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Jacobitism, by Dabiel Szechi (2004)

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MessagePosté le: Lun 6 Avr - 06:45 (2009)    Sujet du message: Jacobitism, by Dabiel Szechi (2004) Répondre en citant


Jacobitism was the underground cultural and dynastic movement that supported the restoration of the main line of the Stuart dynasty to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland.


Jacobitism took its name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James, and stemmed directly from the Revolution of 1688 (also known as the Glorious Revolution, the English Revolution, or the Bloodless Revolution), in which the Catholic James II (ruled 1685–1688) was overthrown by a Dutch invasion (led by his Protestant nephew and son-in-law William of Orange, subsequently William III [ruled 1689–1702]) and widespread rebellion in England. James II, who became convinced he was liable to be murdered by the supporters of the Revolution, known as Revolutioners, fled to France in December 1688. There he found a refuge at the royal palace of St. Germain en Laye and (at least intermittent) support from Louis XIV (ruled 1643–1715), who saw in James's cause an opportunity to display his credentials as an upholder of both monarchical government and the Counter-Reformation. When support for James and the Jacobite cause did not conflict with his other objectives, Louis provided substantial military resources to back attempts to restore James II and subsequently his only surviving son, "James III" (the Old Pretender, a sobriquet fixed on him by Whig propagandists). These attempts began in March 1689 when James II and a small French force landed at Kinsale in Ireland. The Catholicizing regime brought in while James was king was at that point still in control of most of the island, but serious rebellions had broken out against his authority in Ulster, where Irish Protestant rebels had seized the towns of Londonderry and Enniskillen and were holding out for the newly proclaimed King William III. Despite the goodwill of the great majority of his Catholic Irish subjects, James proved unable to construct the administrative and military infrastructure necessary to maintain the large army of volunteers he found waiting for him in Ireland. This was in part the result of Ireland's relative poverty and in part that of a rift between James's objectives and those of the leaders of the Irish Catholic community. Whereas James simply sought to turn Ireland into a steppingstone for his reconquest of England, the Irish Catholic political nation wanted the overturning of the post-1660 land settlement, which had left nearly 80 percent of Ireland in the hands of the descendants of earlier Protestant colonists, and the sharp attenuation of the constitutional power of the English Parliament to dictate policy and law to Ireland's Parliament. The upshot was that Londonderry and Enniskillen were never retaken, and the Irish Jacobite army was in a poor state to face William III when he landed in Ireland with a large veteran army in the summer of 1690. At the battle of the Boyne on 1 July, William defeated James and routed his army. James fled the country on 3 July, ungratefully (and unfairly) blaming the Irish for the disaster. With the help of French reinforcements, resistance continued in the west of Ireland until 12 July 1691, when the Jacobite army was again defeated at the battle of Aughrim and forced to fall back on its last stronghold at Limerick. After a brief siege, the defenders of Limerick surrendered on 3 October 1691 on generous terms that allowed the evacuation of 12,000 of them to France, where they subsequently became the basis of the elite Irish brigade that served the Bourbons until 1789. With the collapse of Irish Jacobite resistance, the Highland rebellion it had inspired in Scotland also came to an end. There, after an unexpectedly good start when James Graham, Viscount Dundee, defeated a Williamite army at Killiecrankie on 17 July 1689 (despite the fact that he himself was killed in the closing moments of the battle), the war in Scotland had settled into a bitter pattern of raid and counterraid that bankrupted the Scottish state and ravaged the Highlands without reaching any conclusion. Hearing of the surrender of Limerick and with it the end of any hope of reinforcement from Ireland, the Scottish Jacobites negotiated a cessation in the autumn of 1691. Brinksmanship over the taking of oaths of loyalty to the Williamite regime by several clan chieftains, and bad faith combined with malice on the part of key government officials, then led to a punitive expedition against the technically holdout Macdonalds of Glencoe. The troops entrusted with the operation duplicitously quartered themselves on the Macdonalds and then on the night of 13 February 1692 perpetrated an infamous massacre on their hosts that shocked the Scottish political nation.

From 1691 until the death of Louis XIV in 1715 Jacobitism in the British Isles revolved around plotting for risings against the new order. Louis several times (1692, 1696, and 1708) provided troops and ships to support and/or precipitate a Jacobite rising, but on each occasion matters went awry. The major obstacles to a French invasion were the Royal Navy, the unpredictability of the weather, and the difficulty of coordinating a rising in England or Scotland with a French invasion. Basically, the Jacobites wanted a French landing first, after which they would rise, while the French wanted a Jacobite rising first, after which they would land. In addition, the French navy, facing mounting odds in its struggle with the Royal Navy and its Dutch allies in both the War of the League of Augsburg (1688–1697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1714), was increasingly reluctant to undertake an operation that would be tantamount to a death ride for the ships and crews involved. In between plotting for invasions, the Jacobites sought with equal energy to subvert and undermine the post-Revolution political order through propaganda and conventional politics, both at Westminster and on the streets. Throughout the reign of Queen Anne (1702–1714), the Jacobites were somewhat more restrained in their plotting than under William III, partly out of liking for the pious Tory queen, and partly out of the mistaken belief that she favored the restoration on her death of the main line of the Stuarts, in the shape of her half-brother, the Old Pretender.

