Saturday, 10 June 2017

10‭ ‬June‭ ‬1688:‭ ‬James Francis Edward Stuart,‭ ‬aka‭ ‘‬King James III of England and VII of Scotland‭’ ‬was born on this day.‭ ‬He was born at St James Palace,‭ ‬London.‭ ‬He was the only legitimate son of James II by his wife Mary of Modena.‭ ‬His birth triggered a Constitutional Crises in these islands as he was baptised a Catholic and stood to inherit his fathers‭’ ‬Realms in due course.‭ ‬Later that year occurred the‭ ‘‬Glorious Revolution‭’ ‬and the deposition and flight of James II to France.‭

‬It was rumoured that the actual infant died at birth and a substitute was surreptitiously brought into the birth chamber inside a Warming Pan.‭ ‬While this is almost certainly a piece of propaganda spread by the enemies of his father such rumours undermined his status in England in particular when he reached maturity.‭ ‬His birth thus triggered a series of actions that led to the‭ ‘‬War of the Two Kings‭’ ‬that was fought upon the soil of Ireland between‭ ‬1689‭ ‬and‭ ‬1691.

On the death of James II in‭ ‬1701‭ ‬he proclaimed himself King James III.‭ ‬He was recognised by the followers of the Stuart Cause as the legitimate successor to his father’s Kingdoms.‭ ‬He was also acknowledged as such by a number of Continental Powers incl. France‭ & ‬Spain.‭ ‬He also had many secret adherents within England,‭ ‬Scotland and Ireland.‭ ‬As a young man he saw action in the War of the Spanish Succession and twice attempted to establish himself upon the Throne.

‭ ‬In‭ ‬1708‭ ‬he was thwarted in a landing upon the coast of Scotland.‭ ‬His best chance came upon the death of Queen Anne in‭ ‬1714‭ ‬when the Crown was vacant and before George of Hanover‭ (‬a Protestant‭) ‬could arrive to take it.‭ ‬But delay proved fatal and James’s Scottish supporters only raised the banner of revolt in late‭ ‬1715.‭ ‬Their attempt,‭ ‬though initially well backed proved a Fiasco.‭ ‬By the time James landed in December support was ebbing away and after a few weeks he was forced to depart for the Continent.‭ ‬He never saw the island of his birth again.‭

Eventually he settled in Rome under the protection of the Papacy where he took up residence at the Palazzo Muti and held a Jacobite Court there with funds provided by the Vatican,‭ ‬the Spanish Monarchy and his supporters.‭ ‬He thereafter lived a long but frustrating life.‭ ‬He married Princess Maria Klementyna Sobieska of‭ ‬Poland in‭ ‬1719‭ ‬and had two sons by her.‭ ‬She however died in‭ ‬1733‭ ‬and he‭ ‬never remarried.‭ ‬He lived long enough to see his son‭ ‘‬Bonnie Prince Charlie‭’ ‬fail in his attempt to overthrow the Hanoverian Dynasty in‭ ‬1745/46.‭ ‬He was known in his years of Exile as the‭ ‘‬Old Pretender‭’ /‬‘‬The Old Chevalier’ to his enemies and‭ ‘‬The King over the Water‭’ ‬to his friends and admirers in these islands.‭ ‬He died in Rome on‭ ‬1‭ ‬January‭ [‬O.S.‭] ‬1766‭ ‬and is buried in St Peters, Rome.

In following such a record of broken hopes and unrelieved failure,‭ ‬the initial sense of disappointment‭ ‬yields gradually to a more temperate compassion.‭ ‬There is an indefinable pathos in the spectacle of this tragedy-‭ king,‭ ‬parading his solemn travesty of sovereignty before an unromantic and imperturbable audience.‭ ‬When it is‭ remembered that he lived to see no less than five sovereigns on the English throne,‭ ‬all of whom he had‭ been taught to regard as usurpers,‭ ‬it may help towards understanding how deeply the iron must have entered‭ into his soul.‭


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