first portrait of His Majesty as well, though not so obviously.

  3. 16 October 2006
    2:25 pm

    Small point- Mary was already the wife of William of Orange prior to the revolution (and had been for some years, I believe).

  4. 16 October 2006
    2:59 pm

    Steve M.: I did not know that! I wonder it’s a cause worth renewing.

    Hilary: Perhaps the “Hapsburg Lip” is actually a “Catholic Ruler Lip”? Hmmm… perhaps not. Neither Franco nor Dolfuss had it, nor innumerable others.

    Gabriel: Duly noted and corrected, many thanks!

  5. JA
    16 October 2006
    3:27 pm

    I see the old Catholic talent for sowing sedition and discord still prevails! Incidentally, you skip over the fact that the Stuarts sought in effect to overturn constitutional developmets like Magna Carta, and return to a Medieval system of absolute rule. They were no fans of parliament. The United States constitution was made possible because – amongst other things – James II was kicked out. It’s all part of the glorious Anglosphere constitutional development!

  6. 16 October 2006
    3:45 pm

    It’s all part of the glorious Anglosphere constitutional development!

    Hail the onward march of progress! Death to stability and long live change! Out with the old, in with the new! Democracy, democracy, democracy, whether they want it or not!

    If the current state of our polities is anything to judge it by, you can keep your glorious Anglosphere constitutional development!

  7. JA
    16 October 2006
    4:48 pm

    I am altogether sympathetic with your dislike of the present day’s slavish, thoughtless devotion to “progress”, “change” and all the other genuinely heartbreaking, careless attitudes towards our past that make-up the postmodern mindset – and I have nothing but contempt for callous vandalism perpetrated against traditions that have formed and provide the basis for so much around us.

    But that is now. And James II was then. One must have a rather more subtle view of history than your last comment possessed. Of course one deplores destabilization: but change isn’t always destabilization. In the Glorious Revolution, it was quite the opposite, in fact. It brought stability. It ended public doubt and fears. It put paid to fears of sectarian conflict. It calmed anxieties of new civil war. It stabilized. As did the Magna Carta. People now knew they could not be imprisoned without cause and speedy trial. A very big change – but a very stabilizing, harmonising one indeed.

    Change has been necessary in the past, and will probably be in the future (if only to get us out of the many messes we are presently in, owing overzealous change in recent years).

    According to your logic, the overthrow of paganism was in itself a bad thing. But of course it wasn’t. Just as the overthrow of barbarism and corrupt totalitarianism by the Magna Carta, Glorious Revolution, Act of Settlement and so on, was absolutely a damn good thing.

    Yah boo sucks to the Stuarts.

  8. Old Dominion Tory
    17 October 2006
    8:26 am

    An excellent post, Mr. Cusack.
    If you want an absolutely delightful Jacobite read for an autumn afternoon, please secure a copy of the historial novel, “Prince Charlie’s Bluff.” In it, Bonnie Prince Charlie comes to America in the aftermath of the British defeat at Quebec to secure a Stuart kingdom in Virginia (considered by his Stuart ancestors as their “fifth crown.”).

  9. 17 October 2006
    12:41 pm

    “overturn constitutional developmets like Magna Carta,and return to a Medieval system of absolute rule.”

    Where do I sign up for this conspiracy? Is there a website?

  10. 17 October 2006
    12:48 pm

    Oh, I hope St. Pio was right! Both of them would be wonderful, though George V was practically in a coma, so it was probably Edward. By the way, I believe James II had Habsburg blood through his mother.

  11. 17 October 2006
    1:47 pm

    First of all, Magna Carta had already been rendered pretty much irrelevant by Henry VIII’s overturning of it’s first and most important article: the freedom of the Church.

    Second of all, Magna Carta was medieval itself, so what’s this ‘medieval system of absolute rule’ of which you speak?

    Absolutism is a modern phenomenon which continues to this day. The Crown faction and Parliamentary faction merely disagreed on which was to be absolute: Crown or Parliament. I still say a generally mixed government of monarch, aristocracy, and representatives is best anyhow. The monarch remains the font of legitimacy, though, and both the cornerstone and keystone of government.

