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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.


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.)


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