Showing posts with label jacobite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jacobite. Show all posts

Friday, May 2, 2014

On the Legitimacy of Monarchs

One of the problems with this medium (of the media) is that new people come along and start reading but have no idea what has already been written about unless they go back through the archives beyond the front page. New readers are, of course, not a problem but it does mean that one is often questioned on a point covered in the past, at times covered repeatedly though the questioner is ignorant of this. I have tried to set things out in the “About” section and, of course, anyone can peruse the archives as they wish, yet, not everyone is going to do that. Many, the majority probably, will simply start with the front page and go from there. One such issue that comes up from time to time, more often than I would like certainly (hence the page devoted exclusively to the subject) is royal legitimacy. This is a subject your resident mad man finds increasingly tiresome and frankly, though it is perhaps flattering in a way, I am astounded that anyone would seek out a blogger for the ultimate and absolute definition of “truth” in the universe. It sounds absurd to put it like that, but that is often what it comes down to. The republican mentality and what the former Pope or Pope Emeritus or Co-Pope or whatever Benedict XVI is supposed to be now once called the tyranny of relativism has done its work well. Speaking of the Roman Pontiff, there once was a time when the legitimacy of any monarch, in Catholic eyes, depended on the endorsement of the Pope. Such is no longer the case as there are people who deny the legitimacy of the Pope while still calling themselves Catholics.

That underlies one reason why I refuse to start down the rabbit hole of arguments over royal legitimacy; because there is no end to it. Almost every single monarch still reigning in Europe has some group of people, no matter how small, denying their legitimacy to occupy their throne. And, for the one or two others, I dare say some of the arguments against other monarchs could be applied to them as well. There are some who even delight in feuding over the legitimacy of monarchs who are not even reigning and dynasties which have not actually held a throne in over a hundred years. What this is supposed to accomplish in the reality of the present remains a mystery to me. Two groups that have always stood out the most to me are the Jacobites of Great Britain and the Carlists of Spain. Both were monarchists for whom I have the utmost respect and the greatest sympathy. Had I been alive in their day, I would have certainly been among their ranks of supporters. In the case of the Jacobites, they resisted gallantly and fought like heroes. They were eventually defeated but they remain, for me at least, an honorable memory. In time, they realized that their cause truly was lost and reconciled themselves to the new royal line. The tiny minority today who has taken up their name and denies the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth II are, frankly, no better than republicans and by their very actions insult the legacy of the actual Jacobites.

I say that because, even in the days when actual Jacobites were still alive, men who had actually fought with “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, they recognized then that times were changing and the temper of society was not as it had been in the past. Many came to America and settled in the piedmont of North Carolina. When the American War for Independence broke out, there was no talk from these men of “German Georgie” but rather they rallied to the Crown and in support of King George III, recognizing that the monarchy under a different royal relation than they would have preferred, was far better than supporting godless republicanism. The Jacobites had, in a way at least, been fighting for the “Divine Right” but more or less since the victory of King William III, the Crown ruled by the right of Parliament. However, the American rebels were denying any right for a Crown at all, further than that, they were denying even a place for any Crown at all in national life. This was, obviously, something no Jacobite would find it easy to tolerate. If the people had turned against the very idea of monarchy; how on earth could they be expected to understand the significance of royal bloodlines and dynastic legitimacy?

The Jacobites remain, for me, an honorable memory and an example of truly steadfast monarchist loyalty. That in no way changes my view that the one and only monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is Queen Elizabeth II and that she should be supported and defended to the last measure. The public sentiment has changed quite drastically even from what it was in 1776, even in Britain. As I would assume most monarchists know, the legitimate heir to the Stuart royal line (which was what the Jacobites supported) is, today, Duke Franz of Bavaria. I assure you that the vast majority of people in Great Britain have never heard of the Duke, have no idea who he is and have absolutely no interest in bringing this elderly Bavarian royal bachelor over to London to become their monarch. As it happens, Duke Franz himself has never voiced any such desire either. From his actions it can be assumed that he would be perfectly happy to occupy the throne of a restored Kingdom of Bavaria were he to be asked, but no more than that just as no heir of the Stuarts has actually claimed the Crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland since the death of the last actual male descendants of King James II himself. The point is that, as things stand now, the only option besides a Great Britain and Northern Ireland under Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors is a Great Britain and Northern Ireland with no monarch at all, and it is as simple as that. The public mentality has changed and they no longer accept any legitimacy other than that bestowed by the public will. The monarchy remains because the public wish it to remain and they have not the slightest conception of even the mentality behind legitimacy based on royal bloodlines and this giving someone an inherent, God-given right to be the monarch of their country. That is simply the fact of the matter, deplorable though it may be. Carrying on that fight today would be rather like a Latin-mass traditional Catholic trying to convince a population of Buddhists of the invalidity of Vatican II. You have your priorities grossly out of order.

Next we come to the Carlists who are a very unique case to say the least of it. Here was a group of legitimists who lost the war, lost many wars in fact only to finally have their cause prevail in the end at which point they refused to accept victory and resumed the war (though only in words and mostly confined to the internet these days). In some ways, the Carlists remind me of the pro-Orange majority of the Church of England back in 1688. They were a church that existed only because of the principle of non-resistance to royal authority that was arguing that the church must resist the royal authority. Similarly, the Carlists were absolute monarchists who were driven to rebellion by the actions of the last absolute monarch of Spain, King Fernando VII, who declared his daughter rather than his brother to be his heir and successor. However, he did not do this by the traditional legal process but simply decreed it on his own absolute authority and so, after his death, the Carlists rebelled against his daughter and proclaimed his brother Don Carlos to be the true King of Spain. For myself, I have no doubts that the Carlists were on the side of the angels in their cause, however, one could make a legitimate case that, after a certain point, they were doing Spain more harm than good by continuing on rather than seeking some sort of reconciliation. Eventually, the country went to ruin, the empire fell away and even if they had been militarily successful, the Carlist heir would have had far less of a realm to rule as a result of the long succession of wars.