As she lay dying in August 1714, however, Anne ensured that the Act of Succession of 1702 would be enforced, and rather than the Old Pretender succeeding, her Parliament-approved successor, George, elector of Hanover (a distant, but reliably Protestant, relative) peacefully inherited the throne. For Continental political reasons George I (ruled 1714–1727) had aligned himself with the Whigs in the bitter parliamentary struggles of Queen Anne's last years, and when it subsequently became clear that he would continue to favor the Whigs, the Tories rapidly became alienated. The process began when the Whigs took the first opportunity to be revenged on their old enemies in a series of parliamentary impeachments of members of Queen Anne's last, Tory, ministry. This drove a significant minority of the Tories into the arms of the Jacobites. Meanwhile, in Scotland support for the Jacobite cause had been boosted by the constitutional union of Scotland and England (which was primarily driven by English determination to ensure that Scotland adhered to the Hanoverian succession), forced through the Scots Parliament in 1706–1707, which had outraged a great many Scots. Thus when England erupted in Tory/Jacobite rioting in the summer of 1715, the Scots Jacobites, led by John Erskine, the earl of Mar, felt emboldened to rebel in September. The rebels rapidly won control of most of northern Scotland, more by dint of the fact that the Whig ministry was determined to secure southern England and so kept the bulk of the army there, than by their own abilities. Though Mar was able to build up a formidable force at Perth that far outnumbered the government army at Stirling, he was paralyzed by indecision. It appears that he expected to be quickly reinforced and replaced as commander by Jacobite professional officers in French pay, most notably James Fitzjames, duke of Berwick and marshal of France, and had no idea what to do in the interim. When forced by a conclave of Jacobite leaders to march south, he was met by the government army under John Campbell, duke of Argyll, at Sherrifmuir on 13 November. A battle ensued which Argyll may be said to have won insofar as the core of his army survived despite being outnumbered in the region of three to one. Mar retreated north, back to Perth. He was joined there at the end of December by the Old Pretender, who had finally managed to slip through a dragnet of British agents and Royal Navy warships to get to Scotland. The Old Pretender's arrival, however, closely coincided with the commencement of a winter campaign by Argyll, which took Perth in three days and chased the dwindling Jacobite army north. On 4 February 1716 at Montrose, Mar and the Old Pretender took ship for the Continent. What was left of the Jacobite army retreated north into the Highlands, and within a month the government was back in control of the whole of Scotland. A small Jacobite rising in northern England in October–November 1715 was trapped and forced to surrender at Preston on 14 November.

The collapse of the 1715 rebellion initiated a long period of fruitless plotting and dashed hopes. For thirty years plots were hatched in the British Isles while Jacobite diplomats from the shadow court sought the military backing of a European great power. At various times Sweden, Spain, the Habsburgs, Russia, and France negotiated with them, either to put diplomatic pressure on Britain or out of genuine sympathy. Only Spain, in a moment of desperate crisis during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720), actually attempted an invasion of Britain, but it was forced back by storms on 18 March 1719. A separate, diversionary Spanish force led by the Earl Marischal managed to reach Lewis on 9 April, and subsequently raised a small rebellion in the Highlands, but the Jacobite army was defeated at Glenshiel on 5 June, which put an end to the affair. Only in the 1740s, as virtually all of the great powers became involved in the War of the Austrian Succession, did real openings for Jacobite diplomacy reemerge. Negotiations inaugurated by the leaders of a faction among the Tories led in due course to French preparations for an invasion, to be backed up by a Tory/Jacobite rising, in February 1744. Once again a storm and the Royal Navy prevented French and Jacobite plans from coming to fruition.

