Showing posts with label ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ireland. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Young Pretender and the Jacobites

Charles Stuart, also known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' or 'The Young Pretender' is a near mythic figure, and a Scottish national hero. His 1745 uprising against the House of Hanover, culminating in the disastrous battle of Culloden is romanticized as a brave, but tragic attempt at freedom against an unwanted government. To this day, Charles Stuart is the face of the Jacobites, and he's idolized by modern Scots and people of Scottish descent.

Related image
Charles Edward Stuart
However, the facts are that Charlie and his '45 Rebellion was the end of the militant Jacobite movement. Charlie's defeat at Culloden, and the subsequent Hanoverian crackdown on the Scottish people saw that the Jacobites would never rise again, and essentially put paid to any hopes of renewing the Stuart dynasty.

Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart was born not in Scotland, but in Rome. Related to both the Pope and the King of France, Charlie had a privileged upbringing, despite living in exile from his ancestral home. He was a keen hunter, and was well educated in both books and courtly manners. His father, James III and VIII, also known as 'The Old Pretender' raised him as the Prince of Wales, and awarded him several honors and orders of the British kingdom. Between this and his father's obsession with regaining his throne, it is no surprise that in his early 20s Charles devoted himself to reclaiming the English throne.

In 1745 Charlie invaded Scotland with the intent of ousting George I. Accompanied by an army of French and Scottish Highland supporters, Charlie managed to retake Scotland, and parts of England. However, due to infighting, desertion, lack of funds, and poor military choices on Charles' part, the Jacobites were defeated at the disastrous Battle of Culloden in 1746, and Charles Stuart fled back to France.

Though he's hailed as a hero, the truth is that Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart peaked at 25. After returning to France Charles tried to rally support for another invasion of the British Isles, but was unsuccessful. He had an illegitimate daughter, and at age 52 he married a 19 year old, whom he forced into a convent soon after. He died at age 63, sick, embittered, estranged from both his father (who had converted to Anglicism) and his brother.
Related image
James II was deposed by his Protestant daughter.
James was Catholic, and his second wife was
related to the Pope of the time
Though, as mentioned above, Charlie is the face of militant Jacobiteism, he was, by no means, the entirety of the movement. Jacobiteism started in 1688 when James II, the last catholic King of England, was forced into exile by his protestant daughter Mary II, and her husband, William of Orange. The movement really got going though in 1714 when Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart Monarchs, was succeeded by German George I, the first monarch of the House of Hanover.

There were two uprisings prior to the Hanoverian take over, one in 1689, and one in 1708. The 1689 rebellion was lead by James II, the ousted Catholic King. James II's uprising was almost immediately after the 'Glorious Revolution', and was moderately successful. James II was proclaimed King of England, Scotland, and Ireland by a parliament held in Dublin, but his French-Scottish forces were ultimately defeated by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne. The 1708 uprising, largely French, was short lived and unsuccessful.

The next Jacobite uprising of note, 'The Fifteen', took place in 1715, directly after George I's succession to the throne. George I was vastly unpopular with a large percentage of the people. He was a foreigner, didn't speak English, and had an open disdain for England and its people. This, combined with a divided government made the Hanovers an easy target for John Erskine, 6th Duke of Mar. Erskine managed to raise a large part of the Northeast, and the Jacobite clans to the cause of James the III and VIII, and James set out for Scotland. While Erskine did progress as far as Perth, he was ultimately defeated by the Duke of Argyll, and James arrived too late to participate in any actual battling. However, though 'The Fifteen' was a failure, it was vital proof that a large scale uprising against the house of Hanover could be made. The proof remained strong in the minds of the exiled Stuarts and Jacobites even after the failure of the Highland Uprising of 1719. It was with the memories of 'The Fifteen' in mind that Bonnie Prince Charlie and his forces set out for what would become known as 'The Forty-Five'.

Image result for Jacobite banner
Flag of Bonnie Prince Charlie
Charles was only 25 when he launched his invasion of Scotland. Backed by a modest French force, with promises of more reinforcements from France and Sweden, Charlie landed on the west coast of Scotland in July of 1745, convinced that the Scottish people would soon join him.

Charlie had been raised to believe that Britain, especially Scotland, was a hotbed of Jacobite sympathy, and that all he had to do was raise his banner, and the people would rally to his cause. In reality, while many Scots and Englishmen had Jacobite sympathies, most of them were unwilling to fight for a ill equipped king. In reality, it was largely the Highland Scots who came to Charlie's aid.