This was something that Britain did not suffer. The Jacobite risings were fewer and less severe than the Carlist wars and the British Empire did not suffer as a result of them. In Spain, on the other hand, the situation deteriorated to such an extent that both sides were increasingly discredited so that it was decided to reject the Bourbon dynasty as a whole and import a monarch from the Italian House of Savoy. When that failed to solve the problem, Spain became a republic for the first time in history though it was so inept that it thankfully was short-lived. The monarchy was restored, the old conflict resumed and soon enough another republic was declared that proved far more disastrous. Happily, with the death of Infante Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime in 1936 (“King Alfonso Carlos I”) it seemed that the legitimacy problem was solved as the exiled King Alfonso XIII then became the senior male descendant of King Carlos IV (the last monarch before Fernando VII). That should have been the end of it according to the original bone of contention which was the suppression of Salic Law by Fernando VII which had been in place ever since the Bourbon royals came to Spain (ironically, the older tradition in Spain had allowed female succession).

However, as we know, that was not the end of it as there are still people claiming to be Carlists and in opposition to the existing Spanish monarchy in spite of the fact that King Juan Carlos is the undisputed, senior male descendant of King Carlos IV. Like him or not, he is the legitimate King of Spain, period, end of discussion. The problem is that the modern-day neo-Carlists started changing the standards by which they judged royal legitimacy. With the death of the Duke of San Jaime, it ceased to be based on bloodline legitimacy and became all about religious and political ideology. Of course, even in that they could not agree with themselves and broke up into communist and anti-communist factions (as absurd as that seems) and it basically came down to “the legitimate heir is whoever we think is best”. Now, obviously, one does not have to be much of a monarchist to see that this is a mentality totally at odds with the very idea of hereditary monarchy and which is much more akin to some sort of republicanism. It no longer is accepting whomever Heaven shall provide and turns into accepting whoever I think is best. And, just like in Britain, these neo-Carlists (aside from the leftist lunatics) aid the republican cause by attacking their monarch and monarchy at every opportunity seemingly oblivious to the fact that Spanish society is about as far from being staunchly monarchist and traditional Catholic as one can possibly be. To the extent that they acknowledge it all, they blame it all on the King. This is absurd and unfair and it is easy to see why.

There had been terrorist campaigns by regional separatists and communist groups for some time before the death of Generalissimo Franco. Spain was not some sort of solidly right-wing, traditional Catholic place before the King took over. The prospect of another civil war was a major concern for people at the time as the extremes on the right and on the left had not gone away. King Juan Carlos decided that the only way to avoid this was with a constitutional monarchy in which the public could vote for whichever side they pleased, vote them into power and vote them out again. The idea that everyone was happily pro-Franco in Spain before the King restored the constitutional monarchy is rather disproved by the first election results in which the wishy-washy coalition came in first with 35% of the vote, the socialists came in second with 30%, the communists with 10% and the Popular Alliance (the most pro-Franco of them all) earned less than 9% of the vote. The point being that the people could have told the King, “no thanks” and voted for the old National Movement to continue just as they could have voted down the new constitution of 1978 and held on to the old one but, again, they did not. The King of Spain did not come in, suppress Francoism (or whatever one chooses to call it) and force liberal democracy down the throats of the Spanish people. To avoid violence and unrest, he simply gave them the choice and they decided to go in a very different direction. The Spanish Falange had been in major decline since the 1960’s and it was also no fault of the King that, upon the death of Franco, the National Movement splintered into several feuding factions, none of which have been politically significant since.

It is also a fact that the Falange, the National Movement, was never solidly monarchist and traditional in the first place. Originally, the Falange was, in fact, staunchly republican and, I would argue, some of their more left-leaning and populist policies probably helped the Spanish public get to the point that it is today. It was very modernist and revolutionary but those parts were simply pushed aside after the rise to prominence of Franco who was not a political ideologue but simply a monarchist and traditional conservative. It was Franco who basically forced the Falangists and Carlists together into one movement (the regionalism of the Carlists also being forced to give way to national unity just as certain elements of the Falange program had to give way to accommodate the alliance). So, to sum up, Spain has come a very long way since the days of absolute monarchy and wars over bloodline legitimacy. The legitimate monarch is on the throne of Spain and tearing him down will not bring the old Spain back. The only options available for that are the same options that have always been available; coercion or persuasion of which the only realistic option is persuasion. That means defeating your enemies in the voting booth which can only be done by converting society to a more traditional way of thinking because if the King of Spain falls the result will not be the emergence of another Franco but the emergence of a (God forbid) Third Spanish Republic.

