April 24, 2003

James II (Partially) Vindicated?

Be still my Jacobite heart.

Yeah, I'm part Jacobin, part Jacobite. I will not speak of a "Glorious Revolution," the principles of which I basically support. I call it the "Revolution of 1688." It's my Irish Catholic upbringing: the iron entered the soul.

Via Rebecca Goetz (Tueday, April 22, permalink bloggered), Scott Sowerby, a history graduate student at Harvard, finds evidence suggesting that James II really did support religious toleration. The Whig narrative: the Catholic James II spoke of toleration for Quakers and Catholics, but would have shown his true colours -- his true, continentally Catholic and absolutist and "divine right of kings" autocratic colours -- had he been allowed to sit on the throne. For what it's worth, Sowerby finds an entry in James II's personal diary that reads as follows:

"Suppose there should be a law made that all black men should be imprisoned, it would be unreasonable. We have as little reason to quarrel with other men for being of different opinions than as for being of different complexions."

Like Rebecca, I look forward to Sowerby's book.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at April 24, 2003 02:50 AM