The Palazzo Muti: 18th Century Stuart Court

Located in the Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, Rome, the Palazzo Muti Papazzurri (also known as the Palazzo Balestra) is an important place for those interested in Jacobite history; technically, there is more than one building that has the title Palazzo Muti, but together they formed a complex, and the Papazzurri was the central base. In the 18th century it was the permanent residence of the exiled James Francis Edward Stuart, and as such it was known as the Palazzo de Rei – The King’s Palace.


James Francis Edward Stuart succeeded to the Jacobite claim in 1701. His father, the deposed James VII and II, had been given residence in France and treated as a king by Catholic Monarch Louis XIV from his deposition up until his death. Things were different, however, for James Francis; after an unsuccessful Jacobite Rising in 1715, he returned to France and found that he was no longer welcome. Louis XIV had died and the French Government refused to offer further assistance. James Francis travelled around, and then Pope Clement XI offered him a home at the Palazzo Muti.

James Francis married Maria Sobieska in 1719 and Pope Clement considered them the true King and Queen of Britain. In addition to the Palazzo Muti, he also provided James with papal protection, a villa in the country and an annuity of 12,000 crowns. The Palazzo Muti functioned like a court, with painters gaining patronage, new works by composers being performed for James and meetings with people from abroad. Apart from once in 1719, there was not another serious attempt to overthrow the Hanoverians until 1745.


Charles Edward Stuart, James and Maria’s first child, was born in 1720; five years later, Maria gave birth to a second son who was named Henry Benedict. The relationship of James and Maria became more and more strained as time went on, and by the time of her death in 1735, they had spent much of their time apart. Both sons were brought up as Princes, with the focus on Carluccio, as his father called him, as heir.

After the defeat at Culloden in 1746, Charles Edward Stuart travelled around Europe, and Henry Benedict was made a Cardinal. James Francis died in 1766, and although Pope Clement XIII allowed him to be given a state funeral, he refused to recognise Charles Edward as King. Charles was allowed to keep the Palazzo Muti, but the papal guard was removed, and so was the royal coat of arms. Charles Edward died there in 1788. Henry Benedict attempted to arrange for his brother to receive a royal funeral and burial at St Peter’s Basilica, where their mother and father had been buried, but he was refused.

Henry Benedict died in 1807. Near the courtyard of the Palazzo Muti complex, there is a plaque in remembrance of him. Below is its English translation.








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The Culloden Team





Stirling and the Jacobites

A short while ago we wrote a blog post detailing some notable Jacobite events that took place in the city of Edinburgh; today we thought we would continue in the same vein with a post about Stirling (and some surrounding areas) and its Jacobite history.

The deposed James VII of Scotland and II of England and Ireland died in 1701. Since his deposition in 1688, which had been made official in 1689, the Jacobites had been attempting without success to get him restored to the throne. His son James Francis Edward Stuart succeeded him to the Jacobite claim.

In 1707 the Acts of Union merged the Scottish and English Parliaments, and Stirling Castle became one of the four Scottish fortresses to be permanently garrisoned by troops of the new British army. During the Jacobite Rising of 1715, an attempt was made by the Jacobites to take control of Stirling Castle.

The Jacobite Rising of 1715 is commonly referred to as The Fifteen, but also sometimes as Lord Mar’s Revolt. John Erskine, Earl of Mar, had been involved in the developments that led to the Acts of Union. By 1714 his opinion on the matter had changed; this, combined with a public snub from the new King, Hanoverian George I, led him to raise the Stuart standard and declare for James Francis Edward Stuart at Braemar in September 1715.

Mar managed to gather more than 10,000 men to the cause, and he and the army travelled around Scotland in a bid to gain control. An attempt to occupy Edinburgh Castle was unsuccessful, but he managed to gain control of most of northern Scotland by November. Stirling Castle remained the most northerly garrisoned castle, and so the Earl of Mar and the (around 8000) troops marched towards Stirling with the intention of taking it.

A small Government army (around 3000), headed by the Duke of Argyll, was waiting and intercepted them at Sherrifmuir, near Dunblane (around five miles from Stirling), and the two armies fought. The result of the Battle of Sherrifmuir was considered inconclusive; the Government army did lose more men, but the Jacobite army needed an outright victory to go on and take Stirling Castle. Around the same time, Inverness was captured by Government soldiers, and Jacobites surrendered at the Battle of Preston.

This combination of events so close to one another pretty much ended the Jacobite Rising of 1715. It carried on for a few months longer, but by the time James Francis Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland, the momentum had been lost, and he soon returned to France.

As time passed, James Francis Edward Stuart became known to some as The Old Pretender, and in 1745 his son Charles Edward Stuart travelled to Scotland to rally support and fight on behalf of his father. After spending time in Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Jacobites had marched to England expecting new recruits. The trip was disappointing, and Charles and his army returned to Scotland.

At the beginning of 1746, having failed to occupy Edinburgh Castle a few months earlier, the Jacobites decided to besiege Stirling Castle, which was under the control of Major General Blakeney. To assist Blakeney, Lieutenant General Henry Hawley brought 7000 men to fight the Jacobites. The two armies fought at Falkirk Muir, and the Jacobites were victorious.

As the Government army had suffered a loss at Prestonpans under Sir John Cope, an immediate result of the attempt to besiege Stirling Castle and the Battle it resulted in was the arrival of the Duke of Cumberland to take charge of the Government troops.

The Jacobites ultimately abandoned their siege of Stirling Castle. They instead decided to go north to their Highland lodgings and renew the campaign in the spring.

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All the best, The Culloden Team