What is the course about?
Although his reign was one of the shortest in Britain James had a distinguished career before becoming king and an
intriguing one in exile. A Catholic convert he was doomed to fail in Protestant Britain.
Tutor Bio: William’s first degree at Keele was in History and Geography with subsidiary Greek Studies and Music.
His MA was in Historical Geography at Birkbeck and PhD in Anglo-Saxon History at King’s College, London. After
teaching History he was a Civil Servant in the Departments of Transport and Education but continued teaching part-
time at Greenwich College, Bexley AEC, Morley and the City Lit, both History and the History of Music. He has
been an official eyeOpener guide at the British Museum since the programme’s inception in 1994, giving over 700
talks throughout the museum. He also lectures on Cruise Ships, conducts tours for various charities and maintains
his own website www.williamsterling.co.uk.
What will we cover?
James was the second son of Charles I so not expected to be king until later in life when it became clear his brother
Charles II would die without a legitimate child. James was brought up at his parents’ court in an atmosphere that
led to civil war and was captured when Oxford fell in 1646. He made a daring escape to Holland aged 15. In France
he served in the army under Turenne and later fought against the French for the Spanish. After the restoration James
was given several important roles by his brother including Lord High Admiral. Controversially he married his
mistress, the commoner, Anne Hyde and they secretly converted to Catholicism. Their daughters were brought up
as Protestants but after Anne’s death James’s conversion became known and he married another Catholic, the
Italian Mary of Modena. On Charles’s death James succeeded. The music for his coronation including works by
Purcell is the first to be fully documented. James tried to bring in religious toleration against the wishes of his
ministers. When the queen had a son who would be brought up as a Catholic many people decided to invite
James’s son-in-law the Protestant William of Orange to oust him. In exile again he encouraged his supporters to try
and restore him and led an army in Ireland personally. Although he failed he had an influential court in France where
he was supported by Louis XIV who recognised his son as the rightful King when James died in 1701 at the age of
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Identify Key Stages in the history of later Stuart England
- Demonstrate understanding of the roles of the monarch and parliament in the C17th
- Demonstrate understanding of the difficulties of a monarch whose conscience went against the religion of his
- Contribute to discussions on the role of James and his government in the development religious tolerance in Great
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an `introductory` course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good
grasp of English to keep up with the course. You will gain more from the course, in terms of enjoyment and
learning, if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with most of our history and current
affairs courses, intellectual curiosity and an open mind are more important than specific levels of skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
A mixture of lecture and discussion.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no necessary costs although further reading will be suggested. Paper and pen to make notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HH114 Life and times of William and Mary.