jueves, 25 de diciembre de 2008

Jacobitism Part III: James III of England "The old pretender"


James III, Jacobite pretender from 1701 to 1766. Have he really reigned, his reign (At 64 years) would be the longest in British History, surprassing the 63 years reign of Queen Victoria

It is a pleasure to me to talk about such a great person as James III was, I'll try to be objective and be always the nearest to the reality as possible, but I can not occult that I really have an admiration for this romantic figure, the "King over the water" also known by its opponents as "The old pretender".

James Francis Edward Stuart was born on 10 June 1688 to the reigning monarch James II of England and his second wife, the italian princess Mary of Modena .The birth took place at St. James Palace, the very same place were his father was born almost fifty five years before on 1633.

Even James II had already two daughters born from his first marriage, both English and Scottish thrones were ruled by male-preference primogeniture on theirs succession systems, and thus the newly born became immediately the first on the line of succession to both thrones and as such Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Roteshay.

The english people feared at that times that a popist plot was behind their current monarchs, a generalized anti-catholic sentiment was prevalent at the moment, vissible in so many cultural expressions such as the very frequent mocks to the Catholic hierarchy, including the reigning pope.

With that huge problem behing the british thrones, the people simply was not willing to accept a Catholic Dynasty, the birth of James Francis Edward meant that the throne should continue in the catholic line of the Royal Stuarts, many peopke at the Parliament however meant that it was time to take action before the Catholic dynasty could establish itself.

Soon rumors started to circulate among the masses, discrediting the birth of the young James, rumors included the false statement that in fact the actual baby had been born dead and it was soon replaced by another false baby, this rumor quickly grew since there were no relevant courtesans or nobles present at the birth.


Mary of Modena, James' mother and Queen of England and Scotland

Soon the situation became very unstable at England, a revolution was coming and the throne of James was more unsure than ever, on 10 December of the very same year of 1688, when the baby James was barely six months old, Mary of Modena his mother, took him with her to France in order to search for a better place, while his father James II tried without any succes to retain its moribund Crown.

A few weeks later James II joined his wife and baby son, and in 1689 his eldest daughter was crowned (By the will of the parliament) as Queen Mary II of England in a co-reign with her husband William III of Orange, however many people (Including some major European powers) view this as a clear usurpation, believing that the Parliament had not the right to change the order of succession.

James II always had the firm conviction that some day he would recover his throne, and continued to sign documents as the reigning monarch, as explored in the previous entry, the group that formed arround him in order to bring support, became known as Jacobitism and the young prince James was the focus of all the Jacobite interest, it was in fact the bright hope of a futute restoration, had James Francis Edward died before his father, for sure the Jacobitism would have become dead with it, however he lived long enough.


James with his sister, Louisa Maria Theresa "The Princess over the water"

At France, James was recognized as the true heir to the English and Scottish thrones, and threated as a Prince of Wales. On 1692 when James was four years old, a baby sister was born to his father and mother, the beautiful girl was called Louisa Maria (Later the name Theresa was added, and she is now known more commonly as Louisa Maria Theres Stuart) and would become a companion to the young prince, numerous portraits were made showing both princes.

The prince grew then at the french court, with his parents and his only full-sister to survive infancy, who was styled as the "Princess Royal" or called by the jacobites as the "Princess over the water", during this times James began a very strict catholic education and learned both english and french.

On 16 september 1701, his father James II died when he was just thirteen years old, he immediately proclaimed himselg with the support of Louis XIV and several other major catholic monarchs, as James III of England and VIII of Scotland refusing to recognize his half brother-in-law William III as a monarch, and after 1702 also refusing to recognize his half-sister Anne.

After this the English Parliament oficially removed all of his British titles and accused him of High-Treason under the penalty of death, however all the Jacobite community (Including four catholic states) still addresed him as a Majesty and as the rightful King of both England and Scotland.


Queen Anne, half-sister of James III and also his rival for the throne

After James came to age, it was time to try to regain his lost throne, after a brief illness associated with measles, James tried to land at the Firth of Forth however he failed when a fleet led by Sir George Byng (Loyal to Queen Anne) forced the french ships (Supporting James) to retreat.

It was just the beginning of a tragic series of events to lead to the total betrayal and lost of hope to the still young James III. France was in the middle of a continental war, the War of Spanish succession trying to ensure that Philip, Duke of Ajou (Grandson of Louis XIV in the male line, and thus a Bourbon) was accepted as the new king of Spain succeeding the now extinc line of the Spanish Habsburgs.