At the time, England was engaged in the Austrian War of Succession, and large parts of the English forces were fighting abroad in France and the North American Colonies. England was largely undefended, and due to a majority Whig government, many members of the Tory party were glad to support the Stuarts. Due to this support, and lack of opposition, Charles and his army were able to progress quickly through Scotland. He marched triumphantly into Edinburgh just two months after landing in Scotland, and with every victory more and more soldiers flocked to his cause. Charlie quickly took Perth, Prestonpans, and Derby before his supporters started to have doubts. Though Charles wanted to march on London from Derby, he and his army turned back to lay siege to Stirling Castle.

Image result for William duke of cumberland
William, Duke of Cumberland
As a military leader, Charlie was brash and reckless. He had a habit of ignoring his advisers, and relied heavily on the Highland Scot's favored tactic of a head-on charge. Historians speculate that had he continued his habit of ignoring his generals he may have successfully taken London and the throne, but at the worst possible moment Charlie decided to heed his adviser's cautioning.

Their retreat back into Scotland allowed William, Duke of Cumberland, to catch up with the Jacobites. George I, nervous about the Young Pretender's success had summoned his brother back to England, and the Duke of Cumberland was challenged the Jacobites relentlessly. Though the Jacobites enjoyed several early victories against the Duke, the battles began to become more difficult, and Charlie lost soldiers to desertion and death at an alarming rate.

On April 15, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland caught up to the Jacobites at Culloden, near Inverness. Ignoring the warnings of his advisers, Charlie chose Culloden as a battle site, despite the fact that the marshy ground would hinder the highlander's ability to charge, and allowed the English the better position. Charlie sent his men to raid the English camp the night of the 15th, and when the two forces met on the morning of the 16th, the Jacobite forces were tired,  divided, and hindered by the mud. Despite their best attempts, the Jacobites were defeated after only 40 minutes of fighting, and those who weren't killed fled into the highlands, pursued by the Hanoverian army.

Charlie survived the battle, spending five months on the run before with the help of Flora MacDonald, whom we've discussed before, he was able to escape back to France

The defeat at Culloden was a disaster for the Scots. Determined to quash the Jacobites once and for all, soldiers of the Young Pretenders army were hunted down, and killed without mercy. Those who weren't killed were transported, marking the first mass immigration of Scots to North America.

Image result for culloden battlefield
Furthermore, the tartan, kilts, bagpipes, and the Scottish language were all outlawed in an attempt to kill Scottish culture. The ancient Scottish right to bear arms was revoked, and English soldiers combed the highlands, brutally disarming the residents, and commandeering their homes.

Though there is still a Stuart Pretender to the Throne, the Jacobite movement is all but extinct today. The Hanover dynasty ended with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and, given the fact that Elizabeth II is widely rumored to be immortal, it seems unlikely that the House of Windsor is going anywhere soon. However, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause remain firm as a symbol of Scottish nationalism, and hope for independence.

Bonnie Prince Charlie by Carolly Erickson
The Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden--English History
The Jacobite Rebellion of 1745
Jacobite--British History
The Jacobite Revolts: Chronology
Who Was Bonnie Prince Charlie
The Myths of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites
Charles Edward, the Young Pretender--British Prince
House of Stuart Family Tree
The House of Stuart
The House of Stuart--Scottish and English Royal Family

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tory Island

Tory Island is a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Separated from County Donegal by a little more than seven miles of ocean, it is the last remaining part of Ireland to have a King. Tory is known for its art, culture, scenery, and mythic past. According to the stories, Tory used to be home to the Fomorians-- massive one-eyed giants with a thirst for human blood.

Image result for dún bhaloir
Dún Bhaloir
According to legend, Balor, the king of the Fomorians, lived in a gigantic fortress on Tory Island. He had locked his daughter Eithne in a tower, because of a prophecy that said he would be killed by his own grandson. Balor did end up being killed by his grandson Lugh, the son god, but the ruins of the fortress where Eithne was supposedly imprisoned stands on Tory Island today as the Dún Bhaloir, a narrow, rocky natural stone wall that juts out dramatically into the sea.

