The unfortunate House of Stuart

The unfortunate House of Stuart

Stuart James VI of Scotland (and Ist of England) /

Stuart James VI of Scotland (and Ist of England) /

Genealogy:  The Stuart dynasty was important in the shaping of Britain and brought little luck to the family; they started as Stewards of Dol in Brittany around the end of the 11th century. Two of them became Stewards-Guardian of Scotland in the 13th century. Roberts I & II and David II were kings. James I of Scotland married Joan Beaufort, a granddaughter of John of Gaunt: their son James became IInd of Scotland. The English connection thus began, because John of Gaunt was a younger son of an English King (Edward III), and father to another English King (Henry IV).

James V of Scotland married the Frenchwoman Mary of Guise, and their daughter was the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots. Her son became James VI of Scotland and I of England, thus creating the United Kingdom. In a history of bloodletting, Mary was the first Stuart to be executed at the whim of a cousin – Queen Elizabeth I of England – a Tudor.

James VI & I married Anne of Denmark and one of their children became Charles I, King of Great Britain and Ireland. Charles married Henrietta of France and they had five children. The first of these became Charles II after the English parliament struck off the head of his father at Whitehall in 1649. Charles I was very small, not blessed with brains, very conscious of his royalty, and felt challenged by his own parliaments. His son Charles II was very tall (‘a black man two yards high’), easy-going, in exile for most of his youth, very fond of the ladies (he married Catherine of Braganza who gave him no heirs), and fathered countless bastards, all of whom he recognised. His mistresses (most of them anyway) became Duchesses, and the Duchies remain to this day. (q.v.)

When Charles II died he was succeeded by his handsome but weak brother James VII & II who managed to lose his throne within four years of mounting it. The main reasons for this disaster were his Catholicism and his indecision. His first wife was Anne Hyde, daughter of his chief minister, and they had two daughters. The first was Mary, who married William Prince of Orange (Dutch) who later became William III, joint monarch of England with his wife, who became Mary II of England. James’s second marriage was with Mary of Modena, and their son, who also lived in exile most of his life, became the chief Stuart Pretender – James Edward – also know as ‘The Old Pretender’.

This Stuart exile married Clementina Sobieski of Poland and they produced the glamorous, but always unlucky ‘Young Pretender’ Charles Edward, also known vulgarly as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. He had a pious brother, homosexual by instinct named Henry who called himself ‘Duke of York’ being the younger son of a king. He became a Cardinal.

Now we come to the reason why totally German Electors of Hanover came to be invited to become Kings of England.

A daughter of James VI & I, Elizabeth married Frederick, Elector Palatine and the couple had six children. The youngest of those who survived infancy married Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, and their wholly Protestant son became George I King of England, born 1660, King: 1714 – 27. He spoke not a word of English, and started the Georgian tradition of hating his eldest son, a tradition which continued right through the four Georges.

A history of the Stuarts or ‘Stewarts’ or ‘Stewards’

The family name of the Scottish monarchs from 1371 – 1714 and of the English monarchs from 1603 – 1714 was originally Stewart which itself evolved from the fact that a Walter Fitzallen was ‘Steward to the King of Scotland’. Walter’s descendent became the first Stewart King of Scotland as Robert II (king 1371 – 90). The marriage of Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII (the first Tudor) to James IV of Scotland liked the royal houses of England and Scotland for the first time. On the death of (Tudor) Elizabeth I without heirs in 1603, it was James VI of Scotland who became James I of England (and Scotland).

The Stuarts lost the throne for while after the murder of (Cavalier) Charles I by Oliver Cromwell and his ‘Roundheaded’ Parliament. It was re-awarded (in the Restoration) to Charles II in 1660. But Charles the merry monarch did not live as long as he would have liked, and his brother, who had converted to Catholicism after his marriage to a Catholic, reigned briefly in England as James II. The Glorious Revolution (q.v.) sent James into exile, and the crown passed to his daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William. As the couple were both monarchs they became known as ‘The Reign of Williamanmary’, but only to those who spoke in whispers. Their daughter Anne became Queen, but her death without heirs in 1714 meant the replacement of the Stuart house by the Hanoverian family headed by George I. There were, and still are, supporters of the exiled Stuarts called Jacobites. At table, if summoned for a royal toast, they will pass their glass of wine of the water jug, representing the image of ‘a King over the water’. In the years 1715 and 1745, there were failed attempts by Jacobites and their few England supporters to put exiled Stuarts back on the double throne. In both cases, the French had promised help but none appeared. Particularly brutal battles took place, such as Culloden, and much Scottish, English and foreign mercenary blood was spilled.

Though it is not exactly all’s well that ends well, at least George III (the Hanoverian/English king who lost Britain the American colonies) decided to award a pension to the last direct Stuart claimant, Henry, Cardinal York, who died after a life of piety in 1807. He was eighty-two.

It is a fact that many English people, especially if they are Roman Catholic, recognise James VII & II as the last legitimate King of Great Britain and Ireland. They consider William III a usurper, and his wife Mary the fan of an usurper. They find all four Hanoverian Georges nothing else but Teutonic, and their descendent, until Elizabeth II the same. It would appear that Elizabeth, actual Queen of Great Britain has only English and Scottish blood in her veins. It is also true that because of Queen Victoria’s penchant for marrying her children and grandchildren to princes of European blood, the English Queen is related, however faintly, to all other European royal families. (q.v.)

By | 2012-02-03T11:20:56+00:00 February 3rd, 2012|Dutch History, English History, French History, Today, World History|2 Comments

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.


  1. Rev. Wellington Curtis February 25, 2017 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    It really doesn’t matter to me whether or not you publish this correspondence; it’s certainly in your power to act, should you desire. I simply wish to express my appreciation for the extent history. Thank you.

  2. Mark Gumble December 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Minor nitpick, Queen Anne was Mary’s full blooded sister, being progeny of James II and Anne Hyde. Not her daughter. Otherwise an enjoyable article.

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