On this day in 1685 Charles II died after a short, sudden illness and was received into the Catholic Church on his passing.
And so his brother began his brief and troubled reign as James II and VII. The proclamation of his accession in Scotland was signed on 10th February by the entire Scottish Privy Council, including Bonnie Dundee, with no mention being made of the Covenant, that troubled document which had overshadowed all political and military events in Scotland since 1638.
Although it was in Scotland that Charles had first landed and been proclaimed King in 1649, on the basis that he signed up to the Covenant, he had had little interest in matters north of the border following his eventual Restoration to the throne of the three kingdoms in 1660. So in the following 25 years he made no effort to travel back to the kingdom of his fathers, in much the same fashion as his grandfather, James I and VI, after he acceded to the unified throne in 1603.
Charles II signs up to the Covenant
To be fair there were many other matters to demand his attention during this time; the first, second and third Dutch wars, the Great Plague of London, the Great Fire of London and his determined efforts to achieve some degree of emancipation for English Catholics to name but a few.
The Great Fire of London….amongst Charles II’s concerns
Charles’ good lady wife, Catherine of Braganza, fell pregnant on a number of occasions but sadly none of these ended successfully. And since the fourteen odd illegitimate offspring that the “Merry Monarch” was able to produce could not inherit the throne the succession duly passed to James. If the loyal citizens of Scotland had thought that Charles’ reign had been a disappointment then they would soon find that there were new depths of dismay to be tholed.
If Charles was somewhat disconnected from affairs in Scotland the new monarch was considerably more familiar with matters Scots having set up in residence in Holyrood way back in 1679 when Charles had taken suddenly and seriously ill and a political storm had blown up in England over a Catholic being next in line to the throne. Irony abounds. James had been made a member of the Scottish Privy Council and rapidly came to take a dominant position on this august body which ruled the country on a day to bay basis in the King’s name.
Dundee had little involvement with Charles during his reign but had long enjoyed the patronage of James, from when he was first recommended to him by William of Orange following Dundee’s service in the Dutch Army. In due course, Dundee became a friend and close advisor to the then Duke of York. Sadly James took advice from many and was unable to distinguish between the good and the bad.
James II & VII when still the Duke of York