Monday, 7 December 2009

Strange Monuments 2

(Click to enlarge) Standing in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is this rather curious depiction of King James II. He appears as a surprisingly convincing Roman military man- incongruously since he was to lose both the throne, being chased out during the so-called "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, and his subsequent attempt to recover it. He is remembered as our last Catholic monarch but it is less frequently recalled that the British colonists in North America named the formerly Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam after him (he had been Duke of York). Here ironies abound because the treacherous Parliament invited the Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange, to invade, offering him the crown. James's error lay in failing to recognise that England had long been ruled by a conspiracy of rich men in whose interest the king was expected to rule.

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