  12. Kevin
    17 October 2006
    2:25 pm

    That a government must attain legitimacy to be effective is not to be disputed. But I must ask you, Andrew, why you insist on a monarch as “the font of legitimacy”. What has lent legitimacy to other governments throughout history has been a strong sense of social contract. Is there no other possible source of legitimacy for a government? Agreed that the current state of affairs in the US is deplorable in several respects, but would you go so far as to say it is illegitimate?

  13. 17 October 2006
    2:42 pm

    Bravo Mr. Cusack!

    “The United States constitution was made possible because – amongst other things – James II was kicked out. It’s all part of the glorious Anglosphere constitutional development.”

    What a horribly distasteful remark. The American Constitution is decent, but by Catholic standards its hardly ideal. All that talk of “rights” began with the Enlightenment, making it highly suspect. In fact, the wording of the Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen bears a striking to our own Constitution. They both contain a subtle tendency toward individualism – each man should determine his own good and be free to pursue it in his own way, as long as he does not interfere with anyone else’s pursuit of their respective good. The purpose of government is to help men pursue their objective good – namely, salvation through virtuous living – together.

    On a lighter note, I should like to recommend my favorite source for Jacobite music, the incomparable Tannahill Weavers. Welcome Royal Cherlie is particularly fine.

  14. 17 October 2006
    3:10 pm

    I was only speaking of the monarch as font of legitimacy in a monarchic set-up.

    Is the U.S. government legitimate? I would say where and when it acts constitutionally it is, and when otherwise probably not.

    Ultimately, God is the primal font of legitimacy.

  15. Kevin
    17 October 2006
    3:31 pm

    Fair enough. Sounds as though we are agreed that it is some form of social contract that creates legitimacy (i.e. the group being governed determining that they agree, constitutionally or otherwise, on how they ought to be governed – or the group pledges loyalty to the monarch or head of state or God). I wonder then if the US Supreme Court stands in for the monarch in the US system. Doesn’t endear me to lawyers any much more, though!

  16. JA
    17 October 2006
    3:57 pm

    1) One violation of the Magna Carta does not make subsequent ones any less bad.

    2) I wasn’t using ‘medieval’ emotionally: as you say, the Magna Carta was also medieval, and I was referring to the system of contemporaneous (and hence, medieval) absolutism it curtailed.

    3) I completely agree with your remarks on mixed government and monarchy. The monarchy is still the font of legitimacy in the UK – everything is in the name of the Crown – but of course only in name, which is sad. One of the biggest problems today is that the Monarch – who plays the role of dispassionate, long-term, thoughtful and forceful friend of the people – has been reduced to almost nothing in today’s system. But we need someone to rule, as well as political leaders to lead; there must be someone with longevity, perspective, disinterestedness and authority to guide the country at all times, even if but subtly.

    Foolishly, the Monarchy has in part (out of fear and incompetence) connived in the complete erosion of this role.

  17. 17 October 2006
    6:45 pm

    “has been a strong sense of social contract.”

    Thus speaks a child of the Enlightenment. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

  18. 17 October 2006
    10:28 pm

    “Social contract” is so Enlightenment.

    And it is only a first-order morality, that ignores both duty and love. And anyway we don’t even have a social contract anymore: our new system is called “positive law’ which means that justice is whatever the powerful says is just.

  19. 18 October 2006
    2:28 am

    Dear Andrew:

    From my website:

    James II, the last reigning Catholic King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, strove mightily during his short active reign (1685-1688) to restore his realms peacefully to Catholic unity. For this he was deposed by the Whig oligarchy. These two prayers were composed especially for him, and written by hand in to his own prayer-book. In to-day’s Church, they are especially relevant for those who would remain loyal to orthodox Catholic doctrine and practise.

    ALMIGHTY and everlasting God! Who only workest great marvells, show the riches of Thy goodness to Thy desolate and persecuted Church, that now sits mourning in her own dust and ruins, torn by schism and stripped and spoiled by sacrilege.
    And Thou, who after a long captivity didst bring back Thy people to rebuild their Temple, look upon us with the same eyes of mercy.
    Restore to us once again the publick worship of Thy name, the reverent administration of Thy sacraments; raise up the King, that we may once more enter into Thy courts with praise and serve Thee with that reverence, that unity, and order, as may be acceptable in Thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

    O MOST powerful and ever blessed Lord God! Who art glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders; we most humbly beseech Thee to look compassionately on this persecuted part of Thy Church, now driven from Thy publick altars into corners and secret closets, that Thy protection may be over us, wherever we shall be scattered, and a remnant preserved amongst us by whom Thy name may be glorified, Thy sacraments administered, and the souls of Thy servants kept up in a corrupted and corrupting generation. So we that are Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture shall give Thee thanks for ever, and will always be showing forth Thy praise from generation to generation, through Jesus Christ, our only Saviour and Redeemer. AMEN.

