Mobile menu

James II, King of Great Britain (1633-1701)

  • The second son of Charles I, he was named Duke of York at birth
  • A successful naval commander during the reign of his brother Charles II, whom he succeeded
  • Secretly received into the Roman Catholic church in 1670; his obvious sympathy for Catholicism was increasingly evident by the time of his accession, leading to widespread distrust among his subjects
  • His daughters by his first wife, Anne Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, succeeded as Mary II and Queen Anne
  • After Anne Hyde’s death (1671) he married (1673) Mary of Modena, a Catholic; their son, James (the ‘Old Pretender’), was born in June 1688
  • James II fled to France in December 1688, after much of his army joined the future William III (James’s son-in-law and nephew) without a fight
  • Spent most of the rest of his life in exile in France
  • Acquired Italian paintings by artists including Domenichino, through Cardinal Barberini in Rome
  • As Duke of York commissioned portraits of fellow naval officers from Lely
  • Engaged the two Van de Veldes to paint a series of paintings of naval actions
  • Commissioned both altar plate and silver furnishings


Reigned: 1685–88


Objects associated with James II, King of Great Britain (1633-1701)