Jacobite! Unless you are speaking of the beleaguered and today-frequently-martyred members of the Syriac Orthodox Church (whose name has totally different origins), you mean a supporter of the House of Stuart – that seemingly doomed family of Norman-Scots origin who inherited the English throne in 1603, were murderously ejected from it in 1649, restored in 1660, and ejected once more in 1688. In Scotland in 1689, Ireland from that year until 1691, and in Scotland again in 1715 (and Northumberland), 1719, and most famously in 1745-6 when they came as near to victory as ever they would, the Stuarts’ supporters repeatedly fought to restore them to their Crown – and plotted and politicked heavily all during that time on their behalf. But Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fearlessly led the Scots clans all the way to Derby in 1745 died old and disappointed in 1788; with the death of his younger brother in 1807, the main line of the House of Stuart ended as well. Kevin Phillips, in his masterful book, The Cousins’ Wars, places the Jacobite wars in the context of a series of conflicts extending from the English Reformation, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (as the English Civil War and adjoining struggles tend to be more poetically called to-day), down to the American Revolution and the American Civil War. In Phillips’ reading, these transformed the Anglosphere from a little Catholic Kingdom at the edge of the world to the mighty secular (and secularizing) colossus that bestrides the world in our time. Given that Phillips thinks this development a good thing, the Jacobites must take their place in history’s losers’ gallery alongside the Recusant Catholics of the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Risings in the West and North, the Cavaliers, the Loyalists, and the Confederates. So, as our title asks – why bother?
The answer is several-fold. One facet is aesthetic: there can be no doubt of the romance of lost causes, and the Jacobites are at least as romantic as any: look at the story of Flora MacDonald! Gallant young men and their ladies come forth for almost every cause; but the losers rarely get the chance to morph into cynical old men with questionable ethical standing, as the victors so often manage to. Moreover, despite everyone loving a winner while he is alive and able to benefit them, they often spit on his grave afterwards. With the losers, whatever else you may say about them, they are not responsible for the evils one lives under in the here and now. Perhaps, had they won, the nation and the world would not be in the sorry state they are in (presuming one thinks said state is sorry). So the losers always attract admirers – and especially do their descendants venerate their memory. Thus the United Empire Loyalists, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, the Combined Irish Regiments Old Comrades Association, the Pieds Noirs, and so on. And there are admirers of valiant but ultimately defeated captains such as Sir William Wallace, Owen Glendower, Bonnie Dundee, Montrose, Lee, Jackson, Collins, Lyautey, Toussaint, and the like. There is of course a whole cult of Napoleon – not only in France, but Italy, Mexico, Belgium, Poland, and elsewhere.
Rulers whose countries have followed very different courses from the ones they charted for them usually retain advocates for their policies long after they have gone and been execrated by their successors – as with de Gaulle, Salazar, Franco, Pinochet, Petain, the Perons, FDR, JFK, Lincoln, Churchill, and a host of others (don’t look for ideological coherence in this list – they were chosen purely for their ability to rouse passionate love and hate). But this is particularly true of Hereditary Sovereigns – especially when they have given their lives as well as their crowns for their peoples, something one never expects a president to do. So there are to-day groups admiring Richard III and Henry VI of England; Mary, Queen of Scots; Henry IV, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Charles X of France; Umberto II of Italy, and many more. Should they be raised to the altars by their Church, it is ever so much more so, as with Bl. Charlemagne, Charles I of England, Nicholas II of Russia, and Bl. Charles I and S.G. Zita of Austria-Hungary.
The Jacobite cause is firmly rooted in the human psyche, alongside all these others. It should be no great surprise that the reputation of the Jacobites themselves was first resurrected by that great British apostle of Romanticism, Sir Walter Scott, in his Waverley novels. But if this were all there were to Jacobitism, then we could safely file the movement away with such entertainments as the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Revels, Renaissance Faires, Historical Re-Enactments, Living History Museums, Live Action Role-playing, local preservation and historical societies, and Symphonic Outdoor Dramas. Enjoyable as all these can be, and to a greater or lesser degree useful for both what they can reveal about history in general and the perceived shortcomings of the modern world, they would seem irrelevant to the modern concerns of most of us.
Common and easy to make as such a curt dismissal would be in all of these case, however, it would be wrong – and never more so than with the Jacobites. Although Scott may have helped create an atmosphere in which Jacobitism might appear sympathetic, it was the late Victorian era that saw the emergence of the neo-Jacobite Movement; there were reasons for this. British Romanticism had influenced all sorts of nascent movements at the beginning of the 19th century: the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism; the country’s Roman Catholic revival; Young England; the Gothic revival; the Pre-Raphaelites; the Celtic Renaissance (with its attendant rebirthing of Irish, Scots, Welsh, and Cornish nationalism); the Arts-and-Crafts movement; and the cult of “Merrie England,” to name a few. All of these groups saw themselves as reaching back to the past for ammunition against the centralizing, industrializing, secularizing culture of the Britain of that time. Overseas, they saw their own struggles reflected in the various civil and other wars that were doing violently in Europe what they saw as happening gradually at home: thus Charles X was overthrown and replaced by a succession of regimes in France; Spain and Portugal were wracked by civil wars in which prince of the two countries’ ruling houses were overthrown in favor of younger, pliable princesses with doubtful claims; and the lesser princes of Germany and Italy deposed or enthralled by such as Bismarck and Cavour. Nor was it merely a question of dynastic claims; behind each conflict lay ideological issues – the nature of the monarchy, the relationship between church and state, local and provincial liberties, cities versus countryside – all of these were under siege by the same forces: which forces in those days were called by the catchall-phrase of “Liberalism.” Inevitably, British Liberal Prime Ministers such as Melbourne, Palmerston, and Gladstone backed their confreres on the Continent, while some of their “Conservative” opponents – though rarely the party establishment – supported their opposition.
