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Useful Notes / Hanover-Stuart Wars

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"Bonniey Charlie's noo awa
Safely oer the friendly main;
Mony a heart will break in twa,
Should he no come back again.
Will ye no come back again?
Will ye no come back again?
Better loed ye canna be;
Will ye no come back again?"

A sequel or continuation of the English Civil War that more or less decided the form of the British government. Following the birth of a son to the Catholic King James II and VII,note  there was a coup (known to some as The Glorious Revolution partly because of its surprisingly easy success). The Stuart dynasty was expelled for fear of presumed contact with Catholic powers (the Wars of Religion were dying down but their aftertaste remained). James Stuart was tentatively replaced by his daughter Mary II and then his other daughter Anne, but each in turn died without issue. Parliament thereupon brought the ruler of the somewhat obscure German principality of Hanover note  to sit on the throne, as although they were only distantly related to the reigning dynasty (the first Hanoverian to become British monarch was the great-grandson of King James I and VI on his mother's mother's side, making him the first cousin once removed of James II and second cousin to Mary II and Anne) they were the closest relations who were Protestants (by this point, the fact that the Hanover rulers were Lutherans while Britain was Anglican and Presbyterian mattered less than the monarch not being Catholic).


In response a conspiracy formed to restore the Stuarts. Supporters of the Stuarts were called Jacobites, after "Jacobus," the Latin form of "James" (as in James II). The Jacobites made several attempts to organize revolts in their name, and appealed to continental monarchs especially France for aid. However, each attempt was suppressed until the Stuart cause simply withered away, its noble supporters disinterested and its common supporters alienated and beaten. The conflict nominally originated in a dispute over the nature of the British constitution, specifically the Right of Succession, Jacobites holding it to be a royal birthright, the Hanoverians a liberty of parliament. However, it also drew in various cultural, ethnic and religious conflicts, particularly between the largely Protestant English, Lowland Scots and Ulster Scots, and the largely Roman Catholic Irish and Highland Gaels. Or to put it cynically, Scots and Irish were fighting English and Scots to decide whether a Frenchman or a German would sit on the throne of Britain.


Although it is generally accepted that the Hanoverians were the preferable candidate, having greater respect for parliamentary authority, a good deal of Jacobite romanticism still exists, particularly in Scotland; although in Ireland it was largely superseded by republican sentiments, it entered the Scottish nationalist mythology, the Jacobite Highlander becoming the iconic image of the Scottish nationalist movement. To this day, there exists a number of Britons who express support for the Jacobite cause, although the current claimant, Duke Franz of Bavaria - "Francis II", in the Jacobite reckoning - has formally declined to pursue the claim.


Tropes associated with the Hanover Stuart Wars:

