The Army of James II, 1685-1688

The Birth of the British Army

Stephen Ede-Borrett

Date Published :
October 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
over 60 b/w ills, 8pp colour ills incl. uniforms, flags & paintings, 12 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781911512363
Pages : 208
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7.25 inches
In stock


Between James’ accession in February 1685 and flight in December 1688 the British Armies increased four fold (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); from a small force of little more than ceremonial and policing use to a fully-fledged Army with all of its necessary supporting arms and services. Respected historian Correlli Barnett wrote: “It might well be said that if the British royal standing army was in fact founded at one given time, it was between 1685 and 1688, and that James II was the army’s creator.” James himself said his Army had “…the reputation of being the best paid, the best equipped and the most sightly troops of any in Europe.” At the time there were political complaints about illegality of a “new standing Army” with a “new Cromwellian military dictatorship” (and on a point of law a standing army was still illegal), in 1689 the new King, William III, kept James’ Army in 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, organization 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 Royal Archives at 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.

About The Author

Stephen Ede-Borrett has had an enduring interest in the military history and the armies of the seventeenth century for as long as he can remember, an interest that led him to join the Sealed Knot at the age of fifteen. He first developed a specific interest in the Army of James II at the time of the tercentenary of the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1985 - an interest that has never abated. He is the author of Lostwithiel 1644 : The Campaign and the Battle, the first full-length study of the campaign, as well as numerous articles in The Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Arquebusier, and in many military history and wargames magazines on such varied subjects as the ‘Drums of James II’s Army’ and the ‘Colours of the Amsterdam Civic Guards in the 17th Century’; he has also edited new editions of the Letters of Neremiah Wharton, de Gomme’s Account of the Storm of Bristol and the Iter Carolinum of Charles I. He is currently the Honorary Chairman of The Pike and Shot Society and a member of a number of historical societies and groups. His other major interests are movies, international cricket and superhero comics, oh and the cats that allow him and his partner Mary to share their home. He lives in what he considers to be the greatest city on the World – London. He says he isn’t biased in that opinion.


" … This work is essential reading…”

- Arquebusier, Journal of the Pike and Shot Society

"There is new information all the way through this book, and the organisation will allow for anyone to dip in and out when they are just after a specific piece of information. and I believe this is going to become a must have for anyone with even a vague interest in the subject, the author has managed to dismiss a number of the myths regarding the Army of King James II.”

- Wargames Illustrated

"As someone who always believed that Cromwell's New Model Army was the foundation of the modern British fighting force, this book comes as something of a revelation!"

- Books Monthly

" … This is a delightful book, by an expert author who has done considerable fresh research in the Royal Archives at Windsor. Winner of the 'Miniature Wargames Recommends' medal for November 2017.”

- Miniature Wargames

" … This fascinating book goes a long way to give the British Army of the late 17th century the recognition it deserves.”

- Military History Monthly

"A book for the expert and the interested amateur alike, no serious student of the British Army in the seventeenth century should be without it.”

- Battlefield Magazine

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