One of the most stalwart of the European Traditionalist groups were the Spanish Carlists – supporters of the exiled older line of the local Bourbons. Over the course of the 19th century, they would fight three civil wars in an effort to regain the throne for their King; some of their members would fight for the Pope (including the heir’s brother) and the Neapolitan Bourbons in the Risorgimento – a few even joined the Confederate Army, as did a few Neapolitan and French Legitimists, viewing that conflict as in some way an extension of their own. Later, in the 1936-39 civil war in Spain, Carlists would play a crucial role in Franco’s victory. They had supporters in Great Britain, despite the government’s backing of the opposition: notable among these were prominent Young Englander Lord John Manners (later the Duke of Rutland) and Bertram Ashburnham, 5th Earl of Ashburnham, a convert to Rome and by the 1880s the main Carlist agent in London.
Working with the Carlists led Lord Ashburnam to look at British Legitimism – Jacobitism – anew, and in 1886 he was a cofounder of the Order of the White Rose. Of course, as noted, the main line of the House of Stuart had died out. But in the female line, their claims had passed first to the House of Savoy, and upon the extinction of their senior branch had passed to Austria-Este, the Habsburg cadet line that ruled the Duchy of Modena, and had been dispossessed in 1859 by Cavour (by 1880, residence there of the Comte de Chambord – the French Legitimist Henri V, Spain’s Don Carlos, Portugal’s Dom Miguel, and the heirs to Hanover, Nassau , Parma, Modena, Tuscany, and Naples had made Austria-Hungary into Legitimism’s last stronghold by hospitality as well as ideology!). The last duke of Modena had a single daughter, Maria, who had married the future King Ludwig III of Bavaria. She was hailed as Mary IV and III of Scotland and England by the OWR (when she died in 1919, her Stuart claims passed to her son, Crown Prince Rupprecht; ever since the Wittelsbachs, the Royal House of Bavaria, have been recognized as the rightful heirs to the throes of England, Scotland, and Ireland by the Jacobites).
In keeping with the Romantic nature of Jacobitism, the Order of the White Rose attracted such literary and artistic lights of the day as Henry Jenner, R.E. Francillon, James McNeill Whistler, Herbert Vivian, Charles Augustus Howell, Henry Stuart Wheatly-Crowe, Rev. F.G. Lee, and the Marquis de Ruvigny. Some beat the drum for Irish Home Rule, and Cornish, Scots, or Welsh nationalism; the articles gracing the Order’s journal, The Royalist (1890-1903) not only spoke up for Jacobitism and French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Legitimism, but for the historical rehabilitation of King Charles I as the Royal Martyr – and, for his status as a Saint, so far as the Anglican members were concerned. An annual Legitimist Calendar was also published. In 1892, de Ruvigny visited Boston and met with architect Ralph Adams Cram, who became the American Prior of the Order. Among others who joined him were Fr. William Frisby, the rector of the Church of the Advent, Fr. William H. Van Allen, and the incomparable Isabella Stewart Gardner – whose palatial home, Fenway Court (now the museum that bears her name) served as the Boston branch’s headquarters. World War I caused the dissolution of the Order of the White Rose, due to its recognition of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria as heir to the Stuart claims. But in 1926, Capt. Wheatly-Crowe founded, alongside other survivors, the Royal Stuart Society and six years later the Order of the Crown of Stuart, both of which survive to-day (this writer has the honor to belong to the first named). Since then, the RSS has attracted members of the caliber of Sir Compton Mackenzie and Sir Charles Petrie.
The Neo-Jacobites of the 19th century tended to be both Roman and Anglo-Catholic, as is the current membership of the Royal Stuart Society. This is reflected in the calendar of yearly commemorations the organization sponsors. As a general rule, these are: January 30, Charles I (wreath-laying at the King’s statue in Trafalgar Square in company with the Society of King Charles the Martyr and the Royal Martyr Church Union), Evensong at St. George’s Windsor); February 8, Mary Queen of Scots (Catholic Requiem Mass); May 29, Restoration Day (banquet); and James II, June 10 (wreath laying at his statue, and occasionally a Catholic Requiem – being the birthday as well of James III, it is often called “White Rose Day”). On one occasion, 2014, the RSS sponsored a Mass for Bl. Karl I’s feast day (October 21) at the Church of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street, but this was a one-time event. That church has also hosted Requiem Masses for the deceased members of the House of Stuart on various occasions (in 2014 in cooperation with the Latin Mass Society of Great Britain). It is now the Principal Church of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which covers the British Isles – particularly appropriate, given the desire of so many of the Stuarts to reunite Anglicanism with Rome.
Interesting as all of this obscure history might be to the antiquarian Royalist, what interest could it possibly have for the modern – particularly American – individual? Quite a lot, really. The entire world to-day is struggling with questions of who they are and where they are going – save, of course, for ISIS, who are quite aware, indeed. Our ruling elites in the West are married to an ideology that is not simply evil, it does not and cannot work; it must in the end ruin not only their nations and hapless subjects, it shall destroy them as well – being so willfully blind that they cannot see. As for those hapless subjects – that is our good selves – we are burdened not only by fear and uncertainty arising from the nature of our masters, but a huge weight of induced ignorance regarding who we are and so where we shall go. The nations of Europe are divided into states that are either being overwhelmed by outside immigration – and beginning (at least as regards the subjects) to fear that they shall lose their poorly understood identity, and those that, having emerged from the yoke of Communism have a somewhat better idea of who they are, but often enough a lack of means to much about it. Post-BREXIT, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are trying to re-establish something of a common identity, hampered by the kind of rulership we have described. Latin America and the Philippines are hampered with junior elites who are trying to impose upon them the strange cults and moral decay originating in these United States. Here, as the Obama and Trump presidencies show, we are deeply divided, having lost the basic consensus that once allowed this country to become the most powerful nation in the world. The West – which as the late Otto von Habsburg once so pithily remarked, really extends from San Francisco to Vladivostok, and which (pace the white supremacists) not only includes Latin America and the Philippines but to varying degrees the long colonized Indian subcontinent, South Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere (there is a reason Jean Raspail included an Indian from Pondicherry as one of the heroes in his Camp of the Saints), is, to put it mildly, in a supreme crisis.
