Henry – The Other Stuart

Most of history remembers Bonnie Prince Charlie and his romanticised attempt to take back the Stuart throne for his father, but little is mentioned about his brother, Henry Benedict Stuart, who was the final public Jacobite heir to the Stuart throne.

Today we take a closer look at Henry and discover more about his history….

Firstly his name was not simply Henry Benedict Stuart, it was in fact Henry Benedict Thomas Edward Maria Clement Francis Xavier Stuart, but that’s a little long to keep saying so for now we’ll make do with Henry. Henry was born on 6th March 1725 in Palazo Muti in Rome and was baptised by Pope Benedict XIII on the same day. From birth he was known as the Duke of York and he was apparently a rather intelligent child who could spell and write better than his older brother Charles.

Henry Benedict Stuart aged 13

In 1745 Henry travelled to France to help gain French support for Charles expedition and was there when Charles escaped in 1746 to greet him when he returned to France. By all accounts Henry appears to have been more introverted than Charles and more cautious in his approach to problems. However, he did manage to secure French troops and ships to support the ’45 but ongoing delays meant they never reached Scotland in time to aid his brother. Consequently many Jacobites felt he had not done enough to support the Jacobite cause and his lack of aid was a source of friction between the brothers.

The brothers relationship became more strained when, on return to Rome, Henry persued his desires to become a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Charles has tried not to emphasise his familys Catholicism, fearing it would prevent the Protestants in Britain from joining his cause, and therefore he was not particularly pleased with Henrys descision to join the church. Henry was ordained as a Cardinal Deacon on 30th June, 1747 and was very committed in his duties becoming Cardinal of Santa Maria, Portici, on 3rd July, 1747, before being ordained as a priest on 1st September, 1748.

Circle of Anton Raphael Mengs, Henry Benedict Maria Clement Stuart, Cardinal York (ca 1750) -002.jpg
Henry Benedict Stuart

Henrys father James, the Old Pretender, fully supported his sons desire to become a priest but personal relationships began to come between the father and son. Henry became very close with his majordomo, Giovanni Lercari, and this led to serious family tension eventually resutling in Henrys father attempting to have Lercari dismissed from service. Henry responded by attempting to seperate his finances from his father and a public scandal was only avoided by the input of Pope Benedict XIV who acted as a peace maker. Whilst some suggest there was more to the relationship than meets the eye nothing was ever proven and many have pointed to Henrys strict views against all impropriety to refute any allegations.

Henry and Charles would also reconcile with the help of Charles daughter Charlotte and it was Henry who to to convince Charles to stop drinking and offered him financial support in his later years. On the death of Prince Charles, Henry became the Jacobite claimant to the throne and apparently declared himself Henry IX but did not take any action to persue his claims. For most of the next forty years Henry lived in the town of Frascati just south of Rome where he was known as a very active bishop who led a simple life and is remembered for his acts for charity.

The Stuart memorial in St Peters Basilica in Rome

When Henry died in 1807 he was buried along with his brother, father and mother in the crypt of St Peters Basilica in Rome. He was succeeded in all his claimed British rights by his nearest blood-relative and friend, Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia. Charles was the great-grandson of Henrietta Anne, the youngest daughter of Charles I but neither asserted nor renounced his Jacobite claims, nor have any of his successors to this day.

Henry certainly followed a different path to his brother Charles and is largely remembered for his work in the Catholic Church eventually becoming Dean of the College of Cardinals in Rome and Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri.

Hopefully this little insight has piqued your curiosity about the often forgotten Henry Stuart and as always please like, follow, share, comment, tweet, reblog and keep coming back for more intriguing stories.

All the best, K & D.

The Battle of Prestonpans

On 21st September 1745 the Battle of Prestonpans took place between the Jacobite and Government armies. This battle is one of the most well know of the battles of the ’45 Uprising and yet it is estimated to have lasted less than ten minutes. So, how did this battle come to be and why was all the action over in ten minutes?