    SOURCE: Donald B. Aldrich, ed., The Golden Book of Prayer, Dodd, Mead, & Co., New York 1942, pp. 224-225.

  20. 18 October 2006
    2:40 am

    JA,

    Wise historians have pointed out that the US Constitution is modelled on the “strong king” Stuart Constitution, not the “parliament reigns supreme” Constitution of the not-so-Glorious Revolution.

  21. JA
    18 October 2006
    8:50 am

    I wouldn’t go so far as “wise”. It isn’t even remotely modelled on the Stuart Constitution, except I suppose in vesting one man (the President), the head of state, with certain significant powers. The rest of it – the qualifications and moderations on those Presidential powers, the emphasis on power arising from the people, the decentralisation of government, Congress, the Bill of Rights (funnily enough, something which sounds rather similar to… the British Bill of Rights, a Glorious Revolution-innovation) and so on. It’s no use berating the Whigs: the U.S. is the most Whiggish of all countries.

  22. 18 October 2006
    10:06 am

    ‘I was referring to the system of contemporaneous (and hence, medieval) absolutism it curtailed.’

    I am relieved that JA realises that Magna Carta is medieval (sadly one can’t assume too little common knowledge at present), but it is also misleading to describe any medieval monarchy as ‘absolutist’ (well, there are some debates about C14 Iberia, but I don’t think there was a theoretical articulation there that could be called ‘absolutist’, though I may be wrong). The notion of the monarch in himself having absolute power (ie being above the law and so forth) is certainly not medieval; if it is anything, I presume it is early modern, but I don’t know enough to say. In practice, things like Magna Carta no doubt curtailed arbitrary rule; but this does not mean that the contemporary concept of monarchy is helpfully described as absolutist.

  23. 18 October 2006
    11:36 am

    I’ll stay out of the discussion,, but just as an FYI,I checked on James II’s Habsburg blood. Marie de Medici, his maternal grandmother, was the Emperor Ferdinand I’s daughter, the Archduchess Johanna. The descent from Marie de Medici made Pope Leo X his ancestral uncle, and the Habsburg line made him a 4th great-grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Los Reyes Catolicos. You might enjoy the fact that this means James II was a third cousin, eight times removed to the Blessed Emperor Karl.

  24. 18 October 2006
    11:40 am

    Forgive the mistake in the previous comment. My keyboard has seen better days and my mouse is dying, so I’m not paying proper attention. That should say that Marie de Medici was a daughter of the Archduchess Johanna, who was a daughter of the Emperor Ferdinand.

  25. 18 October 2006
    2:20 pm

    I concur with the sentiment that absolutism is generally a modern, Enlightenment phenomenon.

    However, for those neo-Jacobites here, I ask what you make of the exaggerated, absolutist Divine Right theory supported by James II’s forerunners, and whether it was of major influence on the Jacobites.

    Is Filmer the go-to guy for the Jacobites, or would believing him to be that exaggerate his influence?

  26. JA
    18 October 2006
    7:06 pm

    I think it’s difficult to make the case that absolutism simply begins in the Early Modern Period (it certainly doesn’t begin in the Enlightenment, Kevin!). Whilst Medieval Europe was largely too feudal and federated (cf. fyrdinc – the Anglo-Saxon for) for Monarchical absolutism to exist, impure forms increasingly predominate throughout the period.

    Kings could be merrily dethroned, and even Vikings like Cnut set in their stead (by no more than brute violence) – so the connection between divine and earthly power seems less than strongly believed in. But! The connection between earthly power and divine power (ie. the other way round) WAS believed in; one only has to read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles to know that. Failure on earth was held to mean failure on a spiritual level; and success on earth, either success on a spiritual level, or success augured by God (the Saxons couldn’t understand why the heathenish Vikings kept on successfully duffing them up, and thought of them as either God’s direct and active judgement on them, or God’s passive and indirect judgement – “God was asleep in this year” and all that). So if you can kill the King and crown yourself – God must have let you – ergo – God wants you King. Absolutism of a tangible variety, if you ask me.

