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.

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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.

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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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THERE LIVED IN THIS PALACE

HENRY, DUKE LATER CARDINAL OF YORK

WHO, SURVING SON OF JAMES III OF ENGLAND

TOOK THE NAME OF HENRY IX

IN HIM IN THE YEAR 1807

THE HOUSE OF STUART EXPIRED

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All the best,

The Culloden Team

 

 

 

 

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