Hall of Fame Member
- Oct 9, 2004
King James VII (of Scotland), James II (of England)
Setting the Stage
The term Jacobite is the name commonly given to English and Scottish supporters of the exiled Stuart dynasty, in particular the Roman Catholic line of these Kings. The name is derived from Jacobus, the Latin name for King James VII, the last Stuart King to sit on the British throne. Although the' 45 rebellion (1745) gains most of the attention in this period's history the Revolution actually started on April 4, 1689. For it was on this date a convention parliament declared that James VII forfeited the Scottish throne.
It was a time of great chaos in the British Isles, as there were numerous political and religious groups vying for power in the country. They consisted of the Catholic, Protestant, and Presbyterian religions that were even further refined by the political alignments of Whig, Tory, Roundhead, Royalist, and numerous other factions.
King Charles II had understood the need for tolerance during this time of political upheaval, and had managed to prosper with his restoration to the Crown after the Cromwell experience. But his brother, James VII, who apparently understood this need for tolerance, did not balance it against his natural desire for the security of his government.
James VII came to power as King of Scotland and England in 1685, after the death of his brother. He was quickly forced to deal with a revolt, which centered on the claims of his nephew, the illegitimate son of Charles II, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. The revolt was quickly put down, but James was severe in his punishment of the participants. In his desire for personal security, James decided to maintain a standing army. He further helped his cause by installing many Roman Catholics into positions of authority in the army and government. While this move seemed a proper choice, it served to aggravate the situation, as many feared that the army would swoop down on any faction seen as opposing the King, religious or otherwise.
The King himself was Roman Catholic, while most of the country was Protestant. In 1688, two things happened which sparked a revolt and the later eviction of King James from Great Britain. First there was the birth of a son and heir to the throne, and secondly, King James put into law the "Declaration of Indulgence". The Declaration allowed Catholics and dissenters (any religion besides Protestant) to worship freely and was quite a revolutionary law for its time. But the move was seen as an increase in power and threat to the Protestants. In response, those against James VII invited William of Orange to England.
William was a Protestant by religion and the husband of Mary, eldest daughter of James and therefore son-in-law to the King. William landed in England in November 1688 and with his arrival most of the standing army of England deserted to his side. The King, James VII, was forced to retreat from England in fear of his life, taking his newborn son with him. England quickly stabilized in this transference of power, which was named the Glorious Revolution because of the lack of bloodshed, but Scotland was thrown into complete chaos.
Most of Scotland was Roman Catholic, and heavily favored James VII as their rightful King. But in the south of the country, the populace largely consisted of the Convenanters (a Presbyterian group). The Convenanters quickly gained control of the Scottish Parliament (under the threat of violence) and issued the "Claim of Right" which condemned James for his actions and consisted of three basic parts:
*James had forfeited the Crown by deserting his country.
*No 'Papist' (Roman Catholic) could be King.
*That "Prelacy and superiority of any office in the Church above Presbyters, is, and hath been a great and insupportable grievance and trouble to this Nation".
The matter was further fueled by the fact that France and Spain were both Roman Catholic countries at the time. The two countries were England's enemies and the Jacobite or Scottish sympathizers (Roman Catholics also) were therefore considered enemies of England. By this means, the stage was set for a revolution, a Jacobite revolution that would cover a period of almost sixty years, and although repeatedly unsuccessful, would greatly affect the history of England, Scotland, and even Ireland.
The Jacobite Rebellion, although a battle of succession for the British throne, was also a battle of religion. England was mainly Protestant, while Scotland and Ireland were largely Roman Catholic. Add to this mix the Presbyterians of lower Scotland and the stage is set for war. And although the events are called a rebellion, the conflict was in fact a war of religion which encompassed all three countries (England, Scotland, and Ireland) during the period of 1689 - 1747. Sadly, its effects are still felt in Great Britain today.
The first battle of the 'religious war' took place in 1689. John Graham, Viscount Dundee raised the standard of James VII in April of that year. By July he had the support of most of the Highland Clans and clergy and molded these forces around a base force of cavalry, which he commanded. On July 27th, the Jacobites under John Graham met and defeated a larger government army under Mackay in the Pass of Killiecrankie near Pitlorchy. The Jacobites won, but John Graham himself was killed. Without his leadership, this rebellion quickly petered out after another battle at Dunkeld on August 21st, 1689.
But King James VII, although removed from power, was busy gaining money and support in France. In 1690, he landed in Ireland to actively wage war on William III in an attempt to regain his kingdom. He quickly amassed an army of 21,000 that was met by William with his own army of 35,000 on the banks of the Boyne River, on July 12. James Stuart was easily defeated and was forced to return to France and exile. In response to this battle an organization called the Orangemen was created. The Orangemen were supporters of the Protestant William and continue to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne victory annually on its anniversary.
King William III (the Prince of Orange) - as the first Hanoverian monarch, the Jacobites, who wanted the Stuarts back on the Throne, wanted rid of him.
Support for King James was largely subdued at this point in Ireland, while his support in Scotland was wounded but still alive. A revolution settlement in 1690 further enforced the Protestant cause when it endorsed Presbyterianism, much to the dismay of the Catholics. Some claim that the "Massacre at Glencoe" on February 13th, 1692 was a further effort to eliminate Jacobite supporters for King James. For a time at least, things died down, but were not by any means settled. The Protestant and Presbyterian religions were firmly in power and the prosecution of the Catholics continued almost unabated.
