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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds So the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1720 provided a great impetus for Jacobite material culture and the courts in exile. Because what they could then say is, we have an heir in waiting. And the material record reflects this with the kind of output of images that was unprecedented. And here in front of me, I’ve got a medal which actually was commissioned and put out very shortly after Prince Charles Edward Stewart was born. This is a bronze medal. Again, this is a very small object, which has a representation on the obverse and the reverse. So on the obverse, we have the conjoined heads of James and Clementina.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds We often find this on medals, that a married couple are shown with their busts in profile, one slightly overlapping the other. So this is quite formulaic. We might use that term. And on the other side, we have a representation of an ancient midwife, Providentia. She is a sort of classical midwife and a bringer of good fortune. If you look very carefully, you’ll see she’s standing next to a globe. And then in her other hand, she holds a baby. So the baby is Prince Charles Edward Stuart. And the globe at her feet is saying that it’s this baby who’s going to come and dominate the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds So what this does is this sets a very high bar, if you like, for the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, saying that he is the great hope of the Jacobite cause for their longed-for restoration.

A Prince is born

Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was born on 31 December 1720.

The newborn baby was described as “large and well-made” and his birth caused great rejoicing.

In accordance with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, Charles was baptised the same day by the Bishop of Montefiascone, in the queen’s chapel in the royal palace, the Palazzo del Re.

Pope Clement XI, the queen’s godfather, ordered the cannons of Castel Sant’Angelo to be fired, and Jacobites claimed that a new star had appeared in the sky.

In this short video, Professor Viccy Coltman looks at how the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart was commemorated in the medallic record as the great hope for the continuation of the Jacobite cause – the longed-for Stuart restoration.

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Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

The University of Edinburgh