The reign of James II, 1685-1688


The Monmouth Rebellion

  • Charles died in 1685 and Monmouth soon raised a rebellion in the West Country.
  • He had been in self-imposed exile in Holland and landed at Lyme Regis in June.
  • The Rebellion received little support and Monmouth's followers were subject to harsh punishments.
  • Monmouth himself was executed on his uncle's orders in July.
  • A series of trials known as 'The Bloody Assizes' began in August and resulted in the execution of hundreds of suspected conspirators. 
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James and Parliament


  • the Parliament that assembled in May 1685 was dominated by Tories supportive of James, primarily because of continued royal interference in the awarding of borough charters.
  • This meant Parliament was generous in its financial settlement and voted £2 million per year to James, giving him a high degree of independence.


  • James issued personal dispensations to allow Catholics to become army officers and announced that he intended to suspend the Test Acts.
  • Both Whigs and Tories voted to restrict his funding. 
  • James adjourned Parliament in November and eventually dissolved it. 
  • fear began to spread that without parliament James would promote Catholicism. 
  • Scottish Parliament, James planned to introduce penal laws against rebellious Presbyterians while advocating toleration for Catholics.
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Godden v. Hales

  • in 1686, Sir Edward Hales, a Catholic, was sued by his coachman, Arthur Godden, for holding a military command without taking Anglican communion.
  • At the trial, it was judged only the King could decide whether Hales was at fault and whether officers should take the Test Act.
  • James had legal backing to suspend laws against Catholics.
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James and Religious toleration

  • highest offices were given to Catholics and James received the papal ambassador. 
  • in April 1687,  James used the ruling to issue the Declaration of Indulgence.
  • James's ultimate aspiration was to convert England to Catholicism.
  • James attempts to gain the support of dissenters. A group of administrators was appointed to purge borough corporations of anyone unwilling to accept the Indulgence.
  • Catholics were appointed as magistrates and James expelled the Fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, and replaced them with Catholics.
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Anglican Supremacy

James challenged the traditional Anglican Supremacy, the Tories were loyal to Anglican support. James mistook his strong position and support from the Tories as complete loyalty to him, rather than the Divine Right of Kings.

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