This is why, on the “Legitimacy” page, the first line is, “First and foremost, it is the official position here at The Mad Monarchist that the legitimacy of the remaining reigning monarchs of the world is not to be called into question.” As I said there, monarchists today are an endangered species and no longer have the luxury of feuding over centuries-old dynastic disputes, many of which involve monarchies that have not even existed in over a hundred years. When the very idea of monarchy has been discarded by so many in favor of revolutionary republicanism, this is the time to man the battlements, flood the moat and pull up the drawbridge, not assist the enemy by giving them another reason to disregard their reigning monarchs. These republicans know, even if some monarchists do not, that 9 times out of 10, when a monarchy is abolished, it is gone forever. Restorations are rare things and so long as even the bare bones of a monarchy remain, I will fight to preserve them so that, perhaps, one day society can be brought back to its senses and monarchy resume its rightful place and in proper fashion. That means, it doesn’t matter if I agree with everything a particular monarch or royal says or not (I have to bite my tongue quite a bit sometimes), it means I don’t have to approve of how every existing monarchy functions or what policies their elected governments pursue because, as hard as it might be, refurbishing an existing monarchy is a great deal easier than restoring one that has been overthrown.

In explaining some of the myriad of dynastic disputes to one perplexed person, I was asked why everyone else in the world could not be like Japan; just have one monarchy, one dynasty and no arguments about it. My reply was that we all could but it would require doing something that few people, even some monarchists, seem able to do which is to regard the monarch as sacred and inviolable. If you like and agree with the monarch, wonderful, if not; blame the advisors, blame the politicians, pull the whole world down around the monarch if you like, but the monarch must remain sacrosanct and above all such things. What the world needs right now is a change in values, a change in the heart and in attitude and if that happens, political change will follow naturally and genuinely. I would encourage everyone to push for and strive for and argue for a more traditional society, a return to basic common sense and natural law but I would also urge everyone to not assist the republicans by making an enemy of any monarch but rather display a steadfast loyalty and devotion that is stronger than any passing trends of social fashion.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Irish Jacobites in the 45

It was on this day in 1745 that the son of the Stuart claimant to the British throne, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, raised the royal standard at Glenfinnan in Scotland, an event which is often used to mark the official start of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising; that attempt to send King George II back to his ancestral land of Hanover and restore the Stuarts to the British throne. Today, most still look at the 45 rising as a clash between England and Scotland, some painting it in more national terms as the last effort to save Scottish independence from English domination. Of course, that is not entirely true. There were at least a few hundred English Jacobites who fought for “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and there were many more still who at least did not view him any more unfavorably than they did the very German King George II who was not exactly a ‘people person’. One of the famous “Seven Men of Moidart” was English. As far as Scotland goes, there were actually probably more Scots fighting against the Stuarts than fighting for them. The lowland areas of Scotland were predominately loyal to the House of Hanover and had a rather low opinion of their highland brethren. Even among the highland Scots there were those who were ardent Hanoverians and even fought alongside the redcoats against their fellow highlanders. It was a variety of civil war for the British Isles and that includes the island of Ireland which has sometimes been overlooked in this context.

King James II
Because of the rise of the republican, nationalist, independence movement in Ireland much of this history is not stressed as much as it might be. Whereas the loyalists of today still celebrate their Hanoverian past and, of course, the earlier Prince of Orange, Irish opposition to these groups certainly do not celebrate the Stuart royals their own ancestors supported and fought for. However, what some have called the Wars of English Succession started, of course, in Ireland with the struggle by King James II to retake his three kingdoms from his son-in-law William of Orange. In a way, what eventually became the Jacobite political agenda started in Ireland as well with the declaration of independence. Ultimately the Jacobites would advocate a program for the three kingdoms to be governed separately, united only by their common monarch. By 1745 Prince James Francis Edward Stuart had already issued a formal denunciation of the political union enacted in the reign of Queen Anne. Although it may not be much remembered today, at the time Jacobite sympathy was as much a concern for the London government in Ireland as it was in Scotland. There may not have been an uprising in 1745 at all were it not for the support of a number of prominent Irish Jacobites.

One of those who helped Prince Charles actually get to Scotland was Lord Charles O’Brien, Viscount Clare. A Jacobite with a long record of service in the French army he would eventually attain the rank of Marshal of France and be made a knight of the Holy Spirit. It was Lord Clare who put Prince Charles in touch with the Irish shipping magnates who helped arranged the gathering of the men, material and funds the Prince would need to launch his expedition. At the time, Lord Clare was the commander of the Irish Brigade in the army of His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XV. This was a unit originally formed for French service in exchange for a larger contingent of French troops that were sent to Ireland to fight for King James II. When Prince Charles finally set out for Scotland he was accompanied by the “Seven Men of Moidart” of whom four were Irishmen; Sir Thomas Sheridan, Parson George Kelly, Sir John Macdonald and Sir John William O’Sullivan. Sheridan had been the tutor of Prince Charles and was over seventy when the expedition launched. His age would have made campaigning difficult and he was soon sent back to Rome to keep Prince James informed of the progress of the uprising. Parson George Kelly, likewise, did not remain too long in Scotland as he was sent back to France after the battle of Prestonpans to spread the word of the stunning Jacobite victory.

Sir John Macdonald was involved throughout the war, though in a fairly nominal capacity. He was a veteran officer of the French cavalry and Prince Charles appointed Sir John “Instructor of Cavalry” in the Jacobite army. However, since the Jacobites had so few cavalry as to be little better off than if they had none at all, there was very little for Macdonald to do. Still, he was involved in all the top-level activities of the Jacobite camp and kept a journal that has proved invaluable to historians. Taken prisoner at the battle of Culloden he escaped execution by virtue of his French commission and was so was ultimately released in a prisoner exchange for English troops being held in France. Sir John O’Sullivan was the most involved and most highly placed of the Irishmen fighting for “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and probably one of the most controversial as well. To this day some go so far as to blame much of the failure of the uprising on O’Sullivan while those inclined to trust the judgment of Prince Charles usually have a more sympathetic view of the man and his contribution.