We begin on 17th September 1745 when the Jacobite army captured Edinburgh. The city gate at Netherbow Port was opened to let a coach through and seizing the opportunity Jacobites rushed the sentries and gained control of the city. The next day Prince Charles’ father was proclaimed King James VIII at the Mercat Cross and Charles entered the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Whilst at Edinburgh Prince Charles encouraged the city’s churches to remain open on Sundays and for normal Presbyterian services to continue as a show of the religious tolerance he had promised. His pleas however fell on deaf ears and all but a handful of churches remained closed throughout the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh.

With the Jacobites in the city the Government army began its advance determined to take back Edinburgh. The long column with its train of artillery and baggage wagons extended for several miles and attracted many country people to the unusual spectacle. On the 19th September they camped at Haddington where they went in search of a meal, but, before they sat down the drums beat to arms and the men hurried back to their regiments ready to face the enemy. However, this was soon discovered to be a false alarm which, it was alleged, had followed the coach of Hon. Francis Charteris and his newly-wedded wife to their home. This rumour may have been true as the bride was a daughter of the Duchess of Gordon who had Jacobite sympathies; the husbands elder brother, Lord Elcho, was with the Prince and indeed the husband himself had subscribed to the cause.

The nexy day the Government army were surprised to learn the Jacobite army were heading out of the city to meet them. General Sir John Cope commander of the Government forces decided to wait for them at Preston where the flat unobstructed ground would hopefully suit his troops, in particular the dragoons and the Forth estuary at their back prevented any flanking manoevers by the Jacobites. That night the Jacobites moved forward under the cover of the dark and mist.

Finally on the 21st September 1745 the two armies met.  Lord George Murray commanded the left wing of the Jacobites making a significant contribution to the victory by suggesting the army make use of a little known path through the marshland to surprise the Government army by coming up on their left flank. The men set out at about 4am and silently moved through the marshlands to the east of the Government men.  As dawn broke the Jacobites 2,000 men charged. The Government army wheeled around to face them but the men only manage to fire one shot before the Jacobties were upon them. As the Jacobties charged the Government fled overwhelmed by the attack.

General Cope tried to rally his men but they turned and fled without ever putting up a strong resistance. Cope then fled to Berwick leaving 500 men dead and over 1,000 men as prisoners. Meanwhile the Jacobites had less than a hundred men dead or wounded. When Cope reached Berwick he was supposedly ridiculed for being the only General who had ever brought first news of his own defeat.

After the battle Prince Charles would not allow any bonfires to be lit or church bells to be rung to mark the victory. Nobody was to be seen exalting in the suffering of those who had died or been wounded at the battle. Indeed Prince Charles delayed his leave of the battlefield to visit the injured and instructed that the dead received a proper burial. On the Government side, Lt General Henry Hawley replaced Cope as Commander in Chief of Scotland and it is said that Cope made a large amount of money by betting £10,000 Hawley would be defeated by the clans just as he had been.

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first major conflict of the 1745 Uprising and was an important victory for the Jacobties, giving them a boost in morale as they turned their thoughts to the South.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into the Battle of PRestonpans. As always please like, share, follow, comment and tell all your friends about us.

All the best, K & D

The Brodie Sword.

The Brodie Sword

This week we thought we’d take the chance to highlight one of the artifacts on display in our Culloden Exhibition and have chosen the Brodie Sword.

Reportedly commissioned and gifted by the Duke of Perth it is one of two swords and targes made for Prince Charles and his brother Henry. The sword would have been a symbol of power and used for display only, not as a weapon. The sword came to the Brodie family through the marriage of Elizabeth Brodie to George, 5th Duke of Gordon in 1813 with the tradition that it had been taken from the Princes baggage train after Culloden.

The sword is a basket-hilted broad sword from the 18th Century. The hilt is unmarked silver most likely of north European origin whilst the blade is German. The basket is a conventional shape outlined with rococo scrolls and is made from numerous small pieces cast in low relief and soldered together. It is highly decorative, and includes many symbols of Jacobitism, including the Medusa head.

The symbology on the basket is based on Greco/Roman mythology suggesting an intellectual owner. Symbols include two serpents forming the wrist guard for wisdom and guardianship, a lion  for royalty and a dolphin on the pommel to represent power of earth and sea.