Now the deeply religious Jacobite or Legitimist from any of the traditions we touched on would say that crisis is a punishment upon the West for our ancestors’ betrayal of altar and throne; one less convinced of the reality of Divine Providence would say it is the result of cutting ourselves off from our foundational heritage. In either case, the results are the same.
So what can the Jacobites tell us? For Americans, if we can pass beyond the vision of our colonial history that sees it as a mere preparation for our revolution and the endless quest for ever-more liberty that followed it, the Stuarts played a key role in our birth: twelve of the original thirteen colonies were founded under their aegis. They (and in particular James II) saw the future problems inherent in the Imperial connection, and attempted to ameliorate them. Although denounced by the Puritans as absolutist tyranny, James’ short-lived Dominion of New England was in reality a forerunner of the 1754 Albany Plan of Union and even to a degree the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. His overthrow and the establishment of Parliamentary supremacy laid the foundation for the future conflict in several ways. One of them was the administration of the colonies via ministers responsible to Parliament rather than directly by the King. As chronicled by such historians as Brendan McConville and Eric Nelson, in time as the local oligarchies in the colonies struggled to wrest complete control of affairs from the British government, this led to a rehabilitation in the colonial press and pamphleteering of Charles I and the Stuarts. Said oligarchs and their followers began to agitate for direct rule by King George III, and pointed out that the founding Stuarts had made no provision for jurisdiction by Parliament over British America. George III, on the other hand emerges as a figure who fell between two stools thanks to his conscience. Feeling bound by oath to accept the Supremacy of Parliament, he could and would not give the rebels what they asked for; but by the same token, through trying to regain the prerogatives of the Crown as exercised by Queen Anne (last of the Stuarts to actually reign, for all that she sat on a usurped throne) but lost through neglect by the first two Georges, he incurred the wrath of the Whig Oligarchs at home.
While Jacobite constitutionalism played an important role for the rebels in our revolution, those who were actually present in the colonies at the time of the Revolution for the most part rallied to the Crown – such were Lord Dunmore, Flora MacDonald, and the Scots Highlanders of North Carolina and New York’s Mohawk Valley. The latter were driven from their homes by the rebels in 1776, and trekked to Montreal in the dead of winter, losing many of their women, children, and elderly along the way. Once ensconced there, they formed a regiment to returning in vengeance, with their erstwhile parish priest, Fr. John McKenna, accompanying them as the first Catholic chaplain in the British army since James’ overthrow. This counterintuitive loyalty to King George was spurred by two factors: 1) most had pardons for their involvement in the ’45, and service to the King when called upon was one of the requirements; and 2) it was for them not a question of which King was to wear the Crown but whether there was to be a Crown at all. The Scots element – both among Loyalists refugees and those already resident in the Maritimes – bestowed a sort of Jacobite edge to Canadian High Toryism that has managed to survive until our time.
Despite the presence and local institutional influence of the French and Spanish on what is now American soil (something of which this writer – being of French-Canadian descent and resident in a former Spanish colony – is very much aware), most of our political and cultural institutions descend from those Stuart foundations. Indeed, it is also to them we owe our use of English Common Law, which still guides our jurisprudence – it reflects its monarchical origins in many ways, not least in constitutional issues. Now, as will be noted, 19th century neo-Jacobitism attracted many folk of high artistic and literary attainments; foremost of its American representatives was architect and writer Ralph Adams Cram. Primarily known for his beautiful ecclesiastical and collegiate buildings that continue to dot the landscape of the United States, his religious, political, and cultural commentary is almost entirely forgotten to-day – which is a tragedy. When the Order was active in 1890s Boston, Cram and his associates (in a published manifesto) saw their role not in overthrowing the existing republic, but first in supporting the overseas branches in their work of promoting “loyalty, chivalry, honour, the defence of lawful government and legitimate Princes, denial of the heresy of popular sovereignty, the upholding of the Divine source of power, belief in a monarchical system of government at having Divine sanction and as being the best guarantee of liberty; [and]devotion to the memory of our martyred King and to the Royal House of Stuart…” Their second and more American goal was to be making our existing institutions more “Hamiltonian,” – that is more, more aristocratic and less apt for corruption.
Forty years later, in the April 1936 American Mercury, having personally arrived at the top of his profession and a certain amount of national prominence, Cram revisited this period. He noted the naiveté of him and his OWR associates in the 1890s, but nevertheless opined that – in view of the subsequent horrors of World War I and the following depression and rise of dictators – they had pretty much gotten it right. He ended the article: “And so, after this interlude of well-meant but futile democracy of the modern sort, we should do well to return to the old kingship. Not that of the Renaissance autocracies, which was the debasement of sovereignty, but to the elder sort under which a real democracy was not only possible but well assured. There may be liberty under a right monarchy: there has come a sort of slavery under the democracies of the modern form where a political oligarchy and a money oligarchy, now in alliance, now in conflict, have brought about grave disorder, social chaos, and the negation of the free and the good life, under the forms of a free commonwealth founded on assumptions that are baseless biologically, philosophically, historically, and from the standpoint of plain commonsense.”
In the light of the current American and Western situations, let us look at some of the key points in the Jacobite and cognate Legitimist programs, and see what relevance they have for us to-day. The first and most obvious is Church and State. Every Monarch of whatever faith has to claim Divine sanction – to be at the very least in some sense God’s Lieutenant. For Christians, this has meant being as it were first Layman, so to speak, rather than Divine Himself or head of the national cult, as in the ancient Roman Chinese, Japanese, Aztec and Inca empires. Nevertheless, for many such Monarchies the quasi-Sacramental rite of Coronation is the means whereby God’s grace in governing is imparted to the new ruler – how well he corresponds to that grace being a matter of his own free will, as with the ordinary Christian’s reception of Baptism. So far from being utterly separated – though remaining distinct – Church and State are to cooperate with one another, the King assisting the Church materially and accepting her right to determine morality, and the Church inculcating loyalty and patriotism in her children.