Sir John William O’Sullivan was born in County Kerry, sometime around 1700, and was trained for the priesthood in Rome and Paris. However, when his father died, he returned to Ireland to take over the family estates. Unfortunately, he ran afoul of the Penal Laws and forfeited his ancestral lands, returning to France and joining the army. His time as a tutor in a French military household likely gave him the notion to take up a career in the army. O’Sullivan showed considerable talent and rose rapidly in rank, finally becoming a colonel. He served in Corsica and on the Rhine where he gained a high reputation for irregular warfare. It seems most likely that it was his record as an accomplished guerilla fighter that brought O’Sullivan to the attention of Prince Charles and, in any event, the two became very close and lasting friends. When the Prince set out for his effort to restore his house in Britain he named O’Sullivan his adjutant and quartermaster-general. From the time of their landing until the bitter end O’Sullivan never left the Prince’s side.

The ship which carried Prince Charles and his compatriots to Scotland was largely crewed by troops of the Irish Brigade and from the troops of the Irish Brigade of the French army, a special detachment was created for service in Scotland. These Irishmen had never forgotten the reason for their being in the French army in the first place and were eager to get back to “their” war. This special corps consisted of a battalion of Irish infantry drawn from all the regiments of the Irish Brigade known as the “Irish Picquets” as well as one squadron of Irish cavalry. They gave good and solid service all throughout the campaign. Whether the same could be said for Quartermaster-General O’Sullivan remains a debatable point. He was very close to Prince Charles and the young royal took his advice very seriously, very rarely ever disregarding it. Some historians think he should have, though a balanced, accurate view is hard to come by since many seem to think either everything Prince Charles did was wrong or everything he did was right.

As Quartermaster-general, O’Sullivan had the difficult and unenviable task of keeping the Jacobite forces fed and armed. Many ardent Jacobites professed that he gave good service in this position but O’Sullivan (like the Prince) was constantly at odds with Lord George Murray and the partisans of Murray tend to lay much of the blame for the Jacobite failure at the door of O’Sullivan if not the Prince himself. At the last battle at Culloden Moor, once again, Lord Murray did not want to fight, insisting that the ground was too soft and their position less than ideal. Prince Charles, however, was determined to have at the enemy at least one more time, regardless of the circumstances, before admitting defeat. Colonel O’Sullivan, as usual, agreed with the Prince and many have since placed at least some of the blame for the lost battle on O’Sullivan for choosing such poor ground to fight on. Whatever the case, O’Sullivan has also been credited with helping to arrange the safe escape of Prince Charles back into exile. The colonel himself escaped on a French frigate (which also had an Irish captain) and was later knighted by Prince James (King James III to the Jacobites) for his part in saving the life of his son. He married well and died sometime in the early 1760’s.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart
The Irish troops who fought for Prince Charles fought on until the final defeat at Culloden but, because they were legally considered French soldiers, were fortunate enough to escape the brutal treatment meted out to most other Jacobites. They were allowed to surrender and were treated as prisoners-of-war until properly exchanged and shipped back to France. The troops of the Irish Brigade continued to give valiant service to the King of France until the French Revolution when the foreign units of the French army were all dissolved. By that time, however, Jacobite sympathy among the Irish had started to decline. Many nationalist, pro-independence secret societies in Ireland continued to support the Jacobite cause and the eventual restoration of the Stuarts to the Irish (and British) thrones but this began to fade after France was obliged to withdraw recognition of the Stuart claimant. When the Pope likewise finally recognized King George III as the legitimate British monarch, most viewed Jacobitism to be over and done with. The French Revolution also brought a new, and horrific, republican ideology to Ireland to be used as a new “cause” against monarchist Great Britain, replacing the old adherence to the principles and values of the Jacobites. However, one thing that is certain is that the Jacobite cause would never have gotten off the ground in the first place had it not been for Irish support and there continued to be strong Irish support, on and off the battlefield, until the bitter end. Their contribution deserves to be remembered.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Savoy King of Britain?

It is my official policy that the legitimacy of any reigning monarch today is not to be questioned. In these modern times, any royal house that falls would be replaced by yet another cookie-cutter republic and not some rival royal house or royal bloodline. In the past, however, there were a number of heroic struggles to restore a legitimate royal line whose place on the throne had been usurped by another and one such example is the struggle of the Jacobites in Britain. This, as most know, was the effort to restore first King James II and later his heirs of the House of Stuart to the British throne after they were replaced by another royal line and later the House of Hanover. However, though the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745, carried forward mostly by the highland Scots, were not successful, a minority of Jacobites continued to recognize the Stuart line as the legitimate heirs to the British throne. Interestingly enough, had things gone differently in history, England, Scotland and Ireland might have had an Italian monarch of the House of Savoy if the Jacobites had been able to have their way.

The last direct heir of the deposed Stuart King James II was Prince Henry, Cardinal York, known to Jacobites as “King Henry IX”. He was the younger brother of the famous Prince Charles Edward Stuart or “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, grandson of King James II and, to Jacobites, “King Charles III”. Having no heirs of his own, when he died, his claim passed to his brother, Prince Henry, who had entered the Church and risen to the rank of cardinal. Obviously, he had no heirs either and so when he died in 1807 the claim then passed to his second cousin twice removed the former King Carlo Emanuele IV of Piedmont-Sardinia (he had abdicated in 1802) of the House of Savoy. So, if the Jacobites had their way, he would have been “King Charles IV” and he was, of course, a remarkable man, known for his devout faith and heroic opposition to the aggression of the French revolutionary forces. He had also been close friends with the Cardinal, his predecessor in the Jacobite succession. There is also no doubt that the Cardinal intended for King Carlo Emanuele IV to succeed to his rights according to the will he left behind. However, had he been in a position to accept the British throne it is unlikely he would have done so as, after the death of his beloved wife in 1802, he abdicated the throne he did have and devoted his life to religious work, taking vows in the Society of Jesus.

