Compleat Idler, Education

Scottish-Americans meet reality – Jacobites

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

NOTE:  This is a rant, not a detailed piece of scholarly history.  Much is relayed through different family traditions and I am not a Jacobite.

The season of Scottish-American pride draws to a close. Soon it will be October with the weather getting cooler and snowfall upon us making outdoor festivals less than pleasant—I remember freezing my buns at McPherson in late September after ditching my windbreaker in Estes two weeks earlier. My broken hip has, for the last few seasons, limited my ability to get to these gatherings and tweak the pride—though a good argument is probably the most Scots of that goes on.

My definition of modern Scots is as follows: A people of varied Celto-Norse heritage living north of England who, without English interference, would have annihilated each other centuries ago. The languages spoken are English, Scots (an English dialect originally called Inglis), Cymru, Gaelic (also called Erse or Irish), Norwegian and Glaswe (the dialect of Glasgow which does not appear mutually intelligible with any known language). Cymru, Gaelic and possibly Glaswe are Celtic (Seltic) languages. English, Scots and Norwegian derive from Old Norse.

I will start with the Jacobites because they are the easiest to describe, being a group of English and Scots aristocrats and bishops who preferred the profligacy of James II (VII of Scotland) to the hard money austerity of William of Orange (both of whom were descendants of Henry VII). We are here talking about the throne of England, the throne of Scotland not having much in the way of power or finances. No, kiddies, Bonnie Prince Charlie had no interest whatsoever in an independent Scotland.

Do not worry. Over the next few weeks I can dispatch Duncan the Wicked, his son Malcolm the Fat Head, Malcolm’s English second wife Margaret, Robert the Brus, the Stuarts and anyone else I can skewer.

Charles I had been removed as King by Parliament. The power of Parliament to choose the monarch goes back to the days of Henry VIII and his concern about the Spanish Princess Mary inheriting from him and restoring the bishops to outside control. He had hopes that Edward VI would grow into a powerful monarch destined for greatness, but gave Parliament authority to name Edward’s successor. Instead of naming Henry’s nephew James V of Scotland, They named Henry’s hapless niece Jane Grey, setting her up to last about as long as Macbeth’s successor Lulach. What happened in terms of greatness of Henry’s successors was that the throne eventually devolved on his younger daughter Elizabeth. And while Elizabeth of England eliminated her whiny, manipulative cousin Mary Stuart, when she died the throne went to Mary’s son James VI of Scotland. This was not because his mother was the rightful monarch but because his great-great grandfather was Henry VII—the Stuarts were in the Royal line because they were Tudors.

In 1688, a group of seven nobles persuaded William of Orange, James II’s nephew/son-in-law and his wife Mary to come to England to oust James. Mary believed her new half-brother to be a switch for a stillborn and feared the coming Catholicism. William arrived with his troops, the military switched sides and James, on his second attempt, was able to take a permanent vacation in France. Parliament declared the Throne vacant, disqualified Prince James Edward by disqualifying any Catholic, and made William King. Note: I determining “rightful” monarchs I follow the practical solution of recognizing the prevailing monarch in the fight.

The first Jacobite uprising was led by John Graham of Claverhouse (AKA Bonnie Dundee—see Sir Walter Scott’s notes in Old Mortality). Claverhouse slaughtered a bunch of Presbyterians at Killiecrankie—he enjoyed slaughtering Presbyterians. However, Claverhouse was killed and the movement sputtered.

Jacobites derive that name from Jacobus (Iacobus) Rex—the Latin for King James. The fact is that Parliament prohibited the issue of James II by his second wife from inheriting which left his two daughters, Mary and Anne, and his nephew William of Orange. Following the deaths of William and Mary, Queen Anne assumed the throne. Following the death of Queen Anne’s last son, Parliament passed the 1701 Act of Settlement which provided the English crown, in default of issue from either William or Anne, was settled upon “the most excellent princess Sophia, electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover” and “the heirs of her body, being Protestant.” As it happened, when Queen Anne died without issue in 1714, the crown went to Georg Ludwig, great grandson of James I. So we have the line from the Hanovers to the Stuarts to the Tudors.

Now the throne of England has a history of being transferred by military power. The most famous was in 1066. When Edward the Confessor died there were four claimants. The “rightful monarch,” grandson of Edmund Ironside stayed in Hungary and expected to be called. Harald Hardradi of Denmark invaded from the North, picking up support from Caithness and Orkney. In a fluke he was killed by the troops of Harold Godwinson who then marched his troops south to Hastings where he ran across William of Normandy. William’s Normans had lived in Normandy since his ancestor Ganger Hrolf had made a deal with Charles the Simple for land in exchange for stopping the raiders from the North from viking in Paris. The were basically Norsemen who spoke abominable French. So when George ascended the throne James Francis Edward Stuart, having been recognized as King by Louis XIV in 1702 decided to restore his rights.

The problem is that when you attempt a military solution against a recognized monarch you need a competent army, competent commanders and a coherent plan. Remember that when the Brus went up against Edward II at Bannockburn, he had 300 Norman cavalry stashed in surprise mode and he had more or less popular support. Scotland was not universally Jacobite. The Duke of Argyll had no love for the profligate James II and VII. The Protestant branch of the family had stabilized the economic situation. A note: The Stuarts, like the Brus, were Normans—they tended to crop up in a lot of places as the civilizers of Europe.

Again in 1745-46, there was another major uprising led James Francis Edward’s generally besotted son Charles Edward William Stuart who was half-Polish and raised in Italy. The general reception he got in the west of Scotland was, “Go home.” According to Alex Beaton he replied, “I am-a home.” Alex went for the New York showbiz laugh. Bonnie Prince Charlie had never led an army in combat but that was not a problem because Scots are “natural fighters.” (Note how Robert Brus had heavy French Cavalry and the Scots did not fare that well against the English overall.)

So after getting within striking distance of London, Charlie retreated to Inverness. George called on his own surrogate, his son William, Duke of Cumberland, who had been in military combat for years and was battle hardened. With experienced English and Scots troops he marched north to the climax at Culloden. There was no secret Templar army waiting, only Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobites. The aftermath of the battle—the slaughter of survivors—was carried out by Scots troops, the English not really having much taste for slaughter.

We all know the Skye Boat, the escape in drag courtesy of Flora McDonald in exchange for the Dram Buie recipe, and the later life which would indicate he was not as much into discipline as his Hanoverian cousins. But this little tidbit was in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9211247/DNA-reveals-the-truth-about-Bonnie-Prince-Charlie.html

Evidently there is a gene for profligacy in Cornwall as well.  (Addendum: Well he should have Welsh DNA.  He was a direct descendent of Owen Tudor.)

While the rout a Culloden ended the military threat to the Hanoverian line, there were some sphincters tightened in 1784 when Scottish Episcopal Bishops consecrated Samuel Seabury as Bishop for the Church of North America. Fearing the rise of a Jacobite Church the English Bishops swiftly obtained authorization to consecrate Bishops for the American Church without the oath to support the King.

There are still some “Stuart” claimants, but it is more likely that the monarchy will simply disappear altogether. As I have said, no one recognizes a loser—except maybe other losers.

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