James II Abdicates
The 11th of December 1688 AD
It is one of history’s great ‘what ifs?’ Had James II not had a failure of will, and stood his ground against the forces of William of Orange rather than attempted to flee, what would have become of him and of Britain? In theory the forces under his command remained stronger than those of the rebels.
But flee he did on November 11 1688, throwing the Great Seal into the Thames as he went, an action that somehow ties him with the equally unloved King John and his loss of the crown jewels in The Wash . He only got as far as Kent , though.
In a very English solution to a tricky problem – the rightful king having been allowed to escape to France remained alive, and had no intention of giving up his claim to the throne – James II by his flight and rejection of the seal was later deemed to have abdicated. The Scottish Parliament by contrast found he had forfeited the crown and deposed him. His daughter Mary was thus Queen, and her husband William her equal as King. Vacancy filled, ends neatly tied up.
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