Nick Name: Old Pretender
Birthday: June 10, 1688
Died At Age: 77
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: James Francis Edward
Born Country: England
Born in: St. James's Palace, London, Kingdom of England, United Kingdom
Famous as: Prince
Royal Family Members
Spouse/Ex-: Maria Clementina Sobieska (m. 1719)
father: James II - VII
mother: Mary of Modena
siblings: Louisa Maria
children: Charles Edward Stuart, Henry Benedict Stuart
Died on: January 1, 1766
place of death: Palazzo Muti, Rome, Papal States
City: London, England
Who was James Francis Edward Stuart?
James Francis Edward Stuart was the son of King James II of England and Ireland and VII of Scotland and his Catholic wife, Mary of Modena. The Protestants detested the fact that both he and his father were Roman Catholics and were opposed to the idea of a Catholic king succeeding to the throne. Thus, they rebelled. They supported the king's Protestant daughter, Princess Mary, and her husband, Prince William of Orange, to successfully depose the king. After the deposition, James lived in exile in different parts of Europe. He stayed in France until his father died in 1701. With the support of King Louis XIV, he claimed his right to the thrones of England, Ireland, and Scotland. The loyalists of the House of Stuarts, called the Jacobites, and the Papal states also supported his claim. There were numerous uprisings from 1701 until his death. Following the failure of the 1715 Jacobite rising, he fell out of favor with his allies for abandoning them. Additionally, the change of guard in France rubbed salt into his wounds. However, Pope Clement XI continued to recognize him as the legitimate king of England, Ireland, and Scotland, offering him refuge in the Papal States. He continued his rebellion against England from his residence in Italy. Therefore, he got the nickname “The Old Pretender.”
Childhood & Early Life
James was born on June 10, 1688, to King James II of England and Ireland and VII of Scotland and his second wife, Mary of Modena, who were Catholics. Hence, he was raised according to staunch Catholic beliefs.
There were widespread rumors about his birth. It was believed that he was stealthily moved into the birth chamber in a warming pan, with an intention to have a Catholic heir to the throne.
Fearing that James, a Catholic, was next in line, the Protestant majority, under the leadership of Princess Mary and Prince William of George, revolted and deposed James II and VII, which witnessed the culmination of the Glorious Revolution.
However, Mary of Modena smuggled infant James to France by disguising herself.
He grew up at the ‘Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye,’ about 19 km from Paris, France. This palace was handed over to his father by King Louis XIV when he was in exile.
He had a sister named Louisa Maria.
He was trained in warfare by Richard Hamilton and Dominic Sheldon, two experienced campaigners from his father's Irish army.
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Struggles as a Pretender
In 1701, after James's father died, King Louis XIV of France, the Papal States, Spain, and Modena regarded James as the rightful successor to the thrones of England, Ireland, and Scotland and refused to accept William III, Mary II, or Anne as the lawful rulers.
Due to his claim to the throne, the English law confiscated his titles and attainted him for treason on March 2, 1702.
James attempted invasion by trying to arrive at the Firth of Forth on March 23, 1708. However, this attempt was foiled by the fleet of Admiral Sir George Byng.
He was offered support for his claim to the throne several times, provided he became a Protestant, but he refused and remained faithful to Catholicism.
As a result of the ‘Treaty of Utrecht,’ he was exiled to the Duchy of Lorraine.
The Fifteen Rebellion, an uprising of Jacobites in support of James's claim to the throne, failed in 1715. Two months after losing the Battle of Sheriffmuir, he retreated and set up court at the ‘Scone Palace.’
In February 1716, he abandoned the palace as the government troops were on the verge of capturing him. Following this, his allies turned against him.
He sought refuge in France, only to be refused by the new ruler of France.
The Papal States provided shelter to him and stayed in various regions, such as the ‘Palazzo del Re’ in Rome, Italy.
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The Jacobite rising of 1719, or “the Nineteen,” with Spanish backing to restore James to the throne was defeated at the Battle of Glen Shiel
In 1722, the Atterbury Plot was exposed, and the plan to claim the throne failed.
His son, Charles Stuart, led the 1745 Jacobite rising but was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.
In the later years, his relationship with Charles strained. Further, James's influence in appointing Henry, his second son, as a cardinal was the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.
He lived the life of a pretender for a little over 64 years, from 1701 to 1766, until his death.
After his death, the reigning Pope declined to support Charles's claim to the throne. Over time, he accepted the House of Hanover as the rightful rulers of Britain and Ireland.
Family, Personal Life, & Death
James's engagement to his cousin, Benedetta d'Este, was broken by her father for political reasons.
James married Maria Clementia Sobieska on September 3, 1719.
They had two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart.
He suffered from bouts of depression.
He died on January 1, 1766, and was buried in the crypt of ‘St. Peter's Basilica,’ currently in Vatican City.
A monument dedicated to James and his sons is installed in ‘St. Peter's Basilica,’ recognizing them as the last of the Royal House of Stuart.
He was also the Duke of Cornwall, the Duke of Rothesay, and the Prince of Wales.
He was honored as the “Knight of the Garter.”
He was an important character in the novel 'Spectacle of Corruption' by David Liss and in the ‘BBC’ series 'The First Churchills.'