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Scandal: The baby in the warming pan

James VII and II had two surviving daughters from his first marriage to Anne Hyde – Mary (born 1662) and Anne (born 1665) – who had both been raised as Protestants.

He married his second wife, Mary of Modena, in 1673.

So when, 12 years later he came to the throne, many thought that James would never have a male heir and that his Protestant daughters would succeed him.

Then, on 10 June 1688 James’s wife Mary gave birth to a healthy son – James Francis Edward Stuart. This presented the threat of continuing the Catholic Stuart Dynasty.

In an attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the birth, opponents claimed that the child was stillborn and that a ‘changeling’, an imposter had been smuggled in to the bedroom in a warming pan – a large, frying-pan shaped device, used like a hot water bottle.

Even in adulthood, James Francis Edward was still subjected to this kind of anti-Jacobite, anti-Catholic propaganda.

The satirical engraving The Wonderful Product of the Court-Warming Pan, 1719-66 depicts his (future) wife, Maria Clementina holding a warming pan open to reveal his portrait.

The birth of Prince James Francis Edward posed sufficient threat of a Catholic succession for the seven notable Englishmen (including one bishop) to approach James’s son-in-law, William of Orange and to invite him to take the British throne with his wife, Mary, the elder daughter from James’s first marriage.

The Stuart dynasty was now split in two, with two separate courts each with their own followers – Williamites for William and Mary and Jacobites for James VII and II and his young son.

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This article is from the free online course:

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

The University of Edinburgh