The labrys or doubled headed axe (later used as a Fascist emblem) is a symbol of power and appears in the centre of faches (pronounced fatch-ey), a bundle of birch rods tied with a leather strappins. Faches were dipped in pitch and lit for use as a flaming torch. Their symbolic meaning is of power through unity and civilization/enlightment by force if necessary. Interestingly this is also where the term fachism comes form.

The medusa head was to strike fear into the enemy and was also a Jacobite symbol, in Greek myth if the medusas’ head was cut of the body would die but the head would continue to live, The Stuarts used this metaphor to infer that Britain would suffer without its natural head of state i.e. the Stuarts.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about this piece and you know where to come to see it in real life! As always please like, share, follow, tweet, comment and let us know if you’ve seen this sword or its brother, which is on display in Glasgow.

All the best, K & D

The Prince Comes to Scotland

270 years ago on the 23rd July 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart set foot on Scottish soil for the first time.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart

From his birth in Rome, Italy on 31st December 1720 Charles had the potential to be a threat to the Hanoverian throne. Indeed, on the night of his birth it is said Hanover was hit by a fierce storm and Gaelic poets proclaimed his birth as the saviour of his people. The early part of Charles’ life was spent with his brother Henry and during his youth he learnt to read fluently, could speak English, French and Italian, was a capable rider and could fire a gun with a good aim.

In 1737 Charles, under the title of Count Albany made a tour of the Italian cities with great reception and the attention this drew was not welcomed by the Hanoverian government. However, it was not until the following year, 1738, that the earliest notion of Charles trying his fortunes in Scotland appeared but he was refused permission and the next seven years were spent waiting and brooding on the subject.

On 9th January 1744 Prince Charles left Rome to make his way to Paris where he had been invited by Louis XV as they prepared to invade England. Charles, just 24 years old, rode in disguise first as a Neopolitan courtier and then as an officer in the Spanish army to reach Genoa. From here he sailed to Antibes and reached Paris on 8th February 1744 where he spent the next couple of months with the French invasion force preparing for the invasion of England. Unfortunately, on 24th February one of the worst storms in a century damaged the French transports, sinking twelve ships and putting five out of action. The French invasion was cancelled.

Disappointed Charles returned to Paris. Finally, in May of 1745 the French defeated the British at Fontenoy and Prince Charles, apparently fed up of talk and speculation, decided to act. In June he wrote to his father in Rome telling him he had been invited over to Scotland with arms and money to restore the crown to the Stuart line.

Charles borrowed money in Paris and bought a store of arms and ammunition and managed to secure passage on board the Du Teillay captained by a wealthy Irish merchant, Anthony Walsh. He also managed to enlist the aid of a French frigate, the Elizabeth to carry his military stores and convoy the Du Teillay across to Scotland.

At last on 22nd June 1745 the Du Teillay set off from the French coast and set off to Belle Isle to meet up with the Elizabeth. On 5th July both ships set forth for Scotland, but it was not to be an easy crossing. Just four days into the voyage an English frigate, the Lion, met them and engaged the Elizabeth. Unable to outrun the English ship the Elizabeth was forced to fight. On board the Du Teillay the Prince was apparently keen to join the action and help but Walsh ordered that the two frigates must fight it out alone. Over five hours later both the Elizabeth and the Lion were so badly damaged they were forced to retreat and return to their respective ports. Prince Charles had lost his convoy and the vast majority of his supplies and he was urged to go with the Elizabeth back to France. But, Charles refused and the Du Teillay sailed on towards Scotland.

Finally, on the 23rd July 1745 the Prince landed on the small island of Eriskay which lies between Barra and South Uist. Here he disembarked and laid his first foot on Scottish soil. One of the first men he met Alexander Macleod of Boisdale tried to encourage the Prince to return home. Prince Charles reply has gone down in history; ‘I am come home.’

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the background of Prince Charles and as always please like, share, tweet, follow and discover more about the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

All the best. K & D