Ancient legend aside, Tory Island's history is defined by the arrival of Colm Cille, or St. Colombcile. Colm arrived on Tory sometime in the 6th century, prepared to spread Christianity. He encountered only pagans, but in a surprising turn of events, there was no hostility from either side, in fact, an Islander named Duggan asked for Colm's help. Tory was being raided by pirates all the damn time, and Duggan was, understandably worried about trifling things like his home, family,  life. Colm was so impressed by this man who took the initiative to share his problems, he declared Duggan king of Tory Island. He told Duggan to challenge the pirates. Duggan did so, and the pirates never bothered the island again. Impressed, the entire island converted to Christianity, and Colm built a monastery. Colm also gave Duggan a pot made of magical clay that drove all the rats out of Tory. While many people may be skeptical of 'magical clay', there are no rats on Tory, and the pot rests in the possession of the Duggan family to this day.

Image result for tory island cross
Tau Cross, erected by Colm Cille, is one of
the few T shaped crosses in Ireland
St. Colombcile's declaration of kingship became one of the island's most cherished traditions, a tradition that carries on to this day. In modern times the king is elected, and his kingly duties include things like greeting tourists at the docks, seeing tourists off, maintaining the cultural integrity of the island, and politely refusing the Irish government's offers to resettle the people on Tory on the mainland. The current king of Tory is one Patsy Dan Rodgers. Rodgers, like many of the inhabitants, is an artist.

Art is another thing that Tory is famous for. The Islanders have a style of 'primitive painting' unique to the island. It was started in the 1950s when artist Derek Hill stopped by, and was saucily told by local James Dixon that he, Dixon, could paint much better than Hill. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and the beginning of a new school of painting devoted to capturing the beauty of island life. You can see the contents of the local art gallery here.

Today, Tory is a summer home for artists, and a short stop for tourists. The permanent population is rapidly shrinking in growth, with only four children being born on the island in the last eight years. The Donegal government has, more than once, offered to resettle the islanders on the mainland, but the few islanders that live on Tory can't be bought, and remain faithfully on the island.

2019 Update: Unfortunately, Patsy Dan Rodgers passed away on October 19, 2018. His successor as king has not been nominated, and it is unsure if the tradition of kingship on Tory will continue.
Patsy Dan Rodgers

Story of the Irish Race by Seamus MacManus
Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
History of Tory
A Visit to Tory Island
Tory Island, the Secret Kingdom
The Last King of Ireland

Friday, August 11, 2017

Damn, Girl-Grace O'Malley

Granuaile Ni Maille, or Grace O'Malley as she is known in English, is the undisputed pirate queen. She was a fierce chieftain, a shrewd businesswoman, and she knew the ocean like the back of her hand. She was a formidable woman to cross, and heaven help any who tried. She would do anything to protect her lands and family, and she was so fierce that Elizabeth I, the queen of Grace's enemy, bestowed a pension on her, and showed her the greatest respect.

Image result for clew bay ireland
Clew Bay
Grace was born in County Mayo in 1530. Her father, Dubhdara, was the chieftain of the O'Malley clan, and controlled the southern part of Clew Bay. Like Grace, Dubhdara earned his living from the sea as well as from the land, something highly unusual for a chieftain.

At the age of 15, Grace married Donal O'Flaherty, the incompetent leader of Connemara. By all accounts their marriage was unhappy though three children came of it. It was during this time that Grace started to flex her muscles as a political leader. Donal was a poor, petty leader who insisted on fighting with the Joyce clan. He was killed by the Joyce's while trying to defend Cork Castle, and that was the start of Grace's true political career. She lead the remaining men of the O'Flaherty clan, and reclaimed Cork Castle from the Joyce's. She fought so fiercely that the castle was renamed 'Hen's Castle', the name it carries to this day.

Grace had a very short temper, and she was 100% dtf--down to fight. She amassed a great amount of wealth by taxing and stealing from the sailors who came through her waters, and clashed frequently with her neighbors, as well as the English officials who were attempting to encroach into Ireland.

One of the more colorful stories of Grace's combative nature is her beef with the Earl of Howth. The Earl had refused hospitality to Grace one night. This was against the Irish traditions, and the Earl's break with tradition so incensed Grace that she kidnapped his heir. In order to get his son back, the Earl had to agree to Grace's demands that the gates of the castle never be closed at dinner time, and that an extra place always be laid for her. The Earl's descendants lay a place for her at dinnertime to this day.