For most European Legitimists, this would mean the Catholic or Orthodox Churches; with the Stuarts (even surprisingly, to some degree, James I) it meant the Church of England, but with the desire to bring Anglicanism into closer accord with Rome. Catholic Jacobites, like their Continental brethren, tend to prefer the Latin Mass and advocacy for the Social Kingship of Christ – as well as closer relations with the Eastern Orthodox. Anglicans look with horror upon the never-ending innovations that have altered their Communion to something new and strange in the past five decades. As earlier mentioned, the Jacobite-friendly Warwick Street Church is fittingly now the principal church the Anglican Ordinariate in England. At any rate, the Society of King Charles the Martyr is just as fittingly arrayed among the “Catholic Societies of the Church of England,” and Douai Abbey remains a repository of specifically Roman Jacobite devotion. That said, such religiosity would be a stumbling block for many moderns, raised as they have been with their Mother’s milk upon the expulsion of religion from public life. But every society – even communist ones – has seen the need for an animating philosophy to guide the life of a nation, and such irreligious monarchists as Bolingbroke and Maurras (for most of his life; he converted in his last years) saw the utility of the Faith that had formed their countries continuing to have a powerful role in national life. For reasons that will be apparent shortly, modern days have seen a number of neopagans adopt quasi-Jacobite principles. Perhaps the best historical example of practical Jacobite ecumenism may be seen in the capture of a Scots Cathedral town by Montrose. Whilst the bulk of his mostly Irish and Highland Scots troops attended a Catholic Solemn High Mass in the sanctuary and nave of the medieval church, his Anglicans officers heard a Book of Common Prayer service from one their chaplains in a side chapel; he himself in a private room had the Bible read to him and preached upon by a Presbyterian minister. Even these United States, religiously divided as they are, need something to take the place of the moral consensus applying to Protestants, Catholics, and Jews that dated from the first settlement, allowed us to function in tandem, and ended in the 1960s. Such a modern writer as Fr. Aidan Nichols explores the need for such in his Christendom Awake! and The Realm.
Another important point for the Jacobites and others were local liberties –what among Spanish Carlists were called fueros. The French Kings until 1789 – even despite the centralizing moves of Louis XIV – maintained the provincial estates where they existed, and ruled through and alongside local structures. The Habsburgs were famous for ruling their lands according to local laws, and obviously it was to the advantage of the German and Italian Princes to do so. The Commonwealth realms of to-day function according to the notion of the divisibility of the Crown enshrined in the Statute of Westminster; but the Stuarts opposed the Union of Parliaments in 1707, and Bonnie Prince Charlie declared it dissolved upon his arrival in 1745: the Clan system in Highland Scotland itself was nothing if not a testimony to local autonomy. Local liberties in France and throughout Europe were one of the causes espoused by those who took up arms against the French Revolution and later Napoleon. Later Monarchists have continued in this vain, often being provincial autonomists as well – Maurras was a major promoter of Provencal culture, and his Action Français counted as its representatives in Louisiana and Quebec Alcee Fortier and Msgr. Lionel Groulx (who himself was echoed in French New England by La Sentinelle and Le Travailleur, the latter under the fiery Wilfrid Beaulieu). Not too surprisingly, as noted earlier, neo-Jacobitism was espoused by many of the 19th and early 20th century founders of Irish, Scots, Welsh, and Cornish Nationalisms – even to-day, the Scottish Nationalist Party perhaps cynically uses the White Rose – though what that party’s founders would make of the republic they are pushing is another issue. Of course, in these United States, the question of who succeeded to the Sovereignty of the Crown in1783 – the States or the Federal Government – has agitated courts at various times since then, and was the occasion of the bloodiest conflict this country has ever fought. It is notable too that, as noted, partisans of Legitimist regimes in Europe tended to join the Confederate Army when domiciled here, and their opponents the Union.
Just as the traditional King must transcend and yet equally administer the different provinces of his realm according to their own laws and needs, so too was it with social classes – or as one might say, degrees of men. In such states there were a dizzying farrago of intermediate institutions – guilds, confraternities, nobiliary and other such groupings, ranging through the clergy, nobility, townsmen and peasantry, all with their own rights, and their own responsibilities toward each other and the Monarch. It is no coincidence that Charles I and his Stuart successors opposed the enclosures, which drove the farmers off their lands and into the cities – where their descendants could become the faceless proletariat that gave their bodies to the mills and factories, and in time their souls to Marxism. The main line of the House of Stuart and Jacobitism had become extinct by the time this process was complete. But it is no surprise that Continental Monarchists like René de La-Tour-du-Pin took up the challenge; that those concerned with building a Christian social order in Britain like Chesterton, Belloc, and Penty were Stuart sympathizers; or that some neo-Jacobites would attempt to united Jacobitism with what was then called “Christian Socialism.” This latter effort resulted in what was called the “Society of the Red Carnation,” founded by E. Lindsay Foakes (later to head the Catholic League of South London), Scots Nationalist Gavin Scott, and L.D. Holford-Strevens, presumably a relation of the noted scholar of that name. Neeedless to say, uniting in common loyalty labor and capital, industry and agriculture, must be a major goal of a monarch. The Stuarts were also deeply lined to the land indeed, with all three lands. As with their continental counterparts, this link was partly historic, partly mythic. This was particularly true of the Stuarts:
Subsequently, it was to be “those who supported the Divine Right of Kings” who “upheld the historicity of Arthur;” whereas those who did not turned instead “to the laws and customs of the Anglo-Saxons.” Arthur remained a figure central to Stuart propaganda. Stuart iconography celebrated the habits and beliefs of the ancient Britons. In particular, the Royal Oak, still a central symbol of the dynasty, was closely related to ideas about Celtic fertility ritual, and the King’s power as an agent of renewal: “The oak, the largest and strongest tree in the North, was venerated by the Celts as a symbol of the supreme power.” It was thus fitting that an oak should protect Charles II from the Cromwellian troops who wished to strip the sacred new Arthur of his status. The story confirmed the King’s mystical authority, and also his close friendship with nature. Long after 1688, the Stuart dynasty was to be closely linked with images of fertility. In literature, Arthurian images of the Stuarts persisted into the nineteenth century. This “Welsh messiah, the warrior who will come to overthrow the Saxons and Normans,” was an icon of the Stuarts’ claim to be Kings of all Britain, both “Political Hero” and “National Messiah,” in Arthurian mould. Arthur’s status as a legendary huntsman (“the figure of the Wild Huntsman is sometimes identified with Arthur”) was also significant. The Stuarts made much of hunting: it helped to confirm their heroic status as stewards of nature and the land. In doing this, they identified themselves not only with Arthur, but with Fionn, the legendary Gaelic warlord who was in the eighteenth century to be the subject of James Macpherson’s pro-Stuart Ossian poems. Fionn, legends of whom abound in Scotland, was also, like Arthur, scheduled to wake and deliver the nation when danger threatened. In identifying with both figures, the Stuarts were able to simultaneously present themselves as Gaelic and British monarchs. This symbolism was used with peculiar adroitness in Ireland, where the Stuarts were almost never identified with Arthur, but rather with Fionn and heroes from Fionn’s own time. Charles Edward was compared to Fergus, Conall, Conroy, and Angus Oge, while his grandfather became for some a symbol of Ireland herself, a Fenian hero in the making, a foreshadower of the sacrificial politics of such as Pearse: “Righ Shemus, King James, represented the faith of Erin, and so became her comrade in martyrdom.” In famous eighteenth century songs like “the Blackbird,” Ireland was presented as an abandoned woman, waiting for the return of her hero-King. The same symbolism was used in Scotland. “The Gaelic messianic tradition” of Fionn suggested that the Stuart King would one day return to bring light and fecundity to the land. In the Highlands of Scotland, the events of Jacobitism themselves passed into folklore, like the older stories to which they were related. More educated Jacobite sympathisers compared the Stuarts to the heroes of the Roman Republic, to Aeneas, or to the saints. But the view of them as sacred monarchs of folkloric tradition and power was one which endured among all ranks (Murray G.H. Pittock, The Invention of Scotland, pp. 4-5).
On the one hand, such Kings –and the Stuarts in particular – were not only connected to the land, they were its stewards – hunters, guardians of the forest, promoters of agriculture (this is why there are so many national – formerly Royal – stud farms, sheep folds, and cattle pens across Europe). It is this mythic connection to the land, one might suppose, that has led various neopagans to consider themselves Jacobites. In these United States, the government attempts to fill the role of the absent Monarch as guardian of the environment, built heritage, and architecture of the country – hunting licenses, although fulfilling as they do an important role in conservation, descend from the time when all hunting animals belonged to the King, and it was his choice whom he would allow to hunt them. In any case, these issues remain a powerful source of political conflict to-day; without a doubt the Stuarts would come down on the side of the environment – so long as it was commensurate with the well-being of the population.
President Trump’s efforts to defund the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities touch upon another important role of the Stuarts and other traditional kings – patrons of learning and the arts. To be sure, while this is a natural role for a Monarch, it is not really something our presidents are constitutionally fitted for; indeed, this role was particularly added to the job description by FDR, JFK, and Ronald Reagan, arguably our most regal of recent presidents. Constitutional roles aside, however, in our set-up, rather than being subject to the more-or-less well educated tastes and interests of a Sovereign, these endowments all too often appeal only to the arts or education “communities.” It is hard to imagine any monarch, past or present, who would have signed off on Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. The Stuarts and their royal colleagues abroad funded innumerable masterpieces in every branch of the arts; we have yet to see something similar emerge from our system (though, to be fair, many works of genius have been protected through government-funded preservation programs).
We move on from the arts of peace to those of war. As Archduke Otto well remarked once, “Monarchy began to die when Monarchs ceased to lead their troops into battle” – an authoritative statement coming from one whose father, the last Austrian Emperor, did just that, and who himself tried to form a “Free Austrian Battalion” to fight in World War II. Indeed, except for Emperor Charles, the future Edward VIII, Albert I, and Leopold III few modern heads of state – hereditary or elected, have done that. Indeed, since FDR’s sons served in World War II alongside those of many congressmen and senators, few of America’s elite have actually seen combat in our endless series of “police actions” – it is axiomatic to-day that only our lower classes are sent off to fight. It was quite different in Europe where the nobility were expected to serve in the armed forces (and to some extent still do). With the exception of the last (Henry IX became a priest and eventually a Cardinal), all the Stuarts from Charles I to Charles III fought at the head of their men. One can only wonder at what to-day’s foreign policy would be like if all heads of state were expected to do the same.
Another major role of the Stuart Kings was “fount of justice.” As with their medieval forerunners, the Stuart kings were expected to be the highest judges in the land – in keeping with what was considered to be their God-given mandate to do justice to all their subjects. This is why we still call the legal arenas “courts,” in memory of the time when the monarch himself, like King Solomon sat in judgement in his palace. Justices of the Peace – the King’s Peace – as well as magistrates and judges served as representatives of His Majesty and at his pleasure. Even to-day, in most Commonwealth realms, the Royal Arms are displayed to show that justice is done in the Queen’s name. The Archduke Otto had a most relevant quote on this topic:
There is one more point we must consider before we can answer the question of which form of government will best serve the community in the future. Generally speaking, democratic republics represent a regime dominated by the legislature, while authoritarian regimes are dominated by the executive. The judicial power has not had the primacy for a long time, as we have shown above. It found its earlier expression in the Christian monarchies. It is frequently forgotten that the true ruler has always been the guardian of law and justice. The most ancient monarchs — the kings of the Bible — came from the ranks of the judges. St. Louis of France regarded the administration of justice as his noblest task. The same principle can be seen in the many German “Palatinates,” since the Count Palatine (Palatinus) was the guardian of law and justice delegated by the King- Emperor. The history of the great medieval monarchies shows that the legislative power of the king — even of a king as powerful as Charles V — was severely limited by local autonomies. The same is true of the ruler’s executive function. He was not, in the first place, a law-giver or head of the executive; he was a judge. All other functions were subordinate, and were only exercised to the extent necessary to make his judicial function effective.
