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Who was the Old Pretender

01:00 Mon 09th Jul 2001 |

The Old Pretender
A.James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766), born in St James's Palace, London, the son of King James II (1633-1701).< xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Q.So the pretender bit comes in ... where

A.James II was deposed te next year in what was called the Glorious Revolution. Any sons would becoming pretenders - ie unsuccessful claimants to the throne.

Q.Are you going to tell me about that first

A.Oh all right. Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 after a time of radical nonconformism. The revived monarchy was greeted with jubilation - but with suspicion that the Stuarts were secret Catholics. Charles II increased this distrust by refusing to respond to Parliament, by tolerating Catholic dissent, and by favouring alliances with Catholic kingdoms in Europe. The king's brother, the Duke of York, was known to be Catholic and a parliamentary group - the Whigs - was formed to try to stop him succeeding to the throne.

Q.And who's the Duke of York

A.James. And he did become King James II on the death of his brother in 1685.

Q.And his opponents got rid of him

A.Yes. Seven Whig and Tory leaders invited the Dutch prince William of Orange and his wife Mary - James's Protestant daughter - to rule England. William and an army landed at Torbay, Devon. James's forces deserted him, and James fled to France in December 1688. (He was caught leaving by some fisherman and kept prisoner in a Kent town for some time, but I'll tell that tale at a later date). His running away was treated as abdication and in early 1689 William and Mary accepted Parliament's invitation to rule as joint sovereigns. An act was passed barring Catholics from the throne.

Q.So this is where the Old Pretender comes in

A.Yes. Ex-King James II died in exile in 1701 and young James became the focus of the Jacobite (pro-Stuart) cause. He was recognised by France as King James III of England. He gained more support back in England after the 1707 Act of Union formed Great Britain.

Q.Did he try to get the crown back

A.Yes. He led an expedition in 1708, but this was aborted before landing in Scotland. The Hanoverian succession in 1714 - where a German king (George I) who spoke no English was crowned in preference to the Stuarts - again increased support for the Jacobite cause.

Q.So what happened

A.The Scots felt particularly aggrieved. It was thought that 90 per cent of them would support overthrowing George I. John Erskine, Earl of Mar was not given the position of office he expected from George, so in 1715 he raised the Jacobite standard in Braemar and drew huge support.This was the beginning of the first Jacobite Rising, also called the 'Fifteen'. It was ill-timed, badly led and failed miserably. On 13 November, the Jacobites faced the government army under the command of Duke of Argyll at Sheriffmuir. Mar's army outnumbered his enemy twice, but the battle remained indecisive.

Q.And left James disillusioned

A.Yes. Left without a plan of what to do next, James fled back to France. He never returned to Scotland, instead heading an intrigue-ridden court in exile, and passed the�battle to his son Prince Charles Edward Stuart, later known as the Young Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie. James died in Rome in 1766 and is buried in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

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By Steve Cunningham

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