    I suppose we’re splitting hairs. It’s rather fun. Whoever’s right, James II doesn’t have my sympathy at all. Charles I and Charles II (less so) certainly do. But Charles I was essentially a tragic figure; a Buckley standing athwart History yelling stop, but inescapably incapable of success. I don’t mean some progressive sense of History – but the fairly inevitable results of population increase and technological advance (esp. printing press). These devices made Britain smaller; thus more potentially democratic; and therefore, given every man’s fallen selfishness, more *inevitably* democratic.

    Very sad. Charles’ speeches are profoundly moving, and especially for any traditionalist.

  27. JA
    18 October 2006
    7:21 pm

    **Amendment

    Left out half a sentence. ‘Fyrd’ (not fyrdinc, my mistake) means a royal military expedition, but is also one of several words closely connected to the Anglo-Saxon for feudal. My point was that royal power was closely connected up at this point with the societal structure, as the language of the time shows.

    Also, should have gone on to stress the impurity of this Medieval (Old English) absolutism. Of course it is very obviously not watertight absolutism, given that violence undoes it repeatedly – and every time it undoes it, it validates itself. Hence it is more a perpetual cycle of absolutism, often very poorly (but not for want of trying) enforced. I certainly think the pre-Christian structure of Anglo-Saxon England was quasi-absolutist: absolutist but voluntarily so, with a culture that encouraged and valorized submission and obeisance to such a system. Which sort of takes the sting out of it.

    It was a little silly of me to use early Medieval Britain as a defence. Much later Medieval monarchs, like King John, were absolutist though – I’d argue. William the Conqueror – of course one expects such behaviour of a Frenchman – sort of kicks off that trend.

    I realise actually that I’ve been very incoherent in these past posts. Please forgive me. It’s gone midnight in Britain.

  28. JA
    18 October 2006
    7:23 pm

    I still say yah boo sucks to the Stuarts.

  29. Jacobite
    18 October 2006
    8:52 pm

    JA doesn’t know what he is talking about. James II was no fan of Parliament precisely because it was filled with bigots, just as it was in the time of his father. The Anglican Parliament felt threatened by James II because he was allowing liberty of conscience (see here and here) and thus ending Anglican oppression. Note that religious freedom was extended not only to Catholics, but also to Presbyterians and Quakers. Anglican Bishops petitioned against the liberal orders. 2 months after the Declaration of Indulgence was read in all the churches, Orange was invited by 5 English peers and 2 commoners to invade England by force. The Prince of Orange issued several declarations, here, here, and here, in each of which he stated his intention to restore the former state of religious oppression.

    Besides, JA, if it was all about getting rid of “the tyrant”, why did Parliament pass the Act of Settlement and skip over the more than 50 people next in line to the British throne to make way for the Elector of Hanover?

  30. 19 October 2006
    6:35 am

    I really don’t see that provendential readings of contemporary history imply political absolutism. And acknowledging the divine origin of royal power, or positing a specific divine mandate for a specific king’s rule, is something conceptually rather far from the ‘Divine Right of Kings’.

    In any case, JA, you seem to be writing about how effectively kings exerted absolute power, whereas I was talking about contemporary political thought. (Current forms of government are surely more ‘absolutist’, by your standard, than any previous medieval or modern monarch, given the firm and enforceable grip of the British government on so many areas of public and private life?!)

    Actually, just this morning I came across a quote from Edward I in the 1290s where he does claim that the king stands ‘above the laws and customs of the nation, for the sake of the common good’. Now in this particular case he was trying to get round a particular local custom, to exert royal authority in a particular locality. It does mean I shouldn’t generalise too wildly about medieval articulations of monarchical power, though…

    I probably don’t know enough about intellectual history to make particularly helpful comments, relaly. But what’s the internet for if not displaying one’s ignorance?

  31. Abelard
    19 October 2006
    7:03 am

    I always thought absolutism started with Louis IV. L’État, c’est moi, and all that.

  32. Abelard
    19 October 2006
    7:04 am

    argh Louis XIV I mean.