The Old Pretender's oldest son, though, had been secretly invited to France from Rome, where his father was by this time in exile, to head the invasion force. Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie) was a young man in a hurry, and when the French abandoned their invasion plans in favor of renewed campaigning in Flanders he opted to try and go it alone. With the help of Irish merchants, well established in the ports of western France, he surreptitiously gathered a force of volunteers from the Irish brigades and arms for many more and invaded Scotland in the summer of 1745. By various mishaps he arrived on Eriskay in the Hebrides on 23 July with only one ship, few arms, and little money, and was promptly advised to go home by local Jacobite leaders. Using his considerable charm Charles Edward broke down their resistance, and within a month was on the march with a small, but growing, force composed primarily of Highland clansmen. In a whirlwind campaign commanded mainly by Lord George Murray, the Jacobites were able to capture Edinburgh, apart from the castle, and rout a government army at Prestonpans on 21 September. After gathering further recruits, Charles Edward cajoled the Scots Jacobite leaders into undertaking an invasion of England that swept as far south as Derby by 5 December, causing panic in London and a crisis of confidence in the Whig ministry. The premise of the campaign was, however, that if they were shown what the Scots could achieve, the French would invade and the English Jacobites would rise. Neither transpired. The French government was desperately throwing together another invasion force, but it was not ready to depart until the very end of December, and the English Jacobites dithered until the opportunity had passed. So at a council of war in Derby on 5 December 1745 Charles Edward was forced to turn back by his commanders. Despite the Jacobite prince's sour obstructionism, the Jacobite army reached Scotland safely on 20 December, and there regrouped in time to defeat another government army at Falkirk on 17 January 1746. The victory could not, though, hold back the numbers of government troops converging on southern Scotland, and the Jacobites were forced to retreat into northern Scotland. At the insistence of Charles Edward, the Jacobite army ill-advisedly tried to make a stand at Culloden on 16 April 1746 and was badly defeated there by a government force commanded by William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, second son of George II. Even so, the Jacobite army rallied at Ruthven and offered to fight on, but was abandoned by Charles Edward, who chose to try to escape to France. The Jacobite army dispersed and when several Highland chieftains refused to comply with Cumberland's demand that they surrender unconditionally, Cumberland launched a savage campaign of repression that ravaged the Highlands and is still bitterly remembered throughout Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. Charles Edward was meanwhile sheltered by sympathizers in the Highlands and eventually escaped to France, arriving there on 30 September 1746.

The failure of the '45 is usually taken as the death knell of the Jacobite movement, but in fact Jacobite plotting and negotiations with great powers such as France, Prussia, and Spain continued into the late 1750s. The defeat of the rebellion sapped the Jacobites' strength and credibility in Scotland, yet there was still a strong Jacobite diaspora loyal to the Stuart cause in France and Spain. The last Jacobite invasion attempt, which was largely the brainchild of Arthur Tollendal, comte de Lally, commander of the Irish brigade, was only defeated by the victory of the Royal Navy at the battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759. Charles Edward eventually succeeded his father as the Jacobite "Charles III" in January 1766, by which time he was a paranoid, bitter alcoholic. Though he lingered until 30 January 1788, the Jacobite cause may fairly be said to have been dead by that time.


The threat to the post-Revolutionary order posed by the Jacobites is the subject of much debate among historians. The debate ultimately revolves around the level of support they enjoyed in the three kingdoms. Since those who expressed Jacobite sympathies in any form were liable to severe punishment, we can never know exactly how many English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish truly favored the restoration of the Stuarts. Our only tangible measures are the numbers who turned out to fight in rebellions, and records of crown prosecutions of suspected Jacobites. Moreover, the numbers yielded by even these sources are obviously flawed. How many Jacobite soldiers were obliged to fight against their own inclinations, by their clan chieftains or landlords, or, conversely, would have joined a Jacobite army if one had passed nearby? How many Jacobite ballad singers, roisterers, or rioters escaped prosecution by the crown? We have, therefore, to assume that both the numbers of Jacobites in arms and the numbers caught committing Jacobite crimes are merely the tip of an iceberg. That said, it seems likely that the strongest support for Jacobitism lay in Scotland and Ireland. In England and Wales there was a small Nonjuror church that split with the Church of England over its acceptance of William III as monarch in 1689. This church remained loyal to the Stuarts to the very end, and its adherents shaded over into the more extreme, High Church wing of the Church of England, but the best guess would put their numbers combined at less than 5 percent of the English and Welsh population. To this we must add the small Catholic minority, which comprised around 2.5 percent of the population by the eighteenth century. There may well have been further sympathizers, but it is impossible to even guess at their numbers, which makes an estimate of 5–10 percent of the English population inclined to Jacobitism as good as we can get.

In Scotland the situation was quite different. The Episcopal clergy forced out of the Presbyterian Kirk in the 1690s soon established their own independent church that from the start adhered to the Stuarts. In large parts of the Highlands and in Lowland Scotland north of the Tay, this church probably included a majority of the population, and may have amounted to 30–40 percent of the population of Scotland as a whole in the early eighteenth century. In addition, the tiny Catholic minority (1–2 percent of the population), which tended to be concentrated in particular clans, were steadfast Jacobites. To this number we should add a small minority of Presbyterians who were so incensed by the Union of England and Scotland bulldozed through the Scottish Parliament in 1706–1707 that they tended to be inclined to Jacobitism thereafter. Deducting neutralist/loyalist Episcopalians, maybe as many as 30 percent of Scots were inclined to support the Jacobites.

