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With James II-VII of England and Scotland on the throne both nations now had a Catholic king. After almost being excluded from the throne by Parliament because of his religion, the first Parliament to sit under James’ rule was known as the Loyal Parliament. The first months of the reign of James II-VII found him having a high level of popularity among the people and Parliament. The large issue that did dominate his short reign was religion. He was a Catholic king ruling a Protestant country. For many years Catholics were persona non-grata in elected offices. When James began to fill the standing army and high offices with Catholics this alarmed both the public and the Parliament.

James was not like Mary I where she tried to restore Catholicism as the official religion through bloody means. James was more like his brother, Charles II, who wanted to give Catholics equal standing in the realm. Charles faced many prejudices and an egalitarian approach toward religion was too far ahead of its time. For James, his attempts to repeal the penal laws that were in place against Catholics. In 1687 he issued the Declaration of Indulgence which was supposed to offset the penal laws. This alienated him more from Parliament and the people. James II-VII was tolerated for these behaviors knowing that in time the throne would pass to his eldest daughter, Princess Mary, a Protestant, who was married to her cousin, and a staunch supporter of Protestantism, Prince Willem III of Orange, stadtholder of the Netherlands.

However, back in 1673 James married, as his second wife, the Italian-Catholic Princess, Marie-Beatrice of Modena. For more than 10 years the marriage did not produce heirs that lived for very long. On June 10, 1688 the queen gave birth to a healthy thriving son, Princes James Francis Edward, shortly thereafter created Prince of Wales. The birth of a healthy male heir, who would be raised Catholic and supplant his protestant half-sister’s place in the succession, was not seen as a positive event. Many people and Parliament felt that this was the start of a long line of Catholic kings on the English and Scottish thrones.

In Part IV I will look at how James II-VII was deposed and discuss whether or not William III was a usurper.