The Army of James II, 1685-1688

The Birth of the British Army

Stephen Ede-Borrett

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


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

The Author has been fascinated by early military flags for as long as he can remember and made his first notes on those of the English Civil War at the age of fifteen! This fascination has never faded and was only enhanced by a long association with re-enacting the period. Over the years he has written a number of short studies of particular colours as well as three short studies of the Colours of Foot. He is proud to live in London with his partner Mary as guests of the cats who allow them to share it.


“ … This work is essential reading…”

- Arquebusier: Journal of the Pike & 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: the Magazine of the Battlefields Trust

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