James II belonged to the House of Stuart. Born in 1633, he ascended to the throne in 1685 and died in 1701. He was preceded as monarch by Charles II and was succeeded by William and Mary.
James was the second son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. As an infant, he was created Duke of York. During the civil war, he remained in England till shortly before his father's execution, when he fled to Holland. At the Restoration, he was made lord high admiral of England. In 1672 he openly professed his Roman Catholicism. The Exclusion Bill of 1679 was designed to prevent his ascension to the throne, but it was thrown out by the House of Lords in 1680.
On the death of Charles II in 1685, James became king. He attempted to repeal the Test Act by means of Parliament, but when that failed, he fell back on the dispensing power, set up a new Court of Ecclesiastical Commission, and issues his first Declaration of Indulgence. The result was the Glorious Revolution. William of Orange was invited to come to England in 1688. James fled, dying in exile.