Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to Bonnie Prince Charlie!

Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, "Bonnie Prince Charlie" was born on December 31, 1720 in the Palazzo Muti at Rome, eldest son of James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender and Maria Klementyna Sobieska. Pope Clement XI had recognized his parents' claim as King James III/VIII and Queen Consort and given them residence there.

The young prince who would claim the title of Charles III grew up in Rome and Bologna, was baptized Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Maria with one name referencing his Polish heritage (Casimir) and one paying tribute his father's erstwhile host, King Louis XIV of France.

In 1745 he led the Jacobite invasion of 1745, at first achieving some military success in his attempt to regain the throne of England, Ireland and Scotland for the Catholic Stuarts. The ultimate failure of the cause at Culloden left Scotland at the mercy of the Duke of Cumberland and Bonnie Prince Charlie wandering in Scotland before escaping to the Continent.

He returned to England in 1750 and briefly became an Anglican, hoping that would strengthen his claim and support. By the time he returned to Rome, he repented of that apostasy and returned to the Catholic Church. In 1759 he had another chance when the Duc de Choiseul, chief minister of King Louis XV planned another invasion--but he evidently made a poor impression on his prospective patron. In 1766 his father died and Pope Clement XIII did not recognize him as the rightful king. He married Princess Louise de Stolberg-Gedern and they had an even rockier marriage than his parents! More about him at the end of January, when we remember his death.

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