Friday, September 16, 2011

The Death of James II and VII

On September 16, 1701, the deposed King of England, Ireland and Scotland died in exile. Reading his list of titles, demonstrating the ups and downs of his life, I wonder if he read Boethius:

~~From 14 October 1633 to 6 February 1685: Prince James
~~From 27 January 1644 to 6 February 1685: The Duke of York
~~From 10 May 1659 to 6 February 1685: The Earl of Ulster
~~From 31 December 1660 to 6 February 1685: The Duke of Albany
~~Before 1 January 1665 to 6 February 1685: His Royal Highness
~~From 6 February 1685 to 11 December 1688: His Majesty The King
~~From 11 December 1688 to 16 September 1701: His Majesty King James II, but to the Jacobites in exile and in England, Scotland, and Ireland: His Majesty The King

In March 1701, John Drummond, the Duke of Melfort, sent a letter that ended up in England, where his avowal that King Louis XIV would restore King James II to the throne created an international and diplomatic panic. When James found out about it at St. Germain-en-Laye, he suffered a massive stroke on March 4 in the midst of a Lenten prayer service. He and Queen Mary Beatrice went to take the waters at Bourbon for a month, but when they returned he was really no better. (He managed to exile Lord Melfort!) James suffered another stroke in July and another massive stroke on September 2--the end was clearly near.

King Louis XIV promised James on September 13 that he would recognize "the Prince of Wales", James Francis Edward as the rightful King of England upon the former's death. When James II died on September 16, 1701 French heralds indeed proclaimed his son "King James III of England and Ireland; King James VIII of Scotland". King Philip V of Spain, Louis' grandson, and Pope Clement XI also recognized the young king.

Queen Mary Beatrice mourned her husband for a long time and found consolation in religious devotions and stays at the convent in Chaillot.

As I have noted before, I think that James II suffered horrible betrayals--his daughters, the Churchills, and other leaders of Parliament. He seems to have repented of his past sins of the flesh and infidelity to his two wives while in exile. He suffered the humiliation of exile and defeat and yet he worked to have his son prepared as well as possible for the duties of rule in England. May he rest in peace.

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