A Valiant, if Failed Effort: Scotland and the Fight for the Restored Monarchy

In A History on June 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Currently, I am reading The Winter Sea, a book by Susanna Kearsley. It takes place in Scotland, in the year 1708. The eighteenth century was an incredibly tumultuous time for Scotland. The amount of change it experienced was incredible. In this particular year, a large group of Jacobites comprised of French and Scottish soldiers almost succeeded in saving their exiled king, King James, and restoring the monarchy. They failed, but the Jacobin efforts did not stop. It is a fascinating topic. I am not Scottish, but I’m quite interested in their history (I might as well become familiar with it if I’m supposed to be living there for 4 months.) Why is this topic a source of fascination to me? I promise, it is NOT because of Jamie Fraser, featured in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (although, really now, who could blame me?)

a quick summary of the Scottish resistance:

  • 1296 CE- Edward I of England invades Scotland. Scottish resistance begins.
  • Fighters like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce champion for Scotland’s independence
  • 1314 CE- Battle of Bannockburn
  • Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587, Catholic) descends from the Stewart line (cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. She was also imprisoned by her cousin. And executed. Harsh.)
  • She gives birth to James (1566-1625), heir to the childless Queen Elizabeth I (of England)
  • This James I and VI is now king of Scotland AND England
  • His son Charles I (1600-1649) gets beheaded by Cromwell when he assumes too much power and disbands Parliament
  • This ensues a Civil War that lasts for years in England. Cromwell rules during this
  • England wants their kings back
  • They have Charles I’s son, Charles II (1630-1685, still a Stewart) to rule
  • His brother James II  and VII (1633-1701) ascends the throne when Charles II dies in 1685
  • Point of Information: James is Catholic. The English really don’t like Catholics at this point in time. The English think he’ll use his Catholic powers to be friends with the King of France, also Catholic, who also happens to be the number one enemy of the English
  • King James’s daughter, Mary, is married to William of Orange, who is Protestant
  • But before they can have William and Mary rule, Mary’s father (King James) gives birth to a son (1688-1766, the Old Pretender)with his new wife!
  • Point of Information: Legitimate son=HEIR!
  • This scares the Protestant loving English, so they start a rumor that the child isn’t really James’, and therefore he isn’t a true heir
  • This starts a lot of problems within England that leads to
  • King James, wife, and son fleeing to France
  • 1688- the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION, with (the Protestant) William and Mary ascending the throne
  • Back to Scotland– they’re split between Presbyterians happy with Mary ruling (she is Scottish) and those who agree her half brother, the little heir, is the true ruler (because males are put higher than females in the line of succession)
  • The latter group is the one who wants King James VII back. They become JACOBITES. This means followers of James (Latin for James is Jacobus) 
  • Scotland suffers during the time of William and Mary– their fields produce terrible harvests so Scotland is starving to death. England puts so many laws and tariffs on them that their trade suffers drastically
  • King William, after Mary dies, fears that upon his death Scotland will bring back a Stewart (King James or his new son, also named James)
  • Scotland and England used to be joined as one monarchy way back in the day, so William believes creating an act of Union that will make Scotland and England one, and so he can continue having Protestants ruling on the throne
  • When he dies Mary’s sister and daughter of King James, Anne, becomes Queen. She believes her half brother is really her half brother, but her council persuades her to choose her new successor (she was childless) from the German House of Hanover (does that last name ring a bell?)
  • Scotland refuses to accept this. They have their own parliament at this time, and declare that they won’t accept the Hanoverian claim on the throne unless Scotland is free to ignore foreign policies that don’t agree with Scotland’s interests
  • England retaliates with the ALIEN ACT—unless Scotland discusses the Union with England, every Scottish person living in England would be become an alien, and all Scottish owned estates in England would be taken back.
  • Scotland decided to talk
  • 1707 CE—Act of Union joined the parliaments of England and Scotland and formed the Parliament of Great Britain. It confirmed the Hanoverian (Protestant) succession to the throne
  • 1708 CE—failed Jacobin uprising (Where The Winter Sea takes place) 
  • 1715 CE—another failed Jacobin uprising
  • 1745 CEBonnie Prince Charlie, aka Charles Edward Stuart arrives in Scotland and creates a Jacobin rising. He has some success, but the Jacobin fight was viciously ended as the English brutally murdered nearly all clans in Culloden (where Outlander takes place). My next post will be about the Battle of Culloden (which I have visited) and Outlander.

If I haven’t bored you so much already that you’ve stopped reading my post, you can see that Scottish history is quite complex, bound quite unwillingly to England. When my family visited England and Scotland in 2010 (my choice!), I remember the Customs Guard at Heathrow Airport asking us where we were headed. When I told him Scotland, he looked up and he said, “Ahh! Why in heavens’ name would you want to go there? There’s nothing over there!” He said it jokingly, and my father laughed, but a history as rich as it is is still felt by people today. Perhaps not with the vigor of the Scots and English back in the day, but they are certainly aware of it, and are aware of the feelings of betrayal and loyalty that lived in both England and Scotland for hundreds of years.

Word of the Day: Divine Right of Kings- a doctrine of political and royal legitimacy. A monarch receives his right to rule directly from God and is subject to no authority on earth (meaning the will of the people or the church). Strongly promoted by King James I and VI in England. Mostly associated with the House of Tudor and the House of Stuart. It was abandoned with the Glorious Revolution.  


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