Ireland, by contrast, was a Jacobite hotbed. Because there were no further Jacobite rebellions there after 1691, many historians have been skeptical about the depth of Irish Jacobitism, mainly because they based their analyses on partial, and misleading, English-language sources. In fact, Irish (Gaelic) sources reveal a general enthusiasm for the Jacobite cause among the majority, Catholic, population despite the shabby treatment of the Catholic Irish by James II and the Stuart dynasty as a whole. Since it is generally accepted that about 75 percent of the Irish population was Catholic in the period 1692–1800, this would make Ireland the key bastion of Jacobitism in the British Isles. This assessment is underscored by the flow of recruits out of Ireland to join the Irish brigades in French and Spanish service. Though some of them were seeking only adventure or an escape from poverty and discrimination, many more were recruited with the promise that they would soon return to the British Isles as part of a victorious army led by their rightful (Stuart) king. The Irish brigades were, in spirit, the Stuarts' army in exile, and certainly tens of thousands of young Irishmen slipped overseas to join them between 1692 and 1760.


Jacobitism was the bane of the post-Revolutionary political order for the first seventy years of its existence. The new order was no more certain of the number of secret Jacobites than we are and oscillated between a general concern and outright panic with respect to how to deal with the threat they posed. Jacobite plotting and invasion attempts in concert with one or another European great power punctuated political life. On average there was a Jacobite-related political "event" every one or two years between 1689 and 1730 and one every three or four years between 1730 and 1760. Always lurking on the fringes of possibility was the chance that the Jacobites would get a European great power's backing, successfully land in Britain, and coordinate a general uprising in support of the Stuart cause. Rather than run the risk of this nightmare scenario ever happening, the ministers of successive post-Revolution regimes worked to forestall Jacobite diplomacy in Europe by alliances and treaties, built up their military forces, and ferreted out conspiracy in the British Isles. In terms, then, of both the dynamics of politics and the development of the British fiscal-military state Jacobitism had a profound influence. Though it started as an expression of dynastic loyalty, Jacobitism came to act as a vehicle for nationalistic aspirations. In Scotland and Ireland a Stuart restoration was linked to the restoration of lost sovereignty and the reattainment of a golden age. If for no other reason, Jacobitism's acting as a conduit for such sentiments among the subsumed polities of the British Isles justifies its inclusion among the most important phenomena of the eighteenth century.

See also Anne (England); George I (Great Britain); George II (Great Britain); Glorious Revolution (Britain); Hanoverian Dynasty (Great Britain); Scotland.

Baynes, John. The Jacobite Rising of 1715. London, 1970.

Bennett, Gareth V. The Tory Crisis in Church and State: The Career of Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester 1688–1730. Oxford, 1975.

Black, Jeremy. Culloden and the '45. New York, 1990.

Clark, Jonathan C. D. "On Moving the Middle Ground: The Significance of Jacobitism in Historical Studies." In The Jacobite Challenge, edited by Eveline Cruickshanks and Jeremy Black, pp. 177–188. Edinburgh, 1988.

Cruickshanks, Eveline. Political Untouchables: The Tories and the '45. London, 1979.

Fritz, Paul S. The English Ministers and Jacobitism between the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. Toronto, 1975.

Gregg, Edward. "The Jacobite Career of John, Earl of Mar." In Ideology and Conspiracy: Aspects of Jacobitism, 1689–1759, edited by Eveline Cruickshanks, pp. 179–200. Edinburgh, 1982.

Hopkins, Paul. Glencoe and the End of the Highland War. Edinburgh, 1986.

Jarvis, Rupert. Collected Papers on the Jacobite Risings. 2 vols. Manchester, U.K., and New York, 1972.

Lenman, Bruce. The Jacobite Risings in Britain 1689–1746. London, 1980.

Macinnes, Allan I. Clanship, Commerce and the House of Stuart, 1603–1788. East Linton, Scotland, 1996.

McLynn, Frank J. Charles Edward Stuart: A Tragedy in Many Acts. London and New York, 1988.

——. France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Edinburgh, 1981.

Monod, Paul K. Jacobitism and the English People 1688–1788. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1989.

ó Ciardha, Éamonn. Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 1685–1766: A Fatal Attachment. Dublin, 2002.

Pittock, Murray G. The Myth of the Jacobite Clans. Edinburgh, 1995.

——. Poetry and Jacobite Politics in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland. Cambridge, U.K., 1994.

Szechi, Daniel. George Lockhart of Carnwath, 1689–1727: A Study in Jacobitism. East Linton, Scotland, 2002.

——. The Jacobites. Britain and Europe, 1688–1788. Manchester, U.K., 1994.

——. Jacobitism and Tory Politics, 1710–14. Edinburgh, 1984.

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