Image result for hen's castle
Hen's Castle
Grace took control of her father's lands after he died, and in 1566 she decided that it was time to remarry. Like any responsible sixteenth century leader, Grace married for political and militaristic power. In her case, it was for a castle.

Richard-in-Iron, chieftain of the Bourkes, was not only in possession of the north end of Clew Bay, but he also had Rockfleet Castle, a pretty nifty fortified tower that looked out over the entire bay, and was almost impossible to sneak up on by water. By marrying him Grace got control of the entire bay, as well as a very strategic castle. However, before marrying, the pair signed a prenup. Richard was given a one year 'trial period'*, at the end of which Grace could put him away or keep him. Either way, however, Grace got the castle. Unsurprisingly, a year later Richard came home to find himself locked out of his own castle. Grace 'dismissed' Richard, effectively divorcing him, but the pair remained close throughout the rest of Richard's life.

This wasn't the only time Grace efectively strong-armed the Bourke's out of their castle. Fast forward a few years to Richard-in-Iron's death, and instead of vacating the premise like the Brehon laws dictated that the widow of a Chieftain should do, Grace and her many, many of whom were Richard's old men, stayed in the castle, and challenged the rest of the Bourke's to fight them for it. Unsurprisingly, Rockfleet remained in Grace's possession.

Marriage and childbearing in no way slowed Grace down. She didn't let small trifles like childbirth stop her from sailing out with her men. On one particularly memorable occasion, she gave birth to a son on one of her ships. The next day, her men were set upon by Algerian pirates. Grace was below decks nursing her son when the pirates attacked. However, when her men started losing, Grace stormed above decks with a gun, cursing the men who made her get up and fight a day after having a child. Grace's arrival turned the tide of battle, and the Algerians were beaten off.

Rockfleet Castle
Grace's greatest enemy was Sir Richard Bingham, the crown appointed governor of the Connaght region. Bingham was a hard man, and he singled Grace and her family out. He dubbed her the "nurse of all rebellions for 40 years", and made it his personal mission to see her and her family wiped out, and her lands come under control of the English crown. He killed her eldest son, Owen, and torched her lands, driving Grace and her people to live in their ships.

Not only did Bingham kill Grace's eldest son, but he also managed to entice her middle son, Murrough to his side. Grace was furious when Murrough and his people defected, so she laid siege to his lands,  and captured his castle, very effectively reminding him who was in charge.

In 1593, Bingham had Grace backed into a corner. He had thoroughly ruined her lands, and he had her youngest son, Tibbott, imprisoned. Never one to be beaten, Grace decided to go over Bingham's head. There was no way she could meet him in combat, so she sent a petition to Queen Elizabeth, complaining that Bingham was treating her unfairly. In June of that year, Grace sailed to Greenwhich, and by September she finally had an audience with the queen.

There were a lot of similarities between England's Queen and Ireland's Pirate Queen. Both were intensely intelligent, fierce women, who were unused to making compromises. They had both succeeded in a man's world, and both were very used to winning. They were both proud and bold. They would either be best friends or worst enemies. Luckily for Grace, they were friends, or at least, friendly.
Image result for grace o'malley
The meeting of Grace (left) and Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth granted Grace's petition. She ordered Bingham to back off, and eventually ended up recalling him to England, where he ended his days in the Tower of London. While she had technically sworn allegiance to the English crown, Grace more or less went back to her pirating ways.

She was an old woman by now, but if childbearing couldn't keep her from the sea, then neither could old age. There are reports of her leading raids in Scotland well into her seventies, and she fought alongside the English at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. With as rough and swashbuckling of a life as she lived, it is very surprising that Grace died of natural causes. She died at age 73 at Rockfleet castle.

*This wasn't so unusual in Irish tradition. In comparison with the rest of the ancient world Celtic women enjoyed many rights, including keeping their own property, and the right to divorce. Additionally, marriages were very fluid, and many ancient Celtic marriages had a one year trial period. Because of their distance from Rome, many of these traditions continued even after St. Patrick 'brought Christianity' to Ireland.

"Ireland's Pirate Queen" by Anne Chambers--World of Hibernia, Spring 1999
Warrior Women, Episode 2-Grace O'Malley (documentary)
Meeting Grace O'Malley, Ireland's Pirate Queen
Graihne Mhaol, Pirate Queen of Connacht: Behind the Legend