The Memoirs of James II: His Campaigns as Duke of York, 1652-1660

The Memoirs of James II: His Campaigns as Duke of York, 1652-1660

The Memoirs of James II: His Campaigns as Duke of York, 1652-1660

The Memoirs of James II: His Campaigns as Duke of York, 1652-1660

Excerpt

James the Second of England and the Seventh of Scotland was neither a great man nor a great king. But he was a prince of firm integrity, strong religious faith, a loyal master and friend--perhaps, in the light of his own interests, too loyal a friend-- and, within the limits imposed by his royal birth and calling, a fine administrator, especially in naval and military matters in which from his earliest years he had had much experience. With the help of his lieutenant, Samuel Pepys, he did more personally for the Royal Navy than any other English Sovereign, past or future. And that was no small service to his country, even if it was his only one. With his ancestor, Edward III, he shared, too, the unique privilege for a King of England of commanding her Fleet in action. He not only took part, like King George VI and the Duke of Edinburgh, in one of the major battles of British sea history, but he directed it victoriously as Commander-in-Chief. Not only did he command Britain's Fleet in action and preside over her Admiralty for many years. At one time, as a very young man, he temporarily commanded the French army in the field while acting as deputy for the great Turenne. Later, though also for a very brief period and as a deputy, he commanded the Spanish army in the Netherlands. Many years afterwards, when King of England, he commanded the English Army in the abortive and, for him, disastrous campaign of 1688. He also commanded the Irish Army before the battle of the Boyne. This must surely be a record of command, however checkered, for any Sovereign. James, too, was the last Roman Catholic to reign in England. And he has yet another claim to fame: that the greatest city of the modern world, New York, was re-christened after him and bears his name.

James was born on October 14th, 1633, six months after the Fleet Street tailor's son, Samuel Pepys, who was one day to help . . .

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