1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/James (the Pretender)
JAMES (James Francis Edward Stuart) (1688–1766), prince of Wales, known to the Jacobites as James III. and to the Hanoverian party as the Old Pretender, the son and heir of James II. of England, was born in St James’s Palace, London, on the 10th of June 1688. The scandalous story that he was a supposititious child, started and spread abroad by interested politicians at the time of his birth, has been completely disproved, and most contemporary writers allude to his striking family likeness to the Royal Stuarts. Shortly before the flight of the king to Sheerness, the infant prince together with his mother was sent to France, and afterwards he continued to reside with his father at the court of St Germain. On the death of his father, on the 16th of September 1701, he was immediately proclaimed king by Louis XIV. of France, but a fantastic attempt to perform a similar ceremony in London so roused the anger of the populace that the mock pursuivants barely escaped with their lives. A bill of attainder against him received the royal assent a few days before the death of William III. in 1702, and the Princess Anne, half-sister of the Pretender, succeeded William on the throne. An influential party still, however, continued to adhere to the Jacobite cause; but an expedition from Dunkirk planned in favour of James in the spring of 1708 failed of success, although the French ships under the comte de Fourbin, with James himself on board, reached the Firth of Forth in safety. At the Peace of Utrecht James withdrew from French territory to Bar-le-Duc in Lorraine. A rebellion in the Highlands of Scotland was inaugurated in September 1715 by the raising of the standard on the braes of Mar, and by the solemn proclamation of James Stuart, “the chevalier of St George,” in the midst of the assembled clans, but its progress was arrested in November by the indecisive battle of Sheriffmuir and by the surrender at Preston. Unaware of the gloomy nature of his prospects, the chevalier landed in December 1715 at Peterhead, and advanced as far south as Scone, accompanied by a small force under the earl of Mar; but on learning of the approach of the duke of Argyll, he retreated to Montrose, where the Highlanders dispersed to the mountains, and he embarked again for France. A Spanish expedition sent out in his behalf in 1719, under the direction of Alberoni, was scattered by a tempest, only two frigates reaching the appointed rendezvous in the island of Lewis.
In 1718 James had become affianced to the young princess Maria Clementina Sobieski, grand-daughter of the warrior king of Poland, John Sobieski. The intended marriage was forbidden by the emperor, who in consequence kept the princess and her mother in honourable confinement at Innsbruck in Tirol. An attempt to abduct the princess by means of a ruse contrived by a zealous Jacobite gentleman, Charles Wogan, proved successful; Clementina reached Italy in safety, and she and James were ultimately married at Montefiascone on the 1st of September 1719. James and Clementina were now invited to reside in Rome at the special request of Pope Clement XI., who openly acknowledged their titles of British King and Queen, gave them a papal guard of troops, presented them with a villa at Albano and a palace (the Palazzo Muti in the Piazza dei Santi Apostoli) in the city, and also made them an annual allowance of 12,000 crowns out of the papal treasury. At the Palazzo Muti, which remained the chief centre of Jacobite intriguing, were born James’s two sons, Charles Edward (the Young Pretender) and Henry Benedict Stuart. James’s married life proved turbulent and unhappy, a circumstance that was principally due to the hot temper and jealous nature of Clementina, who soon after Henry’s birth in 1725 left her husband and spent over two years in a Roman convent. At length a reconciliation was effected, which Clementina did not long survive, for she died at the early age of 32 in February 1735. Full regal honours were paid to the Stuart queen at her funeral, and the splendid but tasteless monument by Pietro Bracchi (1700–1773) in St Peter’s was erected to her memory by order of Pope Benedict XIV.
His wife’s death seems to have affected James’s health and spirits greatly, and he now began to grow feeble and indifferent, so that the political adherents of the Stuarts were gradually led to fix their hopes upon the two young princes rather than upon their father. Travellers to Rome at this period note that James appeared seldom in public, and that much of his time was given up to religious exercises; he was dévot à l’excès, so Charles de Brosses, an unprejudiced Frenchman, informs us. It was with great reluctance that James allowed his elder son to leave Italy for France in 1744; nevertheless in the following year, he permitted Henry to follow his brother’s example, but with the news of Culloden he evidently came to regard his cause as definitely lost. The estrangement from his elder and favourite son, which arose over Henry’s adoption of an ecclesiastical career, so embittered his last years that he sank into a moping invalid and rarely left his chamber. With the crushing failure of the “Forty-five” and his quarrel with his heir, the once-dreaded James soon became a mere cipher in British politics, and his death at Rome on the 2nd of January 1766 passed almost unnoticed in London. He was buried with regal pomp in St Peter’s, where Canova’s famous monument, erected by Pius VII. in 1819, commemorates him and his two sons. As to James’s personal character, there is abundant evidence to show that he was grave, high-principled, industrious, abstemious and dignified, and that the unflattering portrait drawn of him by Thackeray in Esmond is utterly at variance with historical facts. Although a fervent Roman Catholic, he was far more reasonable and liberal in his religious views than his father, as many extant letters testify.
See Earl Stanhope, History of England and Decline of the Last Stuarts (1853); Calendar of the Stuart Papers at Windsor Castle; J. H. Jesse, Memories of the Pretenders and their Adherents (1845); Dr John Doran, ”Mann” and Manners at the Court of Florence (1876); Relazione della morte di Giacomo III., Rè d’Inghilterra; and Charles de Brosses, Lettres sur l’Italie (1885). (H. M. V.)