When King Carlo Emanuele IV died in 1819 his rights to the British throne passed to his brother, King Vittorio Emanuele I of Piedmont-Sardinia. A very traditional man, he is remembered for being the one to see the House of Savoy restored in Turin after the defeat of France and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia expanded by the addition of the territories of the former Republic of Genoa. He put an end to all of the revolutionary laws enacted by the French but, despite being a military man by nature, would not shed the blood of his own subjects and abdicated the throne in 1821 rather than suppress an uprising or break his word to the Austrians who he had made peace with. However, after the death of his brother, the Jacobites regarded him as “King Victor” of England, Scotland, Ireland and France and his abdication of the Piedmontese throne did not affect his status among the Jacobites as the legitimate British monarch. To them, he remained “King Victor” until his death in 1824 when his rights to the British throne passed to his daughter.

That daughter was Princess Maria Beatrice Vittoria Giuseppina di Savoia, born in 1792 when her father was still Duke of Aosta. When her father died the Jacobites recognized her as their legitimate Queen, referring to her as “Queen Mary III” or “Queen Mary II” depending on who one asked. In 1812 she married her uncle Archduke Ferdinand Charles of Austria, Duke of Modena, making her the Duchess of Modena. She had an eventful life thanks to the impact of the Napoleonic Wars on Italy and far from aspiring to the idea of actually becoming “Queen Mary III (or II) it was only by Austrian military assistance that she and her husband were able to regain their place in the Duchy of Modena. She died in 1840 at the age of 47 in Castello del Catajo as the last Jacobite heir of the House of Savoy. Upon her death the Jacobite claim fell to her son, Duke Francesco V of Modena (House of Hapsburg-Lorraine) who the Jacobites recognized as “King Francis I”. So, after two kings and one queen of the House of Savoy the British throne would have been taken by the Hapsburgs, though a branch still, at that time, at least nominally Italian. He was eventually overthrown and Modena was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy, the Jacobite claim going to the Austria-Este line of the Hapsburgs after his death.

Interestingly enough, the daughter of the Duke of Modena married King Ludwig III of Bavaria and so, when she died, the Jacobite claim passed to her son Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria and the heir to the Bavarian throne (today Duke Franz of Bavaria) is still technically the heir to the legitimist Jacobite legacy. Of course, that is what it is all about: legitimate bloodlines, but still, one cannot help but appreciate the irony of all those Jacobites in 1715 and 1745 fighting for the Stuart heir against a German (Hanoverian) monarch who came to London to reign over them now having their ideological successors of today at least theoretically proposing that another German come to London to replace the native-born monarch to reign over the British Isles. These are the strange twists and turns of royal genealogy and it is these same twists and turns that, had things worked out just a little differently, might have made the House of Savoy the British Royal Family and given England, Scotland and Ireland an Italian monarch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Highland Charge in America

It was on this day in 1776 that the battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge was fought near Wilmington, North Carolina. Unfortunately a victory for the republican side, it was nonetheless a display of great courage and heroism on the part of the loyal royalists and, as far as I am aware, the last example of a traditional “highland charge” in North America. The Revolutionary War had still not taken hold completely in the southern colonies prior to the battle and the Royal Governor of North Caroline, Josiah Martin, was, like others, convinced that with only a modest force of Redcoats the loyalists of his colony could be rallied to the cause of King and Country, subdue the rebels and restore the place to loyal obedience; and not only North Carolina but the whole of the south. These expectations proved to be rather overly optimistic as when the two sides met at Widow Moore’s Creek bridge, it was the loyalists who were outnumbered by the equally hastily organized rebel militia by a few hundred men. Perhaps the most memorable thing about the battle, and what our focus today will be, was that the loyalist side was made up almost totally of Scottish highlanders and, it is noteworthy, a great many Jacobites.

Governor Martin
After the glorious disaster known as the ‘45 Jacobite Uprising, many highland Scots had left the rather unpleasant atmosphere of Scotland for the New World and settled in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Some today would probably not expect these men to have been likely sympathizers with the cause of King George III, however, not long after the troubles in America began, the Scotsman Allan Maclean obtained permission from the King to recruit loyal fellow Scots in North America to fight for the Crown in the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment. Some of these men were long-time veterans of the British army but others had previously fought against it. For example, in North Carolina, to of the leading officers employed by Maclean in gathering Scotsman for the Royal Emigrants were Donald MacLeod and Donald MacDonald both of whom were veterans of the Battle of Bunker Hill. However, also recruiting for the cause of King George III was Allan MacDonald, a noted loyalist and the husband of the Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald who had saved the life of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and aided his escape to Skye. She supported the Crown as well and Allan MacDonald was appointed brigadier-general by the governor and rode himself across the colony from town house to country cabin urging people to take up arms for the King and in opposition to the rebels.