The reason for this institutional arrangement is clear. The judge must interpret the meaning of law and justice, and to do this he must be independent. It is essential that he should not owe his position, his function, to any man. The highest judge, at least, must be in this position. This is only possible under a monarchy. For in a republic, even the highest guardian of the law derives his position from some other source, to which he is responsible and on which he remains dependent to some extent. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs. His most important task is not to pass judgment in actual legal disputes, but to stand guard over the purpose of the State and natural law. Above all, it is the task of the supreme judge to see that all legislation is in accordance with the State’s fundamental principles, that is, with natural law. The monarch’s right to veto legislation passed by parliament is a remnant of this ancient function… (Otto v. Habsburg, “Monarchy or Republic?,” The Conservative Tradition in European Thought)
How different is our judiciary of to-day, which can redefine humanity or marriage by a simple vote! Indeed, it might be argued that the Stuarts’ defeat in their never-ending struggle with the Oligarchy was partly over this very question of who and what generates justice, and whether judges etc., are responsible purely to their own whims or to something or someone higher. At any rate, these questions remain burning issues to-day – and the Stuart responses to them are worth pondering.
It may be noticed that up until this point we have looked only indirectly at the governmental role of the King as envisioned by the Jacobites and their continental counterparts. This is in part because, as far as they were concerned, what we consider “politics” was only a small part of the business of a King. To-day we are used to Monarchs who are entirely ceremonial; if they move beyond that role at any time for the good of their people, they will be punished, as were Sweden’s Gustav V, Denmark’s Christian X (who later showed himself as resolute against the Nazis as he with “his” ministers), Belgium’s Baudouin I, and Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri. Nevertheless, State Ceremonial is still important, which is why it survives in attenuated form amongst republics, especially our own. So it is that our president is solemnly inaugurated (our answer to the coronation, although our rite – with the partial exception of the first Reagan term – has been decidedly déclassé since JFK’s); inhabits the Whitehouse, our answer to Royal Palaces; receives the credentials of foreign ambassadors; presents the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the American counterpart to Orders of Knighthood; has, in the “Old Guard” and the “President’s Own” the equivalent of Palace Guards; delivers the State of the Union Address before Congress, in the same way a Monarch opens Parliament with a Speech from the Throne; signs bills passed by Congress in similar fashion to the Royal Assent; has his own parish church, similar to St. Martin-in-the-Fields or Saint Germain l’Auxerrois; presides over State Funerals, with Washington’s National Cathedral playing the role of Westminster Abbey or St. Denis; attends the Red Mass; and sundry other such rituals. Nevertheless, as Ralph Adams Cram observed in the earlier cited American Mercury article: “We have our own ceremonial today: hat on the heart or handkerchief fluttered in the air when the flag goes by; military salutes of rifle, sword, cannon, and bunting: the weird habiliments of secret societies, grips, and passwords. But the old and splendid ceremonial of a royal progress, as at the recent funeral of the British King, is more noble, significant, beautiful, and spiritually stimulating.” Monarchs do it better – and not simply because of the Royal origins of State Ceremonial, but because they do it not merely on behalf of one political party, but on behalf of the whole nation – living, dead, and yet to be born.
But where most of the remaining Monarchs to-day are confined to this role, the Jacobites and their European confreres would see the King rule as well as reign: preside over his cabinet, set policy, propose budgets for approval by the representatives of taxpayers and the like. Here too there is a resemblance to the American president – himself based upon the medieval notion of the Royal prerogative. As Eric Nelson observed, when the smoke of revolution and the draughting of the constitution passed away, Britain was left a King without a Monarchy, and America a Monarchy without a King. Again, however, the American president performs his role only for a part of the citizenry and for a limited time; the King must do it for the whole of his peoples, and for life.
Having dealt with what might be called the ideology of Jacobite and Legitimist Monarchy, we go on at last to the dynastic question. As mentioned earlier, this was – in the British Isles, France, Spain, and Portugal – a question of the more traditional older branch of the dynasty being replaced by a younger one more amenable to liberal ideas; in Germany and Italy it meant the deposition of local dynasties in favor of a single large one that would create a centralized liberal state. But what is so important about maintaining –even dying for – a branch or even an entirety of a ruling family? It goes against everything we as moderns – and especially as modern Americans – are taught to believe. This affects and distorts our perceptions of the past as well as the present, As Brendan McConville writes of the modern view of colonial America and the Revolution in The King’s Three Faces, “We live in an age whose rhetoric is relentlessly egalitarian and seems to become more so with each passing year. This egalitarianism infuses all that we do and say and has become part of our lives in ways both obvious and unseen. Its development in the eighteenth century is a fact of our national mythology, and perhaps that is why the questioning of it has gone on largely in restricted channels. As heirs to a revolution that helped create this profoundly democratic world, we are perhaps frightened to think that our history could be otherwise, that Americans were not always engaged in somehow becoming what we are. But to assume that is to rob the mid-eighteenth century’s writers and thinkers of their voice.” (p. 192)
More to our present point, it also distances us from objective reality. Talent, expertise, and sheer opportunity do tend to cluster in families – and said families tend to remain prominent in whatever field they make their mark in. Hollywood, that relentless propagandist for egalitarianism and against tradition, is surely one of the most familial and indeed nepotistic institutions on earth, as any glance at IMDB will show. A great many members of the Hereditary Societies community in this country are at least well-to-do, and prominent on a local if not national scale. The 46 members of the Henokiens, an alliance of family-owned businesses in Europe and Japan 200 years old or more is held up in the business world as a great inspiration; there are 28 such companies in the United States. American politics are rife with “dynasties,” starting with the Adamses of Massachusetts, and culminating with such as the Roosevelts and the Kennedys (the latter often called “America’s Royal Family”), to say nothing of the Bushes. Barack Obama was initiated into and his political career produced by the Daley clan in Chicago, in similar wise to the adoption of non-relatives by Mafia crime families. All the while we ridicule European nobility, while flocking to see their historic homes and drooling over such television fare as Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs.
