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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Jacobite Pretenders to the throne

I know it's been ages, and the British history has finally moved on. But I just want to take a slow journey back in time to satisfy my curiosity about the Jacobite uprising.

The Jacobites were descendants of King James II who had fought hardly to restore the succession to their bloodlines and because I am preparing a book that features a collection of stories about the European Royals, journeying back in time with the Jacobites seems an interesting ritual.

Catholic descendants of King Charles I were prevented from succeeding the throne under the Act of Settlement. This Act was established in 1701 stating that only protestant descendants of Princess Sophia of Hanover could possibly succeed the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. Princess Sophia, who married the Prince of Hanover, niece of Charles I, was the nearest protestant relative of James II.

While researching facts and theories about the complicated history of the British succession, I came across with one information that traces the bloodlines of the current head of the House of Wittelsbach in Germany, Franz, Duke of Bavaria, to King Charles I. The information triggered my fascination about Royal History.

According to a source, the Duke of Bavaria is the most senior male descendant of King Charles I and if Catholics were not barred from succeeding the throne during the middle ages, then Prince Franz is the current King of England.

Franz directly descended from the youngest daughter of King Charles I, Princess Henrietta who married the Duke of d'Orleans. But because Henrietta was raised a Catholic and married a Catholic, she and her descendants were removed in the line of succession.

King James II, Charles I's son, was forced to abdicate because he converted to Catholicism, but two of his children remained Protestants, his daughters, Mary and Anne. Mary succeeded her father to the throne, jointly ruling with her husband, William III. Mary and her youngest sister, who would become Queen Anne, were children of James II from his first marriage to Lady Anne Hyde. James II's second wife, Mary of Modena, was a Catholic. 

James II's children by his second marriage were all raised as Catholics, thus, the eldest son, who was born Prince of Wales, James Stuart, was denied with his right to the throne and was stripped from his title. But in France and Rome, he was recognized as the legal British King and upon the death of his father in 1701, he was known as King James III. He went to live in Rome and was given an apartment by Pope Innocent III. The Jacobites launched several attempts to take back the throne but were unsuccessful. 

According to reports, there were negotiations made between the British courtiers and James Stuart to make him Queen Anne's successor if he will convert to Protestantism, but James Stuart stood firm with his belief and refused to give up his Catholic faith, his most memorable statement was "I have chosen my own course, therefore it is for others to change their sentiments". The negotiation was not push through and upon the death of Queen Anne the throne passed to her nearest protestant relative, George of Hanover, son of Princess Sophia.

James Stuart had two sons, Henry who became a Catholic cardinal and Charles who continued pressing his claim to the throne, but Charles had no legitimate children, thus the line of descendants of James II through males became extinct upon the death of Charles and Henry.

Tracing the bloodlines of the next successors, as both Mary and Anne had no surviving children, the throne should pass to the youngest daughter of King Charles I, Princess Henrietta, a Roman Catholic, and to her direct descendants. But as history would have it, destiny did not happen that way and Princess Henrietta's descendants were not recognized as legal heirs. Henrietta's most senior male living descendant today is Prince Franz, the Duke of Bavaria.

Asking about his birth right to the throne of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Duke of Bavaria remained quiet and just expressed his happiness and contentment of being just the Duke of Bavaria.
Princess Sophie and her husband, Prince Alois of Liechtenstein.
Princess Sophie is the niece of Prince Franz, the Duke of Bavaria.
She is a direct descendant of King Charles I of England, thus a Jacobite successor to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland

The Duke of Bavaria, who is a great nephew of the famous Bavarian King, Ludwig II, did not marry and no children, thus his successor to the Dukedom of Bavaria is his younger brother, Prince Max. Upon Franz's death, the Jacobite pretender to the throne is Prince Max who then succeeded by his eldest daughter, Princess Sophie, wife of the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein, Alois.

It's crazy how history reshaped the lives and destinies of most people including royals and their supposed birth rights. 

Although some of the provisions in the Rules of Succession were repealed under the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, successors who are in communion with Rome or in layman's term born and raised as Roman Catholics, could never succeed the British throne, they are referred as "dead", the provision of the Act of Settlement requiring a British monarch to be a Protestant remain unchanged. But under the new succession law, descendants who were removed from the line of succession because of marrying Catholics will now be restored, thus Prince Michael of Kent and sons of his brother, the Duke of Kent, will take their places in the line of succession when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 will take effect.

Under this new succession law, eldest daughter of the sovereign will take her place in the line of succession ahead of her younger brothers.

My book, European Royals, will tackle controversies, scandals, mysteries, madness in the royal court and facts about the European royal court.

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