Those who responded had a variety of motivations. Aside from the pull of King and Country, there were local tensions to be considered. Since there settlement more and more people had started to move into the Piedmont area and these people tended to be of the Whig/Patriot persuasion and clashed with the more established residents of the area. Even those Scots not inclined to great adoration for King George III were often willing to fight for his side simply to stop the influx of colonists intruding on what had previously been their exclusive domain. For the Jacobites among them, there was also the memory that they had fought for something more than simply fidelity to the House of Stuart, as fervent as that was and as deeply felt as their personal loyalty to the “King across the water” had always been. Part of what was at the core of all of that was the idea that legitimate authority comes from God and so the idea of a democratic republic was unthinkable and downright wicked. King George III may not have been the monarch they would have most preferred, but better a Hanoverian king than a revolutionary republic and regardless of who was on the throne it was important that the ties between America and Britain (including Scotland) not be broken.

By 1776 Anglo-Scottish tensions had also eased considerably and it is a fact as well that even in the ‘45 at least as many Scots as supported Prince Charles just as fervently supported King George II. For many, it took the outbreak of republicanism in North America to reconcile the two sides in the common defense of the principle of monarchy. When they set out to confront the rebels they expected some assistance from Britain but the expedition intended to reinforce them was delayed by bad weather in Ireland and did not arrive. Neighboring Virginia had also known disaster was a hastily organized loyalist force with little support was overwhelmed by rebel forces and it was to be the same for North Carolina. Donald MacDonald, Donald McLeod and John Campbell led a little over 700 men into the fight at Widow Moore’s Creek where they were met by more than a thousand rebels. It was an awesome sight, coming on as they were in the ‘grand old style’ many in full highland dress and with bagpipes wailing away. At one point, Captain Campbell picked a group to charge across the bridge, which they did brandishing their claymores and shouting “King George and Broadswords!” only to be cut to pieces by withering rebel fire.

The aftermath was pretty bad for the cause of the Crown with loyalists being hunted down and taken prisoner or simply dispatched out of hand but, of course, it was only the beginning of the revolutionary war in the south and by no means the end. Today, however, I would suggest that monarchists take inspiration from those highland Scots who charged the rebel lines at Widow Moore’s Creek and the Jacobites in particular. Certainly it is an example of great bravery but from a somewhat unexpected quarter. Therefore it can also serve as something of a lesson for monarchists today, particularly those die-hard Jacobites who linger about the on-line world of theoretical monarchism. Far from sitting comfortably from a safe distance, pouring scorn on the existing authorities of the time, some of these men had actually suffered at the hands of Hanoverian troops, men who had shed blood and had their own blood shed in the cause of the House of Stuart and yet they put that past aside, never forgetting it and never ceasing to honor it, but in order to come together for the cause of kingship and traditional authority in opposition to revolutionary republicanism. That is an example that we would all do well to emulate.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monarchist Music: Wha'll Be King But Charlie

Probably my favorite Jacobite song of the '45
aka "The News Fae Moidart"

The news from Moidart cam yestreen
Will soon gar mony ferlie,
For ships o war hae just come in
And landed Royal Charlie.

Come through the heather, around him gather,
Ye're all the welcomer early;
Around him cling with a your kin,
For wha'll be King but Charlie?
Come through the heather, around him gather
Come Ronald, come Donald, come a thegither;
And crown your rightfu lawfu King
For wha'll be King but Charlie?

The Highland clans with sword in hand
Frae John o Groats tae Airlie
Hae tae a man declared to stand
Or fa wi Royal Charlie.

The Lowlands a, both great an sma,
Wi many's a lord and laird hae
Declared for Scotia's King an Law,
And spier ye wha, but Charlie.

There's ne'er a lass in a the land
But vows both late and early
To man she'll neer give heart nor hand
Wha wadna fecht fer Charlie.

Then here's a health tae Charlie's cause,
And be't complete and early;
His very name our heart's bluid warms;
Tae arms for Royal Charlie.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pretender Profile: Bonnie Prince Charlie

There is probably no more famous royal pretender in history than “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, son of the “Old Chevalier” and grandson of King James II of Britain. His story has become the stuff of legend and he has been as unjustly vilified by the Hanoverians as he has been romanticized by Jacobites. However, as with any question of this sort in western monarchy, the cause was more important than personality and for Jacobites it was that cause; royal legitimacy, that was really what was being venerated in song and story. The romantic image of the “Young Pretender” was never meant to be an accurate depiction of the man but rather the symbol of a struggle, an icon to which could be attached various ideals from pristine, divinely ordained monarchy to the struggle against the centralization of power in Britain to Scottish nationalism. In all of that it would be easy for the prince to be lost.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart was born in Rome on December 31, 1720 and grew up in Rome and Bologna. His family life could be tumultuous but it was affectionate and like his father before him he was raised with the expectation of one day restoring the House of Stuart to the British throne. Toward this end he was given military training from an early age and first saw battle at the siege of Gaeta in 1734. He was sent to France in 1744 to lead a French army in an invasion of Britain but the plan fell through. The year before Prince Charles had been named regent by his father to give him the authority to act in his name to pursue the restoration. Plans were constantly being made which seemed more urgent the longer the German House of Hanover consolidated itself on the British throne. Finally, in 1745 the gamble was made and Charles set sail for Scotland, the home of his ancestors and where he could expect the most support.

Unfortunately for him the French fleet that was to accompany him was scattered by bad weather and he was left to fend for himself. Undeterred, he landed in the northern islands and proceeded to Glenfinnan where he rallied the highland clans (which were mostly Jacobite in sympathy regardless of religion) and raised the Stuart royal standard proclaiming his father King. However, not all of Scotland was with him. Some of the highland clans refused to join what seemed a hopeless cause and most of the lowlands were firmly loyal to the House of Hanover. Still, after enlisting the eminent soldier Lord George Murray the Prince marched on Edinburgh, capturing it without a struggle. Later, in a shocking turn of events, his Jacobite army, armed for the most part with swords rather than muskets, surprised and soundly defeated the British army of Sir John Cope at Prestonpans.

