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Part One - Setting the Stage

King James VII was the last Stuart King to sit on the Scottish throne, click for Larger Image 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 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 (Stuart), click for Larger Image 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.

Covenanters at Communion, click for larger Image 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.

William of Orange was invited to England, click for larger Image 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.

    by Brian Workman, May 2000

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    Thursday, December 26th, 2019

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