On this day in 1688 King James II of England and VII of Scotland attempted to flee England during the events that would come to be known as the Glorious Revolution which put William of Orange and his wife Mary on the two thrones. In doing so he dropped The Great Seal into the Thames, as no lawful Parliament could be summoned without it. However he was captured the next day by fishermen in Faversham opposite Sheerness, the town on the Isle of Sheppey and returned to London. He would finally manage a successful escape on December 23rd and so the Jacobite movement was born.
The Glorious Revolution happened when concern over James’ Catholicism, and perhaps more specifically over the Catholicism of his newly born son James Francis Edward Stuart, resulted in the invitation of the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange and his wife Mary (James’ protestant daughter) to depose the King and jointly take the thrones of England and Scotland. William landed with an army at Torbay, Devon in November and advanced towards London with little resistance. The King’s religion was unpopular and anti-Catholic rioting broke out in a number of cites while his mostly protestant army seemed reluctant to engage. On 9th December a minor battle was fought at Reading, which resulted in a Williamite victory, although casualties were probably well below 100.
William arrived in London on the 18th to a cheering crowd. The Dutch officers had been ordered that if James attempted to leave that he should not be hindered and on 23rd December he left for France. In doing so he helped resolve the question of whether he was still the legal king or not, apparently creating a situation of interregnum. William and Mary were crowned joint monarchs of England on 13th February 1689 and a few months later Scotland on 11th April.
James still however held significant support in Ireland and Scotland where his followers would become known as Jacobites. They viewed the Revolution as nothing more than an illegal coup by force of arms and sought to resist it. The first Jacobite Rising would take place in 1689 when John Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee, also known as Graham of Claverhouse or Bonnie Dundee, raised an army from the Highland Clans. In Ireland, Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell led local Catholics raised an army there and was joined by James himself alongside some 6,000 French troops. Though Jacobites also existed in England and Wales, the two countries remained relatively calm. The Jacobites would ultimately be defeated in both Scotland and Ireland, however many continued to see the Stuarts as the legitimate monarchs, and there were further Jacobite risings in Scotland during the years 1715, 1719 and 1745.
Our huge model The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne explores these events and can currently be seen at Stirling Castle until February 2nd 2018. Find out more:
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