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The History of England, from the Accession of James II - Volume 2

Thomas Babington Macaulay

Book Overview: 

Chapter 6 - This chapter starts from about 1685. James is on the throne and, as ever, there are disputes between crown and Parliament. We see the Habeus Corpus Act introduced, the persecution of the Huguenots and troubles in Ireland.

Chapter 7 - This chapter begins with a description of William, Prince of Orange – his early life, personality, and political policies. It goes on to describe, among other things, the Declaration of Indulgence, an early step towards establishing religious freedom in England, and the popular reaction to it.

Chapter 8 - In this chapter we see conflict between James II and his subjects. James is Catholic but rules a Protestant country. There are some serious stand-offs with colleges at Oxford and Cambridge plus conflict with the London clergy.

Chapter 9 - This chapter covers part of the invasion of England by William, the Dutch Stadtholder, later William III of England.

Chapter 10 - This chapter begins with the flight of James II and then moves on to the downfall of Judge Jeffreys and the arrival of Dutch troops in London. James flees again and we see the establishment of the Jacobean court in France at Saint Germains. The chapter ends with the crowning of William and Mary.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .sed. 190

In truth the crisis was only beginning. While Clarendon was trying to lean on Rochester, Rochester was unable longer to support himself. As in Ireland the elder brother, though retaining the guard of honour, the sword of state, and the title of Excellency, had really been superseded by the Commander of the Forces, so in England, the younger brother, though holding the white staff, and walking, by virtue of his high office, before the greatest hereditary nobles, was fast sinking into a mere financial clerk. The Parliament was again prorogued to a distant day, in opposition to the Treasurer's known wishes. He was not even told that there was to be another prorogation, but was left to learn the news from the Gazette. The real direction of affairs had passed to the cabal which dined with Sunderland on Fridays. The cabinet met only to hear the despatches from foreign courts read: nor did those despatches contain anything which was not known on the Royal Exc. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The rise and fall of James II, as Macaulay tells it, has the weight of a tragedy, except nobody has to die. I think Macaulay is right in speaking of it as very much to the credit of the English nation.

The second volume of the work deals in great detail with the three year reign of James II and ends with his ouster at the hands of William and Mary. Much effort is spent to convince the reader of James' tyrannical intentions and thereby establish the legitimacy of William and Mary's revolution. The

Easily one of the best history books I've ever read -- Macaulay's History of England isn't only useful to Americans for understanding the development of our civil rights, but a masterpiece of literature and an exciting read to boot. The last chapter on struggles with Ireland was especially relevant,