The Army Of James Ii, 1685-1688. The Birth Of The British Army

Ede-Borrett, Stephen
Date published: 
March 2017

Between James’ accession in February 1685 and flight in December 1688, the British Armies increased fourfold: the English, Scots and Irish Armies were still separate institutions – and were to remain so until the early 18th century in the case of the Scots, and the early 19th century in the case of the Irish. In 1689, the new King – William III – kept James’ army into being and, within a few years, it was to become the army which led the victories at Blenheim and elsewhere of the Great Duke of Marlborough, who had himself been a general in James’ army. It has been said that amongst William’s reasons for accepting the British Crowns was a fear that the British Army would serve in alliance with Louis XIV against him; despite this, James’ part in the creation of the British Army is often deliberately overlooked or ignored. The political aspects of James’ reign – and thus of the army – are well covered in numerous works, but this book looks at the creation of the enlarged armies of England, Scotland and Ireland; their uniforms and flags, organisation and weapons; their drill and their strength; their pay and their staff. Researched primarily from contemporary documents and manuscripts – including those in the rarely accessed Royal Library at the Royal Archives, Windsor – it will go a long way to restoring these years (and the last Stuart King) to their true importance in the creation of the British Army.