In 1701, James VII (James II of England) died and in response King Louis XIV of France (a Roman Catholic himself) declared that James Frances Edward Stuart was now the rightful King of England. He became James III of England or James VIII of Scotland to his supporters, but still lived a life in exile in France. In response to some calls in England and Scotland for his placement on the English throne the government in England passed the "Act of Settlement".
The Act of Settlement secured by law the succession to the English Crown to the House of Hannover in the Protestant faith, with one exception, that being any heir of birth of Queen Anne, the last of the Protestant Stuarts. Therefore the normal law of succession of the Crown was ignored, and a line of rightful heirs was removed because of their religion.
The Protestant and Presbyterian religions further increased their power with the Act of Union in 1707, but many Scotsmen complained openly to the loss of their country. In response, King James III led a half-hearted and scantly supported effort at invasion of Scotland in 1708, but was quickly forced to return to France.
Numerous small plots were hatched to return James to power, but these fell largely on the whims of Spain and France, which were the only countries with both the power and desire to unseat the Protestant rule of England. But the Jacobite cause was still strong in the heart of many a Scotsman, and the '15 and the '45 would soon prove this to be true.
The Jacobite Rebellion, which lasted over a period of almost sixty years, was a war of succession and religion. The Jacobites were largely Roman Catholics who supported the exiled Stuart dynasty against a Protestant and Presbyterian system that was in control of England, Scotland and Ireland. This final installment of the three-part story covers the time period between 1713 and 1747.
In March 1713, France and England signed the Treaty of Utrecht, a codicil of which forbid the French from continuing to harbor James Stuart III (James VIII in Scotland), the current leader of the Jacobite cause and a claimant for the throne of England. James was forced to seek refuge elsewhere and ended up living in Spain, where he continued to seek support.
In 1714, Queen Anne, the last of Protestant Stuart monarchs died. In her place, King George I came into power. George was viewed as a foreigner and his inability to speak English did not endear him to his critics. Many people were very dissatisfied with this arrangement, including the Earl of Mar, who was rebuffed when he went to meet with the new monarch. In response to this snub, the Earl responded by again raising the colours of the exiled Stuart kings.
This rebellion of the Jacobite cause led by the Earl of Mar began in 1715. By the end of September, most of the Highlands were in his control and his army numbered some 5,000 with more appearing daily. But all this was done without even notifying the King they were claiming to support. The "Old Pretender", King James III, was not even aware of the situation as of yet. Word was sent to the King, and the size of the force continued to grow. The Earl, with his growing army, moved to Perth and established his base there after taking the city.
Meanwhile another Jacobite army was forming to the south, The Old Pretender hearing the news began to make preparations for his trip to Scotland and his crowning. By early November, the northern Jacobite army numbered some 12,000, mostly Clansmen from the Highlands. The Earl then decided to march south where he soon met the army of the Duke of Argyll, the only remaining government troops in Scotland.
The Jacobite forces were mismanaged and split. The southern army marched south to raise Lancashire instead of turning on the Duke of Argyll's flank, while a much smaller force under the Duke defeated the larger northern army of the Jacobites at Sherrrifmuir on November 13th. The southern army was also met and defeated at Preston by other government forces in England. The Jacobites were forced to retreat to Perth, while still waiting for their leader to arrive. The "Old Pretender" finally arrived in Scotland on the 22nd of December after leaving fittingly enough from Dunkirk. But the matter was already settled, as the Duke of Argyll was already receiving reinforcements of experienced troops and was preparing an overwhelming force to march north. The King, James III, was again forced to retreat after spending a dismal six weeks in Scotland.
After facing this possibly disastrous rebellion, the English soon passed the Disarming Act of 1716, which forbade the Highlanders from owning weapons. Another abortive rebellion was attempted in 1719, when James III got some minor support from both the French and the Spanish after he married the daughter of the Polish King.
In the aftermath of the Risings of 1715 and 1719 Major General George Wade was appointed to investigate conditions in the Highlands by the English. The main results of this were the building of better roads, so troops could move more easily, and the building of the major forts of Fort Augustus and Fort William.
The Polish bride of the Old Pretender quickly gave James III two sons: the eldest, Prince Charles, was born in Italy somewhat prophetically on the last day of the year 1720. His brother, Henry, was born on March 6th, 1725. The Stuart cause passed to the older of the two boys, who led the Scottish armies again during the '45 as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.
But this final Jacobite rebellion was also doomed to failure by lack of intelligence and poor leadership after many successes. This final rebellion ended at Culloden, a total disaster for the Scots, and Prince Charlie barely escaped. This ended the Jacobite Rebellions forever, as the English quickly passed many Acts against the Highlanders.
In retrospect, the Jacobite Rebellions are a reminder of man's fear of those who are different. It was largely a war of religion, fought for reasons that have no real bearing on the peaceful lives of those who fought in it, even though the participants thought so. The Rebellions of '15 and '45 could have ended much differently, as they had surprise and superior forces working in their favor. But they simply lacked the leadership to effectively take advantage of the situation.
Unfortunately, this episode in history continues to cause problems for the remaining Celtic nations. The Orangemen and the Catholics continue to fight, although any reason to continue this feud has passed long ago. Maybe some day, the remaining Celtic people will learn to live with each other, instead of fighting over matters which have little bearing on their day to day lives.