But if we admire American clans who manage to keep up their expertise for decades, why not those who have done so for centuries, or even millenia? If one’s European heritage in this continent dates as far back as the 18th century, then your forebears had an intimate connection with the Kings of Spain, France, and or Great Britain, be the latter Stuart or Hanover; if they came over more recently, then it was with some other dynasty. Either way, even before they came over their lives were intimately bound up with one or more Royal families. “Regardless of his personal imperfections, a monarch represents the majesty of history. He is an heir – a link in a chain that leads to the Middle Ages that in turn connects to antiquity and beyond, to the beginning of measured time when the first hero slew the dragon of disorder and established the rule of law.” (Charles Fenyvesi, Splendor in Exile, pp. 278-9). Without a doubt, despite whatever catastrophe brought your post-revolutionary ancestors to these shores, the vast majority of your forefathers lived at least as contentedly as you do under this regime – or at least as generally unmolested by it. If such abstracts as the flag and the short history of our independence can inspire loyalty and the willingness to die for this nation, how much more did centuries of mutual history and relations bind your family and those who ruled them? We are not used to thinking in such terms, but therein lies the magic of the hereditary aspect of the Stuart and other Royal causes – especially given the fact that when such Monarchs led troops into battle, they demonstrated concretely that said loyalty was mutual, in a way impossible for any elected party leader.
Surprisingly for many given the relentless battering he receives from the media, a good example of this is H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. For all that for Jacobites he is an heir to usurpers, Prince Charles has demonstrated in his many interests a concern for his future subjects – and even Americans – unthinkable in a president or prime minister. The Prince’s efforts in encouraging entrepreneurship among poor youth, and his patronage of education, architecture, and many other facets of life where it is actually lived by most people show a desire to serve that simply is not found among politicians. This was particularly shown by the notorious “Black Spider Memos,” wherein the Prince is shown questioning and sometimes even battling a blasé and incompetent officialdom on behalf of hapless average individuals. Whence comes all of this? In a 21 January 1993 letter he wrote to Tom Shebbeare, then director of the Prince’s Trust (and quoted on pp. 493-494 of Dimbleby’s biography), the Prince declares:
For the past 15 years I have been entirely motivated by a desperate desire to put the “Great” back into Great Britain. Everything I have tried to do—all the projects, speeches, schemes, etc.—have been with this end in mind. And none of it has worked, as you can see too obviously! In order to put the “Great” back I have always felt it was vital to bring people together, and I began to realise that the one advantage my position has over anyone else’s is that I can act as a catalyst to help produce a better and more balanced response to various problems. I have no “political” agenda—only a desire to see people achieve their potential; to be decently housed in a decent, civilised environment that respects the cultural and vernacular character of the nation; to see this country’s real talents (especially inventiveness and engineering skills) put to best use in the best interests of the country and the world (at present they are being disgracefully wasted through lack of co-ordination and strategic thinking); to retain and value the infrastructure and cultural integrity of rural communities (where they still exist) because of the vital role they play in the very framework of the nation and the care and management of the countryside; to value and nurture the highest standards of military integrity and professionalism, as displayed by our armed forces, because of the role they play as an insurance scheme in case of disaster; and to value and retain our uniquely special broadcasting standards which are renowned throughout the world. The final point is that I want to roll back some of the more ludicrous frontiers of the 60s in terms of education, architecture, art, music, and literature, not to mention agriculture! Having read this through, no wonder they want to destroy me, or get rid of me…!
As with his Stuart ancestors, Prince Charles tries to play the role of steward of the land; his interest in hunting for example, is very reminiscent of his predecessors’: “Despite protests by anti-hunting groups, the Prince of Wales takes a close interest in the sport at all levels and has defended it as an effective form of sporting conservation of wildlife and its habitat in the British countryside,” according to the Royal Encyclopaedia. While this writer could not agree with the Prince’s views on population, for example, his failings are those of his time and place; his virtues are those of his office and station.
But what of those who are, so far as Jacobites concerned, the true inheritors of the realm – at the moment, the House of Wittelsbach? On the death of his mother in 1919, Crown Prince Rupprecht became de jure King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. From then until his death in 1954, although he worked hard for a restoration in Bavaria (so much so that the Nazis put his wife and children in a concentration camp, which they happily managed to survive) he made no claim to his British thrones, and reportedly threatened to sue anyone who agitated too forcefully on his behalf; nevertheless the Royal Stuart Society had a requiem offered for him at Warwick Street. His son, Albrecht, succeeded to both his ancestral British and Bavarian claims; following his father’s example, Albrecht pursued Bavarian interests and made no claim to the Stuart crowns until his own demise in 1996. So too with Albrecht’s childless son, Franz, who, as far as the Jacobites are concerned is de jure King Francis II. Francis’ heir presumptive is his younger brother, Max. Blessed with five daughters, when Max dies his Bavarian claims will pass to a cousin, but the Stuart succession shall rest with his daughter, Princess Sophie. She is married to Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, son of Prince Hans Adam II, ruler of that country. They have four children, of whom the eldest, Prince Josef Wenzel, shall one day inherit both the throne of Liechtenstein and his mother’s Stuart succession – he is the first of that line to be born in England since 1688, while his father was serving in the Coldstream Guards.
