BL16 - Page 36

he might well have lived out his life on
the throne; after all, he was the rightful
King, even if allegiance to him came
through gritted teeth. But once he had
a son, who would be brought up a
Catholic, the Old Pretender had to go.
It is crucial to remember that in the
1680s, religion was a matter of life and
death. In 1685, Louis XIV had revoked
the Edict of Nantes, and then subjected
French Protestants to brutal persecution.
Many Huguenot refugees had reached
England to tell their tales. In 1641,
Protestants had been massacred in
Ireland. Less than fifty years later, James
was threatening to use Irish Catholic
soldiers to coerce London. Bloody Mary
was only 130 years in the past, her
memory kept alive by Foxe’s Book of
Martyrs. Most Anglicans believed in the
Divine Right of Kings – and their own
Church. So when that Church was
threatened by a King whom God had
anointed, their loyalties were on the
rack. Some believed the myth that the
Old Pretender had been smuggled into
Whitehall in a warming-pan. Others just
had to agonise. Mary’s many qualities,
and her father’s lack of them, persuaded
enough of the political class to favour
anti-Catholicism over legitimacy.
On 19 August 1745,
Bonnie Prince Charlie
mustered an army from
surrounding Highland
clans and raised the
Royal Standard at
Glenfinnan (right), in
the heart of Clanranald
territory, to claim the
British throne for his
father, James III.To
celebrate, he gave the
assembled clans copious
quantities of French
brandy – for back then,
malt whisky as we know
it today did not exist.
Uisge beatha – Gaelic
for “water of life” – was
illicitly distilled in the
Highlands in small
quantities and not aged
or diluted. Compared
to today’s magnificent
versions, it was raw,
brutal hooch – no
wonder cognac and
brandy were more
commonly drunk.
As long as the
Highlands were
enemies of Great
Britain could
exploit this
et legitimacy remained a problem.
There was still a widespread
belief that the Royal succession
was a sacred ordinance, not to be
tampered with by Acts of Parliament or
aristocratic coups. For 25 years, this
mattered less. Mary and her younger
sister Anne were both Royal daughters.
But Mary had no children – William
danced at the wrong end of the ballroom
– while Anne’s 19 all died in infancy.
When she died in 1714, legitimacy
returned to centre stage; James VI and I
had a daughter, the Winter Queen, who
married the Elector of Bohemia. That
union produced the dashing Princes
Rupert and Maurice, who fought
gallantly but unavailingly for their
uncle, Charles I. Their sister, Sophia,
married into the House of Hanover; in
1714, her son George, the Elector of
Hanover, was the head of that line.
There were two problems, however.
Charles I also had a daughter, Henrietta,
whose claim was superior to Princess
Elizabeth’s, as Princess Anne’s would be
to Princess Maragaret’s. Princess
Henrietta married into the House of
Right: The defeat of the
Jacobite Army at the
Battle of Culloden on
16 April 1746 ended the
third Jacobite Rebellion
– and 600 years of the
Highland clan system
of local government.
The clans who had
supported the Stuarts
were cruelly suppressed
and the Gaelic language,
the kilt and some clans
were banned.The name
MacGregor was made
illegal on pain of death.
Savoy and then there was double
trouble. First, she and her descendants
were all Catholics so they could not
succeed to the throne: Parliament had
passed the Act of Succession, which
forbade it. Second, to use a word used
by T.S. Eliot – and no-one else – these
Savoy/Stuart crosses were
polyphiloprogenitive. Or to translate
into the argot of the black North of
Ireland: They bred like Papists.
By 1714 when he became King,
George of Hanover was fifty-fourth in
line to the throne of Great Britain. He
was also an unprepossessing fellow, and
spoke no English – not a loss to the
English language. He had two
mistresses, whom the London crowd
promptly nicknamed the Elephant and
the Maypole. There was also a wife. But
years earlier, she had taken a lover. Who
could blame her? Her husband. The
lover was put to death and she spent the
rest of her life confined in a fortress.
All this was a gift to the Jacobites, as
the followers of the Old Pretender were
known. One Jacobite song referred to
“the wee German lairdie” who had been
working in his kailyard (kitchen garden)
when he was brought news of his
succession. A lot of English Catholics
found it hard to accept the new King. In
the Scottish Highlands most of the Clans
were still loyal to the Stuarts.
This was Jacobitism’s greatest
opportunity and it was thrown away.
Personalities were the key. The Old
Pretender, unimpressive in person,
arrived in Scotland far too late. His
commander, “Bobbing John”, the Earl
of Mar, was neither a statesman nor a
general, and he was up against a man
with claims to both accolades: John
Campbell, the Duke of Argyle, possessed
the qualities that had made his clan
both respected and feared. Ruthless,
decisive and formidable, he was far too
much for poor, hapless Bobbing John.

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