The Old Pretender

James Francis Edward Stuart was nicknamed ‘the Old Pretender’ after his father was deposed and the throne of Scotland and England was passed to William and Mary. Here we take a look at his life.

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James VIII & III

 

James was born on 10th June 1688 at St James’s Palace in London and his birth was controversial to say the least. James was the son of existing king James VII & II and his second wife, Mary of Modena. James would be a Catholic heir to the throne of Scotland and England and this was not something that was favourably look upon. Almost as soon as he was born rumours began to spread that James was an impostor. It was believed that the true child had been a stillborn and James was smuggled in in a warming pan to replace the sadly deceased baby. James’ father was forced to publish several eyewitness testimonies to put a stop to these rumours and assure everyone that James was indeed their son and heir.

Less than a year after James’ birth the Glorious Revolution began with William of Orange arriving from Holland to contest the throne. On 9th December 1688 James’ mother Mary, supposedly disguised as a laundress, escaped Britain taking James over to the relative safety of France. It was here that he was brought up with the French court regarding him and his family as the true monarchs.

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The Old Pretender

 

When James’ father died in 1701 King Louis XIV of France along with Spain and the Papal States recognised James as James VII of Scotland and III of England. However, as a result of accepting this title he was attainted for treason in London and all his English estates were forfeited. The next twenty years would see James make various attempts to retake the throne which he felt was rightfully his.

In 1708 his first attack was launched. Initially delayed because James had contracted measles he set out from France with almost 30 ships carrying some 5,000 men to reach Scotland. This would be the largest ever French expedition to come within striking distance of Britain in support for James. Unfortunately, as the fleet approached the Royal Navy were ready. James’ measles may have given them the time needed to prepare for James’ attack. The French ships were forced to flee under the strength of the Royal Navy and took flight along the north coast of Scotland, with many ships being destroyed along the rocky coastline. After this James joined the French army for a while before he was asked to leave France in 1713 as part of the conditions of Frances peace agreement with Britain.

In 1715, James tried again. This time he reached mainland and most people suggest that this was the uprising that should have worked. See our blog on 1715 for more info. Unfortunately, once again James was denied. Despite winning at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, and in Preston, James ultimately gave up the fight when he heard Government reinforcements were on the way. He fled Scotland and returned to the continent but his apparent abandonment of his men left a poor impression on many and his welcome back was not great.

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James VIII & III

 

After the failed 1715 invasion he eventually took up residence in Rome where the pope recognised him as the rightful king and gave him the Palazzo Muti to have as his home. James made one finally attempt on the British throne in 1719 with some Spanish support but this ultimately came to nothing. Then in May 1719 James married Maria Sobieska by proxy and later, in September, they renewed their vows in person. The following year they gave birth to their first son Charles Edward Stuart. This was followed five years later by another son Henry Benedict Stuart.

By 1745 it was Charles who was looking to take the British throne and it is said that James and Charles clashed many times over Charles plans to attempt his own rising. As we know the rising did not succeed and Charles returned to the continent. The relationship was further damaged when James helped his son Henry in his goal of becoming a cardinal. AS such Henry would have no legitimate children to carry on the Stuart line and Charles was said to be angry that the decision had been made without him being consulted.

James lived in Rome for the rest of his life where he was well treated. He died on 1st January 1766 in his home at the Palazzo Muti. Later he was buried in St Peters basilica in Vatican city and his tomb is marked by a monument to the Stuarts. After James’ death the Pope refused to recognise Charles as the rightful king and finally accepted the Hanoverian succession to the throne.

Interestingly James ‘reign’ had it been recognised would have lasted for 64 years, 3 months and 16 days longer than any other monarch until Queen Elizabeth passed this total in May this year.

We hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the life of James and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep coming back for more.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

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The 1719 Rebellion

We here at Culloden tend to put most of our focus of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, but there were a few risings before this that are worth taking a look at. We explored the 1715 Rising in our earlier post ‘1715 – The Rebellion that should have Worked’ but today we look at the small rising of 1719.

With Britain at relatively peace with France the Jacobites found a new ally for this rising, Spain’s minister to the King, Cardinal Guilio Alberoni. Tensions were high between Spain and Britain as Philip V of Spain launched successful campaigns taking control of Sardinia and Sicily. In 1718 Britain responded declaring a violation of the Utrecht Treaty which then led to Spain declaring war on Britain. In order to try and stop, or at least delay, an attack Alberoni decided to stir up trouble in Britain.

The original Jacobite plan had two phases. A small fleet would land in Scotland and raise support in the west to distract the British army and then the larger fleet would land in South West England to march to London and dethrone King George I. The main fleet set sail but, three weeks after leaving Spain, they encountered a storm which damaged many of the ships and left the fleet scattered. The ships were forced back to several Spanish ports to repair and wait for better weather.

Unfortunately, by this time the small distraction fleet had already set sail and landed on the west coast of Scotland near Lochalsh. The men disembarked and set about raising the highland clans to join them. But, alas, another set back. Highlanders did not join the army in the numbers expected, they were wary of the plan and wanted to wait for news from the south before they committed to the cause. The men did not have enough support to make their way to Inverness and were forced to establish headquarters in the west at Eilean Donan Castle.

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Eilean Donan Castle

 

At the beginning of May 1719, the Royal Navy sent five ships along the coast to inspect the Scottish coastline. Two patrolled off Skye whilst three headed to Lochalsh. On 10th May the latter three ships, HMS Worcester, HMS Flamborough and HMS Enterprise anchored off Eilean Donan and as evening fell the ships boat went ashore and captured the castle against very little resistance. It is said they then spent the next two days demolishing the castle with some 27 barrels of gunpowder. The Jacobites were not defeated though. Much of the main force of the army, including Spanish troops, had left Eilean Donan to try and recruit more men to their cause and were on their way to Inverness.

After travelling for more than a month the Jacobite forces learnt that the main Spanish fleet would not be coming to help them. They had a little over 1,000 troops but were determined to fight. 12 miles from Eilean Donan they took defensive positions at Glen Shiel, a narrow valley which they had reinforced with basic fortifications to block the road as the Government army marched out from Inverness to meet them. In the afternoon of 10th June 1719 the Government forces made their move. Though the armies were fairly evenly matched in size the Government had the added benefit of four mortar batteries.

In an attempt to weaken the enemy, the Government first used the mortars to bombard the Jacobite position. The infantry then came forward to attack the Jacobite flanks, whilst they continued to shell the enemy centre. This kept the Spanish troops pinned down in their defences on the northern slopes of the glen. After three hours of stubborn resistance, the Jacobites were eventually driven from their defensive position and forced into retreat. The Spanish men surrendered later that evening with the local highlanders fleeing to escape execution as traitors.

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The Battle of Glen Shiel by Peter Tillemans

The Jacobite lost roughly 100 men and three of their commanders, the Earl of Seaforth, Robert Roy MacGregor and Lord George Murray who was badly injured. When the expected support from the Lowlanders failed to materialise spirits fell and the rising was abandoned.

The Spanish prisoners were taken to Edinburgh but were eventually released back to Spain later the same year. However, one of the peaks of the mountain in Glen Shiel on which the battle took place was named Sgurr nan Spainteach which translate as ‘The Peak of the Spainiards’ in honour of the Spanish forces who fought admirably in the battle.

We hoped you enjoyed this little foray into the 1719 Rising. As always please comment, like, share, tweet and keep coming back to discover more about the many tales of the Jacobite Uprisings.

All the best, K & D