22 April 2003

Not King Arthur...But King James II

I know everyone thinks of James II as the king who failed and...ran away. He was an absolutist and a religious bigot to boot. Well, my friend and fellow grad student Scott Sowerby has proved us all wrong.

According to the Harvard Gazette:

Sowerby's most striking piece of evidence is a diary he found in a small, obscure record office in northern England in which the diarist recorded a speech made by James. In the speech, the king makes a striking comparison between racial and religious toleration.

"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."

As far as he knows, Sowerby is the first scholar to read this diary. Discovering the transcription of the king's speech was an electrifying experience.

"I got chills down my spine. I had to stop working for about a half-hour. It's important because he's made a mental leap that few others had made at the time."

Wow. I can't wait to read Scott's book!


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