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Jacobitism

A.I. Macinnes on the support for the exiled Stewart dynasty after the Glorious Revolution of William III.

James Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender"
James Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender"

From the deposition of James VII in 1689 to the flight in the heather of his grandson – Charles Edward, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' – in the summer of 1746, the restoration of the Stewart dynasty was a major preoccupation of Scottish politics, an irritant to successive British governments and a peripheral theme in European diplomacy.

The fluctuating and rarely coordinated support of France, Spain, Sweden, the papacy and even Peter the Great of Russia, furnished the Jacobite cause with a vital means of finance and prestige. Diplomatic recognition for each of the five Jacobite insurrections – in addition to the major outings of 1689, 1715 and the '45, there were minor flurries in 1708 and 1719 – guaranteed the cause a measure of international respectability. Close surveillance by British governments on known influential Jacobites, which limited opportunities for building up military resources, made foreign arms and money particularly necessary. The deployment of foreign troops, though limited, provided a disciplined professional contrast to the Jacobite irregulars.

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