  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Despite their efforts, neither James III nor Charles III had this.
  • The Butcher: General Cumberland. Well earned.
  • The Clan: The Highland Clans, on both sides of the conflict.
  • Cool Sword: Highlanders and their claymores.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes : According to tales, The Government actually banned bagpipes as an illegal weapon. Anyone who has heard bagpipes up close can easily imagine why.
  • Family Honor: Up to Eleven
  • Feuding Families: The Royal Houses of Hanover and Stuart. Also the more local feuds often overlapped, particularly in the Highlands, where the conflict was often superimposed onto old clan rivalries, most notoriously that of the Campbells and MacDonalds.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: After the victories of William of Orange at the Boyne, Aughrim, and Limerick, there was a massive exodus of Irish supporters of King James II called "the Flight of the Wild Geese". They spent years in the service of the French and Spanish armies, preferring to fight for their fellow Catholics rather than stay in a foreign-occupied Ireland. Young men from Ireland and Scotland continued to enter the French service for decades, and during the Hanover-Stuart Wars, many of them returned with "Bonnie Prince Charlie" to try and reclaim his throne for him. Others didn't, but gained prominence across Catholic Europe; the most famous descendant of a Wild Goose is probably Patrice de Mac-Mahon, a general and the first President of the Third French Republic, with Chilean liberator Bernardo O'Higgins (whose father was chased out of his landholdings in County Sligo in the 1720s) a close second.
  • Good Old Ways: Romantic Scots sometimes regard the Highland clan system, suppressed in reaction to the wars, as such.
  • Government in Exile : The Stuart court in France.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Bonnie Prince Charlie. Sort of. The prince lived his life in the French court, and behaved like a typical French noble. In his despair he fell to drink. He was adulterous, and was once accused of abuse by an angry lover (rightly or wrongly). As nobility of his day went he wasn't spectacularly evil (except for the unconfirmed accusation of abuse), and arguably should be pitied more than anything. But his status as a hero is more because he was a convenient symbol for a lost cause than because of his actual behaviour, and some of his followers deserve more of a reputation for heroism then he did.
  • Irony : If the theoretical claim of the Jacobite heir is taken seriously, Britain would end up with a German monarch after all!
  • Kill Them All: The British at the Battle of Culloden Moor.
    • Done at the infamous Glencoe Massacre where at least 40 members of the MacDonald clan were murdered in their beds. The order signed by King William specifically stated that no one below the age of 70 was to be left alive.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Bonnie Prince Charlie's brother, Henry Benedict Stuart, took religious orders, thus ending the direct progeny of the Old Pretender. However, other branches of the family remain to this day, the current heirs being the House of Wittelsbach, currently pretenders to the Duchy of Bavaria (since all titles of nobility were abolished with the proclamation of the German (Weimar) Republic in 1918). However, they've shown absolutely no interest in pursuing the claim, formally declining it.
  • Logic Bomb: The Stuarts (and indeed the Hanovers until it was quietly dropped in 1801) claimed to be Kings of France and used it in their coronation oaths—being a very old and silly claim left over from The Hundred Years War that any King of England was also King of France. Of course, in this period the Stuarts were in exile in France and were supported as pretenders by the Kings of France, who provided them with coronation ceremonies and attended. So to recap, the actual King of France stood there watching approvingly as the Stuart pretenders were crowned 'King of England, France, Scotland and Ireland' in front of them...what?!
    • Even more ridiculously, Oliver and Richard Cromwell supposedly also kept this claim even though the monarchy had been abolished. On coins of the period, Oliver Cromwell is referred to as "Protector of the Republic of England, Scotland and Ireland & etc" with the "& etc" referring to the claim to France.
  • The Migration: Many Jacobites left the British Isles after the failure of various rebellions. Irish exiles were famously known as "the Wild Geese", a term later used in reference to Irishmen serving abroad in foreign armies, sometimes including the British army.
    • There was a MacDonald who ended up as a Marshal in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte, a Barclay who was a Marshal of Russia (who fought Napoleon), a MacMahon who became a Marshal of France and a president of the Third Republic, and a Pitcairn and a Gordon who were Luftwaffe aces during World War II.
  • Noble Fugitive: Bonnie Prince Charlie, "The Prince in the Heather", on his famous escape after Culloden.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: In polite circles it was common to call Charles "the Chevalier" as a euphemistic alternative to either "prince" or "pretender". Either one of these words would be inflammatory to the other faction, whereas everyone agreed that Charlie was at least an aristocrat.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Scottish Highlanders are often characterized as such, although in reality few were professional soldiers.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: General Cumberland specifically ordered this done to the Highlands in order to render it incapable of revolting again. The Scottish are still holding a grudge.
  • The Remnant: The Jacobites.
  • Rightful King Returns: Repeatedly attempted by the Stuarts, but never successfully carried out.
  • Sacred Hospitality: The Highland noblewoman Flora MacDonald sheltered the Prince as he fled.
    • Averted in the famous Glencoe Massacre, an event which still creates tensions in some parts of Scotland today, and is frequently referred to in much fiction.
  • The Troubles: Partially the result of the long-term fallout of this conflict.
  • Values Dissonance: To many modern eyes, at least, it does seem a bit odd to make such a fuss over who is king.
    • Although as with many conflicts throughout history that look like they're just dynastic struggles, the Hanovers and the Stuarts did represent very different ideologies, factions, and interests, with mainly the Stuarts representing traditional landed interests as well as a Europe-centric foreign policy and the Hanovers being backed generally by pro-commerce and pro-colonization factions.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: To later Scottish nationalists, both the Highland/Lowland divide and the inter-clan conflicts of the Highlands appear as such. While this is largely anachronistic, it emerged by the end of the 18th century, making that particular item of mythology Older Than Steam.
    • As Fitzroy Maclean pointed out, each chief regarded himself as effectively an independent monarch, making it no more illogical for clans to struggle together than for England and Scotland, or Britain and France to struggle together.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Following Culloden the British government managed to, by shrewd policy, attain peace in the Highlands and even convince Highlanders to fight for them. As a result, the Highland units of the British Army toured the world, gaining a reputation as some of the most feared Badass Regiments in the British Army, serving in the Americas, against Napoleon, in India, the Crimea, against the Boers, and against the German Empire (whose soldiers referred to the kilted Highlanders 'as devils in skirts') among others.

Depictions in fiction:

  • This series of wars has been dealt with in fiction by several authors, including Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • One of the most famous fictional works about this is Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, which is about an Odd Friendship between a lowland boy of Hanoverian persuasion and a Jacobite Highland warrior.
  • This is an important part of the backstory in Katherine Kurtz's Two Crowns For America (set during The American Revolution). Several characters are stated to have fought in these wars, and there is a conspiracy to invite the current Jacobite heir to take the crown of the new American country.
  • Mentioned (well, the Jacobite remnants at least) in British statesman Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son: The Earl writes that his son may meet if not the Pretender himself, then at least his followers when he's in Rome.
  • Waverley: A naive young man joins the Jacobite cause to impress a girl.
  • In A Jacobite Trilogy by Dorothy Kathleen Broster, dashing Jacobite hero Ewen Cameron leaves his homeland follow the Bonnie Prince Charlie into war.
  • Culloden: The most harrowing example of how it all ended.
  • Outlander (and the TV series based on it) which involves the last Jacobite Rising of 1745.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire features many references to this conflict. The Blackfyre Rebellion, which didn't exactly come from Parliamentary reform, follows the structure of the Jacobite conflict, with the defeated becoming exiles and mercenaries on another continent, periodically conducting many failed rebellions, with their homegrown supporters and sympathizers fiercely persecuted by the government. The Glencoe Massacre is also frequently cited as one of several inspirations for the infamous "Red Wedding", which takes place in the third book of the series.
  • In the Highlander tv series, the Immortal main character Duncan MacLeod fought in these wars in several eras. Flashbacks from various seasons show Duncan's evolution from being totally devoted to the attempt to put Charlie on the throne, his one man Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Culloden, (including using his powers as an Immortal to repeatedly hunt down and brutally murder both English leaders and common soldiers who defeated and then oppressed the Scots) and finally his growing disillusionment with both the conflict and Charlie as time went by. This ultimately culminated in him leaving the conflict behind forever, regretful about some the cruel extremes he went to. (And having earned some Immortal enemies from both sides of the conflict along the way.)


Example of: