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James II by Francis Charles Turner
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Points of interest:
James was appointed High Admiral of Spain 1660.
James one of the first gentlemen fox-hunters.James may have been impressed by the Catholic atmosphere in Turenne's army. [So may Turenne.]
Danby said that Archbishop of Rheims came to Church of England services when in England.
Irish Bishops had a plan for a rising, 1679.
Protestants believed that James would be given a dispensation to conform and that at his coronation he made mental reservations and was given a dispensation.
Many Protestants left Ireland after James' accession.
"In the whole history of Parliament it is doubtful whether the Crown on any other occasion put forth such an effort or interfered so universally or systematically in a parliamentary election" - referring to General Election of 1685.
Little contemporary reaction to Bloody Assizes.
Incumbent of Putney allowed to retain his cure despite his conversion.
Peterboro was "converted" but when the Churchwardens of St Margaret's Westminster asked if they might dispose of his pew he said, "No, no, one doth not know what may happen."
40 hours service in Chapel Royal, 1688.
Tyrconnel said Roman Catholics and Protestants were about equal in Ulster and Dublin.
Irish Roman Catholics required suppression of Protestant worship. [Only reference given is a pamphlet of 1692.]

Criticisms one might make:
a) Though the author is not anti-Catholic he has the common misconceptions of a non-Catholic. He believes that there is a distinction between broadminded and fanatical Catholics and that the latter are priest-ridden.
b) The influence of the French ambassador is both Charles' and James' reign was clearly vast, and often overshadowed that of native ministers; but he may make it seem even greater thatn it really was for the Ambassadors' Reports seem to be his biggest single source of information. James made treaty with United Provinces behind Barrillon's back, 1685.
c) He assumes that James' aim was to impose Catholic ascendancy. It seems clear enough that James did not favour toleration for its own sake. (Though he appointed three Dissenters as Privy Councillors he was certainly against toleration in Scotland.) But on the other hand Turner quotes nothing to show that he wished to put Catholicism above the Established Churches. James told Barrillon that he wanted to give the Catholics "entire liberty of conscience and the free exercise of their religion" and everything he did is compatible with the assumption that this was the limit of his aim.
d) the system of references is annoying.

He wastes little space on background information, which is clearly right in a book meant for serious students, and concentrates on James himself. His characterization of James carries conviction. He has obviously gone very thoroughly through the sources. A very sound and workmanlike book; one can see why it will probably be accepted as the standard biography of James.
(notes written 1952 or 1953)
  jhw | Apr 23, 2006 |
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