The 1719 Rising
We have reached the year 1719 and the last of the Jacobite campaigns to directly involve James VIII and III. Support for the exiled Stuarts now shifts dramatically from France to Italy and Spain.
This was a busy period for James, who was living a nomadic existence on the continent before eventually settling in Rome. During this time he also arranged to marry the Polish Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska.
Their marriage was opposed by George I, who feared that any children they might have would prove a threat to the Hanoverian succession. Maria Clementina was arrested by the Holy Roman Emperor when travelling to join James in Italy. She later escaped and was married by proxy to James, who was already in Spain planning his next invasion of Britain.
This latest campaign was suggested by the Italian Cardinal Alberoni, an ambitious politician in Philip of Spain’s service. If successful, Spain would then have a powerful Catholic ally – King James VIII & III – in Europe.
Two Spanish fleets sailed for Britain in March 1719: a small diversionary force made their way to the west Highlands and a larger invasion was planned for the south-west of England.
The smaller force landed as planned but the larger fleet was destroyed by a storm. Unaware of the disaster, the Jacobite army and the Spanish established their headquarters at Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie by Kyle of Lochalsh on the road to Skye.
On 10 June 1719, the Jacobite force was defeated at the Battle of Glen Shiel by the government army. The Scottish Highlanders were encouraged to disband by their commanders, while the Spaniards surrendered. Imprisoned at Edinburgh, they were later released and returned to Spain.
James returned to Italy and married Maria Clementina in September 1719. Pope Clement XI recognised the couple as the rightful king and queen of Britain and they lived in the Palazzo Muti, renamed the Palazzo del Re (Palace of the King), where their son and heir Prince Charles Edward Stuart – the future Bonnie Prince Charlie – was born in December 1720.
© National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh 2017