The reign of James II is one of the most turbulent periods in seventeenth-century history. On coming to the throne in 1685, James was the first Catholic to rule in Protestant Britain for over a century. But despite suspicions about his religion, James was initially a popular monarch. Over the following years, though, his policies increasingly divided the opinion of the people he sought to rule. The result was a foreign invasion and a revolution. In this film Dr John West and Dr Joseph Hone trace the journey that James made in four years from respected ruler to a monarch facing deposition.


Key Questions:

  • Why was James’s Catholicism a problem?
  • How did James allay the fears of his subjects on coming to throne in 1685?
  • To what extent were James’s policies the cause of William of Orange’s invasion in 1688?


Further Reading:

  • Tim Harris, Revolution: The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy 1685-1720 (London: Penguin, 2006).
  • Steve Pincus, 1688: The First Modern Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
  • Scott Sowerby, Making Toleration: The Repealers and the Glorious Revolution (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2013).

Unless otherwise noted, images in this film are reproduced by courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.