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This book is about a lost moment in British, and especially Scots, history. It explores in detail the events of 1708. The book uses this as a platform to analyse the dynamics of the Jacobite movement, the English/British government's response to the Jacobites' activities and the way the Jacobites interacted with the French government. Grand historical theses need, however, to be well grounded in the nitty-gritty of human affairs. The book offers a detailed narrative of the execution of the Enterprise of Scotland. It introduces the reader to the operation's climactic moment and at the same time corrects misapprehensions about it that have crept in to the historiography that touches on the operation proper. The book also offers a new interpretation of the role of Queen Mary of Modena as de facto regent and thus director of the movement in the early eighteenth century. It highlights the unusually prominent role played by particular Scots noblewomen, such as Anne Drummond, countess of Erroll, and Elizabeth Howard, duchess of Gordon, in the conspiracy leading to the '08. In a context set by a desperate, epic global war and the angry, febrile politics of early eighteenth-century Scotland, the book contends that Britain was on the cusp of a military and constitutional upheaval.
The product of forty years of research by one of the foremost historians of Jacobitism, this book is a comprehensive revision of Professor Szechi’s popular 1994 survey of the Jacobite movement in the British Isles and Europe. Like the first edition, it is undergraduate-friendly, providing an enhanced chronology, a convenient introduction to the historiography and a narrative of the history of Jacobitism, alongside topics specifically designed to engage student interest. This includes Jacobitism as a uniting force among the pirates of the Caribbean and as a key element in sustaining Irish peasant resistance to English imperial rule. As the only comprehensive introduction to the field, the book will be essential reading for all those interested in early modern British and European politics.
The failure of the great Jacobite rising of 1715 made it clear the Jacobites could not overthrow the Whig regime without outside support. The Jacobite government-in-exile therefore doggedly pursued every diplomatic opportunity to ally itself with Britain’s enemies for the next forty-three years. As well as the underground struggle in the British Isles there was accordingly a momentous diplomatic struggle between the Stuart court in Rome and the British government. The Jacobite King James and his emissaries sought to persuade the great powers of Europe they could be useful allies in defeating, even potentially destroying, Britain as a great power; the British government attempted by conciliation, intimidation and war to persuade its peers to shun its Jacobite enemies. The British government prevailed most of the time, but in 1719 and 1743–8 it failed and Jacobite risings followed.
The period after the Hanoverian succession in 1714 presented the Jacobites with new opportunities which they attempted to exploit by a major uprising in 1715. Despite widespread support for the Jacobite cause (particularly in Scotland because of the Union) George I and the Whig Ascendancy that came in with him were able to hold on to power and comprehensively defeat their Jacobite enemies. In the aftermath the Jacobites had to reconstruct the movement in England and Scotland and find a way to overthrow the Hanoverian kings and their Whig ministers. This led to the English Jacobites’ Atterbury plot in 1720–2, the discovery of which, and the arrests that followed, shattered the movement there for a generation. Meanwhile the Irish Jacobites waged their own cultural struggle against the English-controlled government of Ireland with considerably more success, and Scots Jacobitism steadily revived as a consequence of the Whig regime’s continued failure to deal effectively with Scotland’s grievances as a consequence of the Union.
The three kingdoms were at war for nineteen of the twenty-five years that followed the Revolution of 1688 and it was in this context that the Jacobites developed an underground movement in each of the three kingdoms and a shadow-government-in-exile. These sought to undermine the new order by political and propaganda subversion and to overthrow it by violent uprisings. But the Jacobite shadow-government and the Jacobite movement in each kingdom faced different problems and was presented with different opportunities. The Jacobite court was the site of a prolonged struggle between the movement’s Protestant and Catholic parties, while each kingdom’s Jacobites responded to the opportunities and problems they faced in different ways and with different levels of success. Hence the creation of a pragmatic government-in-exile, the decline of Jacobitism in England, the consolidation of the Jacobite base in Ireland and the development there of a culture of resistance, and the rise of Jacobitism in Scotland as a consequence of the constitutional Union of England and Scotland in 1707.
The Jacobites were part and parcel of the regular social hierarchy and social order within the British Isles, and the social dynamics of eighteenth-century society in the British Isles are accordingly sketched here. The Jacobites, however, developed a strong subculture which separated the core elements of the movement from the mainstream. In effect the key constituencies: the Catholics, the Nonjurors and the Tory/Anglicans within this subculture then became part of a distinct milieu that sustained a deep, generation on generation opposition to the prevailing order even to the point of death.
The origins of the Jacobite movement lay in the Revolution of 1688, a confessional Revolution that drove out the Catholic James II and VII and his family. Like most revolutions this was a traumatic event, inaugurating profound changes in the nature of politics and government. This chapter correspondingly explores the Jacobites’ role in terms of both resisting the new order through civil war in Ireland and Scotland and by allying themselves with the new order’s enemies in Europe. The strains and difficulties of winning the war at home and abroad then forced the Williamite regime to take measures to defeat them that compromised its initial objectives and disillusioned key elements in the Revolution’s support base.
Historians have approached Jacobitism in many different ways, and here they are divided up into three groups: the optimists, who assume that the Jacobites were an important political movement that could have succeeded; the pessimists, who accept they were important but doubt they could have succeeded; and the rejectionists, who regard time spent studying Jacobitism as time wasted. The chapter then outlines the historiography of the subject and describes new developments in the field, most notably the explosion of work on Irish Jacobitism, the role of women in the movement and Jacobitism in America and the empire.
Like many other dissident movements Jacobitism began with a set of fundamental beliefs and only over time developed a full-blown political agenda. Jacobite ideology had three distinct (sometimes contradictory) strands arising from its separate roots in English, Irish and Scots society. There was also a quiet divergence between an official, elite agenda and the popular Jacobitism of the common people. Over time each kingdom’s Jacobites then became progressively more and more radical as the solutions they sought for contemporary political, economic and social problems diverged further and further from the mainstream of socio-political developments.
There were two forms of Jacobite exile: a physical one overseas and a spiritual one at home. In the aftermath of defeat in the British Isles waves of Jacobites fled into exile in Europe and the wider world and had there to make new lives for themselves. Some did so by becoming pirates who made a living by attacking the British merchant marine, but mainly the exiles became soldiers, entrepreneurs and merchants in the service of other European great powers. Tens of thousands of young men also chose voluntarily to leave Ireland (and to a lesser extent Scotland) to enlist in the Irish brigades in France and Spain. These multi-layered ethnic and geographic constituencies created an overseas Jacobite community that was loyal to the exiled Stuarts and sought to sustain and further the Jacobite cause through their networks and influence on the Continent and elsewhere. Back in the British Isles, the waning of the Jacobite community and the final collapse of the cause after 1759 dispersed the movement politically, but the hostility to the prevailing order the cause had engendered among them was transmitted by old Jacobites into new causes and further opposition to the Whig regime.