  33. 19 October 2006
    10:05 am

    Go James II! We’re actually studying him in AP Modern European History, but not in much detail.
    Can I ask you a favor? I’m a Catholic blogger without many computer skills, and very few readers, so could you PLEASE list my blog, http://crusader888.blogspot.com with the other ones on your fine site? God bless you. Vive le Roi, Louis XX!

  34. 19 October 2006
    10:26 am

    Speaking of Catholic monarchs, I’ve just been introduced to the most splendid beer, Gouden Carolus, brewed once a year on February 24th in honor of Charles the Fifth of blessed memory.

  35. JA
    19 October 2006
    6:06 pm

    Ah dear. Having sauntered out today for a prolonged period amongst our heathen fellow-men, I must say I find it almost inexpressibly cheering to come back for a cup of tea and a good discussion wtih so many sensible, rational, traditional people here.

    Jacobite – you do a funny thing, putting a rather extreme, Catholic (but not unheard-of) spin on William of Orange and the Protestant movement in Britain. Rather like calling the Reformation a brutal, extremist, thuggish revolution undertaken by elites from above rather than the people below. I mean, yes, you can say that (and with the Reformation, kind-of, sort-of, make a good-ish point, but still fail to characterise it accurately). But yours is a rather unseemly, grievance-mongering, uncharitable spin; referring to something as ‘religious oppression’, which less than 1% of people ever have done or would or did at the time.

    It’s anyway incorrect, because the Anglicans of Parliament and William of Orange were not oppressing religious freedom but securing civil stability, promoting harmonisation rather than factionalism in the population, and operating from a purely mercenary political perspective. What could best bind the people together, what could best prevent societal fragmentation upon hostile lines, what could most ably prevent foreign and internal would-be usurpers from establishing a base of support? Knitting the people as best as possible into one religious fabric – one which actually harmonised perfectly the Reformation with Catholicism, removing the abuses and heresies of the latter, but cooling the zealotry of the former – so that all are hearing the same kind of thing from the pulpit each week, and fundamental differences between large numbers of people were not exacerbated. As Macaulay said, all freedoms should be allowed unless their exercise imperils or infracts upon the freedom or future freedom of fellow men.

    And even if later on the Parliament had chosen a small dog for King, rather than George, I cannot understand how that would invalidate their arguments for getting rid of James II. Could you try and be less obtuse? And slightly less rude?

  36. JA
    19 October 2006
    6:10 pm

    **Correcting an inelegance: It isn’t nice to say a difference can be exacerbated; I suppose I meant ominously enlarged and sharpened.

  37. JA
    19 October 2006
    6:23 pm

    The providential readings didn’t imply absolutism: they licensed it in Kings (until someone came along and killed them, and then the whole thing began again). Like I said, impure; but certainly there.

    Modern government (British) is in practice uncomfortably absolutist. It wasn’t about a hundred years ago. And it isn’t rhetorically. But I think it fairly bloody awful, if tolerable still. It is absolutist in that it acts, to paraphrase Reagan, as if it has people, rather than the people having a government. Which is partly the fault of what will be seen, historically (if we have any historians in the future; if indeed our civilisation has a future), as one of the weakest and most incompetent Royal Houses of all time. As Churchill said after WWII (in a really great essay called ‘The Dream’), the Monarchy then was more popular than in the time of Victoria.

    Yet Elizabeth – though I venerate, honour and admire her, as my Monarch, still – either through personal haplesness or poor advice, or through being politically manipulated, entirely failed to capitalise on this popularity and reassert a prominent role for the Monarchy in the running of the country. Instead of redoubling her hold of the reins, she let what was left of them in her hands slip silently away.

    It is one of many chapters in the sad story of the decline of Britain – and, if not it’s fall, then at least it’s radical and apparently irreversible transformation. There are outposts of Britannia left. St Andrew’s seems to be one of them. But not many.

  38. Pitt
    23 October 2006
    10:57 pm

    He wasn’t attempting to introduce religious liberty. He was attempting to introduce religious liberty grounded on the illegal use of the dispensing power, by decree/. The Petition of the Seven Bishops is quite clear that is why they objected to it. He got King’s Bench to agree with it only by jerrymandering.

