James Francis Edward Stuart

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Alexis Simon Belle : James Francis Edward Stuart, painting around 1712
Antonio David : James Francis Edward Stuart, painting around 1720
Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

James Francis Edward Stuart , called the Old Pretender , (born June 10, 1688 in St James's Palace , † January 1, 1766 in Rome ) was pretender to the throne of the Scottish and English thrones from the House of Stuart . He was the son of James II of England and his second (Catholic) wife, Maria Beatrice of Modena . He was called Jacob III by his followers, the Jacobites . designated by England and James VIII of Scotland .


Jacob II had two grown daughters from his first marriage, Maria and Anne , who had been raised Protestants. As it was expected that they would succeed him on the throne, the British accepted his rule even though he was a Catholic. But when his second Catholic wife, Maria Beatrice von Modena, gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward, on June 10, 1688, a large part of the English ruling class feared his successor, as the newborn heir to the throne was baptized Catholic and therefore did not belong to the Church of England . So there was the prospect of permanent Catholic rule in England. The reign of the Catholic Bloody Mary , Queen Mary I , and St. Bartholomew's Night in France were the nightmare of most English people.

Immediately after the prince's birth, doubts arose about his legitimacy ; in reality he was not a biological son of Jacob, but a child put on his mother by the Jesuits . Although she was only 29 years old when he was born, she had already had eleven births (including six miscarriages), none of which was alive; an only son had only lived for a month in 1677, but at that time Charles II was still on the throne and there was a possibility that he would have children. Four years after James Francis Edward, the mother was to give birth to a daughter, Louisa Maria . Since, from the point of view of the aristocratic opposition, there were no neutral witnesses for the birth (although traditionally important functionaries and many noblemen were present and this was also recorded), Maria and Anne were also convinced that these rumors were true. On June 30, 1688, twenty days after the heir to the throne was born, seven British magnates demanded Jacob's son-in-law Wilhelm III. letter from Orange to intervene in England. In the so-called Glorious Revolution , James II was deposed. Therefore, the English queen brought her son to safety in France in December 1688.

There in the castle Saint-Germain-en-Laye , James Francis Edward Stuart grew up with his youngest sister Louisa Maria and was recognized by Louis XIV as the rightful heir to the throne of Jacob II. So the Jacobites were formed as the group who supported his claim to the throne. In 1697, however, Louis XIV concluded with Wilhelm III. the peace of Rijswijk .

After the death of Jacob II, James Francis Edward Stuart was named James III by his followers in 1701. proclaimed king by England and James VIII of Scotland. But because of his Catholic faith he was rejected and excluded from the line of succession by the Act of Settlement of 1701. On March 2, 1702, he was ostracized by a parliamentary resolution and thus formally stripped of all British nobility titles.

In 1707, Scotland was united with England to form the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Act of Union . In March 1708, James Francis Edward Stuart set sail from Dunkerque with a French fleet under Claude de Forbin to assert his claims to the throne against the ruling Queen Anne, his half-sister. He hoped for support from the Scots, who rejected the Union. However, the landing on the Firth of Forth did not succeed. Pursued by English ships led by Admiral George Byng , the fleet fled back to France.

After Queen Anne's death, under the Act of Settlement, George I of Hanover was installed as king instead of James Francis Edward Stuart and the House of Hanover installed as the British royal house instead of the House of Stuart. This began the Jacobite revolt known as The Fifteen . On December 15, 1715, shortly after his supporters were defeated at the Battle of Sheriffmuir , James Francis Edward Stuart landed in Peterhead . After his arrival, however, he fell ill, spent the winter in the Scone Palace and left on February 5, 1716, as contrary to his expectations only a few Scots supported him.

On his return to France, his supporter Louis XIV had died. According to the Treaty of Utrecht, the English pretender to the throne was no longer tolerated in the country. James Francis Edward Stuart moved with his Jacobite court in exile to papal territory near Avignon . After the death of his mother Queen Maria Beatrice in 1718, Pope Clement XI invited him . In 1719 he finally entered Rome . On September 3, 1719 he married the granddaughter of Johann III there. of Poland , Maria Clementina Sobieska . From this marriage came the sons Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart , who later became Cardinal and Bishop of Frascati, who, like his older brother, also claimed the British throne. James Francis Edward Stuart himself rarely left Rome and received an official state funeral after his death. He is buried in St. Peter's Basilica with his wife and sons . During his time in Italy he was permanently monitored by agents of the English crown, including Philipp von Stosch .


James Francis Edward Stuart and Maria Sobieska had two sons:

See also

Web links

Commons : James Francis Edward Stuart  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files


  1. ^ Eckhart Hellmuth: Wilhelm III. and Maria II (1689-1702 and 1689-1694). In: Peter Wende (ed.): English kings and queens. C. H. Beck. Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-43391-X , p. 165.
  2. ^ Alison Weir: Britain's Royal Families. The Complete Genealogy. The Bodley Head, London 1999, p. 261.
  3. sometimes the 13th of March (e.g. Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: FO. 2007, p. 353 or John Hely Owen: War at Sea Under Queen Anne 1702-1708. Cambridge 2010, p. 238ff ) and sometimes the March 23 (e.g. The Cambridge Modern History, Volume 6. 1909, p. 93 ("March 23 (March 12, OS")) or Spencer C. Tucker: A Global Chronology of Conflict. 2009, p. 705 ) - on the morning of the 13th according to the Julian calendar (which was valid in the UK until 1752 ) the French fleet is driven out, see: George Lockhart: Memoirs Concerning the Affairs of Scotland ... With an Account of the Origine and Progress of the Design'd Invasion from France, in March, 1708. London 1714, p. 371
predecessor Office successor
New title created
(until 1685: Charles Stuart )
Prince of Wales
Duke of Cornwall
Earl of Chester
Title forfeited
(from 1714: Georg August von Hannover )
James II./VII. Jacobite pretender to the throne
Charles III