Buoyed by this victory Prince Charles, with 6,000 men, marched south into England. He hoped to rally the public to his side (King George II being far from universally popular) but aside from a few hundred English volunteers (mostly Catholic) the population either took the side of the House of Hanover or chose to sit by the sidelines to see which side would win. Prince Charles reached as far south as Derby and George II was making plans to evacuate London and return to his native Germany if the situation deteriorated. However, the government had a man in the Jacobite camp, a double agent, who assured the Scots that George II had tens of thousands of troops converging on their position. Prince Charles, having beaten the odds already in coming so far, wanted to throw caution to the wind and press on. Lord Murray and the highland chieftains, however, overruled him and ordered a retreat back to Scotland. In fact, the situation was not as hopeless as it had seemed but disaster had been averted for King George II and henceforth the winds of fortune would blow in his favor.

Prince Charles was demoralized marching north but his small army of rough warriors was still formidable. At Falkirk in January of 1746 the Jacobites won another stunning victory over the pursuing government forces of General Henry Hawley. Prince Charles wanted to take the initiative and renew the offensive after this victory but was again overruled. The efficient and ruthless Duke of Cumberland, son of George II, took over the pursuit and chased the Jacobite army from pillar to post across Scotland until they made their final stand in the far north at Culloden Moor. The battle was heroic, it was glorious and it was an utter disaster for the Jacobites. Absolutely every advantage was held by Cumberland but with bagpipes wailing and swords held high the Jacobites made one last great ‘highland charge’ and were all but annihilated. Cumberland showed no mercy and the aftermath of the battle was a scene of horrific butchery.

His spirit crushed, Prince Charles fled to the outer islands. Despite a huge bounty placed on his head by George II no one betrayed him and he made his escape with many legends, stories and songs told ever since about his harrowing flight. Picked up by a frigate he was returned to France. Charles had a daughter by a mistress he had met in Scotland during his ill-fated adventure but after the defeat at Culloden he was a broken man in every way, plagued by depression and began to drink heavily. During the Seven Years War (known in America as the French & Indian War) he was summoned to Paris to discuss his participation in a French invasion of Britain. Intoxicated and spiteful he did not react well to the grand promises of the French minister. He had heard it all before and saw what such promises were worth. France would not deal further with him and, as might have been expected, their planned 100,000-man invasion, never came off.

In 1766 his father died and the faithful few Jacobites proclaimed the prince King Charles III. However, this time there was no recognition of his title from the Pope. Most of the major powers in Europe viewed the Jacobite cause as lost and it was no longer in their interests to maintain recognition. In 1772 Charles married a Belgian princess with whom he moved to Italy. She began having an affair with an Italian artist and left the prince in 1780, claiming he had been abusive. The discarded, defeated and dispirited would-be King finally came to the end of his sad life in Rome on January 31, 1788. His remains are today buried in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican alongside his father and brother. Jacobite remnants continued on after his death but for all intents and purposes their struggle had been decided on the cold, damp ground at Culloden and it was the hope represented in the 1745 rising and the romantic image of the young prince come to reclaim the throne of his ancestors that captured public imagination. It is also, for obvious reasons, that image which most prefer to remember rather than the tragic fate of the man himself once known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pretender Profile: King James VIII & III

Ordinarily the birth of an heir to the throne is an occasion of great joy; the hope of stability and the future of a dynasty. However, the birth of Prince James Edward Francis Stuart, first son King James II of Britain and Queen Mary of Modena, brought about war, upheaval and the effective fall of a dynasty that had reigned in Britain since 1371. The prince, who would become known as “The Old Chevalier” and “The Old Pretender” was born at St James Palace on June 10, 1688 and was soon thereafter baptized into the Roman Catholic Church of his parents and this was the “problem” with the newborn prince. He represented the potential of a Catholic British dynasty and this was something that those with power in the country were not willing to tolerate. First, his legitimacy was called into question and the King even ordered a formal investigation to remove all doubt but it was all rather pointless. William of Orange soon landed with a Dutch army and the Protestant elites rushed to his banner. The Queen and Prince James were sent to safety in France while the King struggled (unsuccessfully) to maintain his throne.

The Prince was brought up in France and upon the death of his father in 1701 was recognized by British Jacobites as King James VIII of Scotland and III of England. The King of France, the King of Spain, the Pope and the little Italian Duchy of Modena also recognized him as the legitimate monarch of the ‘three kingdoms’. As a result of this he was declared a criminal by his half-sister and brother-in-law in London, King William III and Queen Mary II, who declared him a traitor the following year. As a boy ‘King James III’ had been prepared by his father for the one paramount goal of restoring the House of Stuart to the British throne and holding fast to their Catholic faith. Not all Jacobites were Catholic and some Protestant Tories pointed out to James that as William of Orange was not terribly popular he would greatly increase his chances of success in restoring the Stuarts if he would reject Catholicism and become an Anglican. This, he adamantly refused to do. His father had only become more religious during his years in exile and although James III made it clear he stood for religious toleration, he would never abandon the Catholic Church no matter how much it might benefit him politically.