    Not to mention the fact of his notorious distaste for the religion Established by law, guaranteed by Apostolic tradition, and set forth by the English divines in Convocation. He had Irish in the Army, Catholics in the Ministry, and a huge standing army he refused to disband. By his contempt for the English Church and his trampling upon the free liberties of the subject, he alienated his rural Tory supporters, and finally crowned it all by abdicating the throne. (What else do you call desertion?) This AND his shameful treatment of Magdalen College inclined even his natural supporters to believe that he was attempting to restore Popery; something he promised he would not do.

    I am a strong believer in the divine right of Kings. But advocating for the right of the Jacobite heir, the German-speaking Francis Wittelbach of Bavaria as King of England strikes me as faintly ridiculous; of the same ilk as George I of Hanover. Not to mention the fact that the Jacobite line renounced their claim to the English throne during the first world war, and to the Scottish and French thrones simply by not using the title. The last Stuart with an asserted claim was Henry IX, Cardinal Duke of York.

    Her Majesty is Queen by blood succession from Elizabeth of Bohemia, she is Queen by Coronation and anointing by the Primate of All England, and she is Queen by acclamation and acceptance of her subjects; the three cornerstones of the Coronation Service.

    English Church and English Queen, I say. Away with the speculations and Papistical notions of Jesuits and Jacobites, and let us acknowledge a real Queen; one without a French army.

  39. Pitt
    24 October 2006
    3:40 am

    why did Parliament pass the Act of Settlement and skip over the more than 50 people next in line to the British throne to make way for the Elector of Hanover?

    They were all Lennox Stuarts, of the line of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley; hence all Catholic. The Elector was a Lutheran, and hence in communion with the Church whereof he became Supreme Governor.

  40. James Shoop
    12 December 2006
    7:44 pm

    Hey! When you finish talking philosophy why don’t you watch a good moive that in part pertains to King James II.
    “Captain Blood” 1935 with Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland. Guy Kibbee is miscast by the way.

  41. Coco Chanel
    13 October 2007
    8:29 pm

    “why did Parliament pass the Act of Settlement and skip over the more than 50 people next in line to the British throne to make way for the Elector of Hanover?”

    Pitt: They were all Lennox Stuarts, of the line of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley; hence all Catholic. The Elector was a Lutheran, and hence in communion with the Church whereof he became Supreme Governor.

    Oh, they were much, MUCH closer relatives than that. Read up on the matter, Pitt.

    They passed over Catholics because they were self-serving, arrogant bigots. Next.

  42. Coco Chanel
    13 October 2007
    8:32 pm

    James Shoop, as much as I like a good pirate movie, and love both Flynn and De Havilland, Captain Blood is a very dated movie. And historically inaccurate.

    Lots of movies are.

  43. Coco Chanel
    13 October 2007
    8:48 pm

    http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/04.17/15-kingjames.html

    For Pitt and JA. Enjoy the link!

    Maybe this will be a stop to all the pro-Williamite bleatings.

    But probably not.
    Just a question: how is “inviting” a force to invade your country and kill your countrymen NOT a treasonous act?
    Why did William and Mary show so much contempt for those who were not Church of England?

    Why did they (since they were both such stalwart,upstanding christians. ah hem.) encourage the most vile, contemptible propaganda against a very innocent women (Mary of Modena) and her baby?
    I mean, it’s not like they were hypocrites or anything (sarcasm) what with Mary II having a history of hysterical pregnancies questioning the validity of her brother’s birth (witnesses by 67 persons!) And knowing the score with her own husband, who spent more time with his male “friends” than with her.
    Wow, again, such stalwart models of christian virtue.

    Oh, isn’t Williamite history grand?

  44. Coco Chanel
    26 September 2008
    8:01 pm

    This is a very inaccurate site. But on a lighter tone I think it is very well presented and outlined. I think you should update it with some new text. Try going on wikipedia, it is extremely helpful!) I completely agree with your remarks on mixed government and monarchy. The monarchy is still the font of legitimacy in the UK – everything is in the name of the Crown – but of course only in name, which is sad. One of the biggest problems today is that the Monarch – who plays the role of dispassionate, long-term, thoughtful and forceful friend of the people – has been reduced to almost nothing in today’s system. But we need someone to rule, as well as political leaders to lead; there must be someone with longevity, perspective, disinterestedness and authority to guide the country at all times, even if but subtly.

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