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James II

Effect of James's Catholicism

James was converted to Roman Catholicism probably in 1668—a step that was to have grave consequences. After his resignation (1673) as admiral because of the Test Act and his marriage (1673) to the staunchly Catholic Mary of Modena (his first wife having died in 1671), he became increasingly unpopular in England. James consented to the marriage (1677) of his daughter Mary (later Mary II) to the Protestant prince of Orange (later William III), and the couple became the heirs presumptive, after James, to the English throne. In the anti-Catholic hysteria that accompanied the false accusations of Titus Oates about the Popish Plot (1678), efforts were made by the so-called Whigs to exclude James from the succession. Charles stood by his brother, preventing passage of the Exclusion Bill, but sent him out of the country. After a period as commissioner (1680–82) in Scotland, James returned to England, and particularly after the Rye House Plot (1683) his fortunes rose.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies


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