In 1708 James III made his first effort to restore himself to the British throne and King Louis XIV of France made a major commitment to supporting him. James sailed from Dunkirk with a considerable French fleet and some 6,000 French troops however, the British Royal Navy (loyal to Queen Anne, successor of William III, daughter of James II and thus half-sister to James III) intercepted the fleet and hounded it all the way around Scotland and back to France. Still, he did not lose hope. When his sister Queen Anne died in 1714 the government had to go looking quite far to find a suitably Protestant prince to take the throne, finally settling on Prince George, Elector of Hanover. In the past Protestants had often stirred up xenophobic support by associating Catholicism with being “foreign” (unlike the homemade Church of England). Now, that same devotion to Protestantism had brought a rather reluctant distant German cousin to the throne in preference to the son of a born and bred British king.

James thought, with the fairly unpopular German King George I in power in London, the British public might be willing to rise in his favor if he could mount a comeback. However, it would not be easy. Only the year before France and Spain had been forced to make peace with the British and part of the peace was a British demand that James III be expelled from France (having him next door was too big a worry). In many ways it seemed like this was the last chance he would have to claim the throne of his father. In 1715 he wrote to the Earl of Mar who rallied the chieftains of the highland clans in Scotland and proclaimed James their king. They secured the highlands fairly quickly, occupied Perth and attracted an army of about 8,000 men. However, the Duke of Argyll opposed them and the government in London began arresting anyone whose loyalty was the least bit suspect which squashed potential risings in other parts of Britain before they could get off the ground.

Fighting raged off and on in Scotland to little effect. When James arrived at Peterhead via a French ship he found the rising going nowhere and he himself was suffering from illness and unable to take a decisive leadership role. The Jacobites were ultimately defeated and James was forced to retreat to Montrose where he boarded a ship bound for the continent; he had rolled the dice and lost. Back in Europe Pope Innocent XIII gave James a palace in Rome and a pension to support him while in Britain sparks of hope lingered. During “the ‘15” many Scots had opposed James III but in the aftermath the government crackdown in Scotland caused opposition to George of Hanover to grow and nostalgia for the Stuarts to increase. In 1719 Spain gave support to another effort at a Jacobite uprising but it failed as well.

That same year James III married Maria Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of King John III of Poland by whom he would eventually have two sons; Charles and Henry. Like his father before him James spent his time in prayer and preparing his son and heir Charles to restore the Stuarts. In time this developed into the Jacobite uprising of 1745 when the young Prince Charles landed in Scotland after a storm scattered the French ships meant to support him and a worrisome King of France withdrew his promise of military support. Nonetheless, Charles raised the Stuart standard and proclaimed his father king once again. Most of the highland clans rallied to him, Edinburgh was occupied and a stunning victory was won at Prestonpans. Fortunes seemed to be turning.

This time the Jacobites marched south into England, reaching as far as Derby before the chieftains lost their nerve and turned back. The Jacobites won another victory at Falkirk but continued to retreat. In 1746 at the battle of Culloden they were decisively defeated and Prince Charles only narrowly escaped back to Europe. James was disheartened though he always held out at least some hope that the Stuarts could one day be restored. French plans for another restoration attempt in Ireland were made but never got far beyond the drawing board. The Old Pretender, King James VIII of Scotland and III of England to his loyal Jacobites, died in Rome on New Year’s day 1766. He was buried in the crypt at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last Bow of the Jacobites

Today marks the anniversary of the last battle fought on British soil; the battle of Culloden moor in the north of Scotland in 1746. It was the last battle in the fight to restore the Stuarts to the British throne and is generally remembered as the last charge of the highland clans. It is often forgotten that the 45 Uprising was a fight for the whole of the British Isles and the Jacobite army included men from England, Scotland and Ireland while the Hanoverian army included many foreign mercenaries from Europe. However, the battle does hold a special significance for Scotland, especially given the atrocities that happened afterward and the suppression of Scottish culture that followed. It was the end of the old, traditional system of organization and loyalties of the highland clans. It many ways it was the end of an era, the last of the old and the first of the new when it came to both tactics and politics. Men fought for the Stuarts for personal reasons, men fought for the Hanoverians for political reasons. It was a victory for modernity, for the current form of the parliamentary monarchy and in a way a victory of reason over romance. It was also the end of the Jacobites as a viable group of opposition. When revolution came to North America many former Jacobites fought for King George III against the republican revolutionaries.
I would hope that enough good grace is left in Great Britain to show tolerance and kindness to the vanquished in that last British civil war. With the battle of Culloden the Jacobites were finished and everyone, deep down, knew it. Henry Cardinal York seemingly endorsed the house of Hanover in the person of King George III and so, given all of that, I would ask the modern-day Hanoverians not to be too hard on the modern-day Jacobites and let them keep their vision and their ideals as it is all they have left. Every Jacobite I have ever met supports the British monarchy, they know that the Duke of Bavaria is never going to press his claim and they would rather have any monarchy rather than the nightmarish lie that a British republic would be. They simply want their history and traditions treated with the dignity they deserve for it was very noble ideals and principles that those men who charged across the moor at Culloden were fighting for; legitimate royal authority, loyalty to their rightful king, their ancient traditions and rights and de-centralized over centralized government.
Who can say what would have happened if they had won? I would like to think that the monarchy would be stronger, the succession out of political hands, parliament would understand that they answer to the Crown and the Crown does not answer to them and maybe the Sovereign would veto something once and a while (like the EU agreements that threaten UK independence). Maybe things would have not reached the point of no return with Ireland but of course no one can know that for sure. Just in case it is though, and just out of respect for what those wild highlanders at Culloden were fighting for their memory should be honored.
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