Now the Liechtensteins are an interesting clan. Alongside the Pontifical Institute of Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome, the Principality that gives them their name is considered by many to be one of the two remaining fragments of the Holy Roman Empire in existence. They have a fortune of about eleven billion dollars, including lands in various European countries and an incredible art collection. We have noted how Constitutional Monarchs tend to be punished for disagreeing with their governments; but Hans Adam II is the exception that proves the rule. Twice he has had showdowns with his ministers and parliament – the last regarding the legalization of abortion. Both resulted in referenda vindicating him – the last, in 2012, featuring 76% of the population voting to give the Prince the power to veto referenda. He wrote a book, explaining his political views, The State in the Third Millennium; therein he declares that while the nation-state retains its importance, government in general has become far too big: people “have to free the state from all the unnecessary tasks and burdens with which it has been loaded during the last hundred years, which have distracted it from its two main tasks: maintenance of the rule of law and foreign policy. Through his paternal grandmother, Archduchess Elizabeth Amalie of Austria, he descends not only from the Habsburgs, but the Braganzas of Portugal and the French and Spanish Bourbons.
So it is that when both of young Josef Wenzel’s parents are gone, he will be the heir to the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Stuart claims to the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland (and the thirteen original American States, the Declaration not being directed against Bonnie Prince, and neither he nor his brother accepting the 1783 Treaty of Paris). He is also a descendant of, though not heir to, Louis XIV of France, who superintended the settlement of the Mississippi River Valley, and Carlos III, successively Duke of Parma, King of Naples, and King of Spain, who ruled the American Southwest and founded California and the glorious city of Los Angeles. It was this background, as well as the deeds of Prince Josef Wenzel’s father and grandfather, that led this writer to model his fictional “Hans-Josef II, King of these United States, Grand Duke of Lichtenburg,” after him or his as-yet unborn son or grandson, in the book, Star-Spangled Crown.
Indeed, if the Jacobites have been defeated on the field and in Parliament, they have certainly won in literature. Novelists like Jane Lane, James Grant, Robert Louis Stevenson, G.A. Henty, and innumerable others down to the present. Jacobite poets number quite literally in the hundreds if not thousands – not too much of surprise considering the involvement in the movement of so many Celts. Moreover, this attraction for artists and writers is something that Jacobitism shares with its kindred movements overseas. None of that should be a shock; for one thing Jacobites and Legitimists share is an understanding that their enemy operates not merely on the political front, but in every aspect of life – politics, to be sure – but in culture and the arts, in manners and customs, in economics and religion.
Moreover, rooted though they were in the customs and cultures of their own countries, the Jacobites – as with most Legitimists across Europe – were only too aware that theirs was but the local chapter of a much wider struggle. This was true during the main phase of their struggle from 1688 to 1766, when events not only forced them back on to the support of Continental powers, but the Stuart heirs became the actual heads of the various Catholic English, Scots, and Irish institutions scattered about in those same countries, It was certainly true of the neo-Jacobites of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who saw in the French Legitimists’, Carlists’, Miguelists’, Neapolitans’, and Habsburg partisans’ struggles echoes of their own. It certainly remains true to-day, when such organizations as France’s Cercles Legitimistes, Portugal’s Causa Real, Italy’s Croce Reale, and Austria’s Weisse Rose, to name a very few, offer very similar solutions to the problems in Church, State, and Society we have touched upon.
And what of us Americans? Why should we care? Because those same issues affect us too, however much we may try to overlook them in favor of our traditional – but meaningless – “liberal”/”conservative” dichotomy. In truth, what we call “Liberal,” the Europeans and Latin Americans dub “Socialist;” What we call “Conservative” they would call “Liberal” – precisely in the sense that word was used abroad in the 19th century. What they would call “Conservative” has not existed as an organized political group here since at least the expulsion of the Loyalists, and perhaps not since the collapse of the Dominion of New England upon the fall of James II. There have been a few individuals and small groups that might be considered such – Cram, the late lamented Triumph Magazine, and even to some degree- surprisingly – the Catholic Worker, for example. But in truth, we are steeped in the very ideology that has created these problems, and we shall not begin to counter them until we find an alternative to it; it is imperative that we do so, because we shall not survive as a nation if we do not.
This writer does not pretend that the solution he offers in Star Spangled Crown is ever likely to occur. But some way must be found to reunite us as a people and to instill a patriotism and love of country, state, and locale that transcends our institutions and their accepted heretofore ideology, while at the same time reminding us that we are or ought to be part of a greater whole. As the manifesto of the Italian journal, Identita Europea puts it, “Today, Europe is divided into a western and an eastern side, a Baltic and a central region, a Euro-Asiatic and a Mediterranean area, each characterized by its own history and relations with the other parts of the world. This rich and multiform culture must be preserved and all its components safeguarded.” However, “our aim is to enlarge this identity beyond the European boundaries, thus recovering that large part of our continent ‘outside Europe’ – from Argentina to Canada and from South Africa to Australia – which looks at the old continent not as a distant ancestor but as a real homeland.”
Regardless of the success or otherwise of that particular Pan-European dream, or the survival of either Europe, America, or the West, the realities of existence that the Jacobites and their confreres fought and died for will once again assert themselves. A thorough knowledge of those realities and of those who have and continue to stand for them shall do more for this country than all the voting or demonstrating imaginable. The ideas that now rule the world were once the province of a small and eccentric coterie; the cycle can and will turn again. The study of the Jacobites will help us do our part in that process.
Charles A. Coulombe is recognized internationally for his in-depth knowledge of Vatican politics and the influence of Catholicism in America and Europe. He serves as Western U.S. Delegate of the Grand Council of the U.K.-based International Monarchist League, and is a member of both the Catholic Writer’s Guild of Great Britain (the Keys) and the Royal Stuart Society.