On 1713 the peace came with the Treaty of Utretch in which England finally accepted Philip V as the king of Spain, however it cost among others things to France, that Louis XIV had to accept Anne as the true Queen of England, leaving James III without the so much needed recognition of the French Court.

The tories, a parliamentarian group held restorationist views and even supported to a some degree James III, however it was obvious that he had to rennounce to his catholic faith in order to be accepted as British Monarch, however James III strong in his ideals refused to do so, even it meant that he lost any real hope to regain his throne.


George of Hanover became in 1714 George I of Great Britain being the nearest protestant relative to the protestant Stuarts

In 1714 Anne died, and with her the protestant branch of the Royal Stuart family, by the Act of Settlement the throne passed to a german prince, skipping not only James but a bunch of at least another forty nearest relatives that were considered unfit to rule over Great Britain because of their catholic faith.

The german prince, elector of Hanover in his own right, became then George I of Great Britain (In 1707 the parliament merged the english and scottish kingdoms to create the new realm of Great Britain, however the jacobite heirs continued to style themselves kings of the separated realms of England and Scotland).

On 1715 (Known as "The fifteen" by Jacobites)James III made his last effort to recover his crown, finally landing at Scotland, however he was very much dissapointed by the lack of support that he found, he had planned a coronation at Scone, but decided to retreat and left before being captured by the Hanoverian troops.

He was not welcomed again at France, that very same year his patron and protector, Louis XIV, died and was succeded by his child great-grandson, Louis XV under the regency of Philip II, Duke of Orleans, which saw James as an embarrassment and did not let him to come back to Versailles.


Pope Clement XI received the Jacobite court at Rome, where it stayed until its final days

Affortunately for James, the reigning pope Clement XI offered James a pension and the palace of Mutti in Rome as his new ressidence, James immediately accepted the offer and established for the rest of his life at the Papal States, specialy at the eternal city of Rome.

It was there that on 1719 James contracted marriage with the polish princess, Maria Clementina Sobieska,a granddaughter of the polish king John III Sobieski, trying to ensure the continuation of the Royal Stuart catholic line, one year later came the first child, that for the great pleasure of all the Jacobite community, resulted to be a babyboy, that was called Charles Edward, and would later become known as the Bonnie Prince Charlie and The young Pretender by its opponents (Of course a full entry would be dedicated to this beloved prince).


Maria Clementina Sobieska, Consort to James III and Queen of England and Scotland for Jacobites

Five years later came the second and last son of the marriage, Henry Benedict Stuart, that would become cardinal and Jacobite King in it's own right, and that for the sadness of the general Jacobite communite was to be the very last member of the Royal Stuart family.

The marriage of James and Clementina was a sorrowful one, totally unhappy and a big failure, Clementina accused James of adultery and soon after the birth of Henry Benedict, she decided to leave her husband and live at a local monastery, it would take two years before a reconciliation could came.

Clementina was prone to depression and as a fervant catholic he spent much of her time praying, distanced of both her husband and children. She would die in 1735, at the very early age of 32 years, recognized as the true and legitime Queen of both England and Scotland, she was interred with full royal honours at the St Peter's Basilica at Rome.

James would never marry again, and in fact he felt in a perpetual state of lethargy, spending all his time at his palace surrounded by his "Jacobite court in the exile" that was mantained by the pension payed by the Papal States. In fact in 1743 formaly retired from "polithics" when he oficially invested his eldest son, Charles, as the "Prince Regent" thus giving him full powers to act in his name.

On 1745 (The famous Forty-Five) the young and handsome, Charles Edward, made the last serious effort to recover the British thrones for his father, even he came closer to success than his father's 1715 invassion, he eventualy failed and all the factual hopes for an eventual Jacobite restoration were effectively destroyed.


Tomb of James III at St.Peter's Basilica, shared with his two sons and successors

James would die on 1 January 1766, yes the very first day of the year 1766, he was buried at the St. Peter's Basilica as his wife. Thirteen days after his death, the papacy oficially decided to recognize the Hanoverian Dynasty as the true and legitime rulers of Great Britain.

On the next entry I will talk about Louisa Maria Theresa, sister of James III, even little information is available, she well worths an entry, being an important Jacobite figure by her own right.