From Jacobite To Jacobin

I am of course interested in Jacobite History. I am interested in Church History. I am interested in Military History. It all comes nicely together in the period 1688-1793 and the Wild Geese Period.
Certainly adventure tales like “Kidnapped” (Robert Louis Stevenson) and “The Flight of the Heron” (D K Broster) and music fro, Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile thru Jackets Green to Clares Dragoons or stories about Galloping Hogan. Meeting people like the late Sean Ryan (a fokelorist and frankly fantasist) from Portumna and the late Martin Joyce (a primary school teacher) from near Ballinasloe helps. Walking battlefields like Aughrim and Culloden or sitting at Sarsfields Rock as well as a limited ancestral involvement contributes.
And of course castles like Carlisle and the “licking stones” in the dungeons and Athlone.
And of course the entire European connexion…Fontenoy etc.

Necessarily my interest has allowed me to meet people with broadly similar interests. Enthusiatics amateurs like myself and professional historians…and lunatics. There are incredibly people who are still Jacobites or more precisely pretend that they are Jacobites. Fantasists who believe that the entirely blameless Franz, Duke in (sic) Bavaria is actually the lawful King Francis, of England, Scotland and Ireland. To his immense credit he thinks his loyal Jacobite subjects are insane. He is much to polite to say this and his silence is interpreted by the Jacobite lunatics as his “serene and regal discretion”.
But the tweedy aristocratic wannabees in the Jacobite fantasy world are more than snobs, brown-nosing a harmless old buffer (actually the Duke is a very kindly individual) in Bavaria. They are legitimists…firm believers in the historic and religious rights of Monarchy, whether in Britain, Russia, France or Portugal. A divine right as kingdoms were parcelled out by GOD (via the Pope) to the great European warlords …er kings.
Thus in the legitimist world, Ireland, Algeria, Brazil have no right to exist.
Nor does the United States. In “Jacobite” eyes, the USA is in rebellion and must renounce its error and re-join with Canada to re-form British North America and submit to…King Francis I.
I am not holding my breath.
To deviate from accepting this GOD inspired Truth…to embrace Republicanism is to embrace Satanism. Logically…in so far as lunatics can be logical…Satan, the subject who rebelled against GOD was the first Republican. That all ended badly.

I am of course persona non grata in true Jacobite circles. A Republican on a par with …Scottish Nationalists.
Is it possible to be a Jacobite and a Republican? No of course not.
But it is possible to be aware that Irelands 800 year struggle has been against the background of Norman warlords, Anglo-Norman aristocracy, Church rule…the culture wars, European religious wars, Plantation, English Civil War, English dynastic wars (the Jacobites), European dynastic wars, revolutionary/republican wars and the age old “Englands difficulty is Irelands opportunity”
We cannot impose 21st century ideas back thru to the 12th century.
Nor can we impose the Jacobite period on the 21st century.
A republican, indeed anyone with an ounce of wit would reject the Legitimist notion of a Divine Right.
A nationalist would certainly reject the notion of a subservient Kingdom of Ireland.

But legitimists and Jacobites are of course IDIOTS.
It should be possible to mention just two things to them as they tearfully raise a toast to the King Over the Watter (sic).
After the defeat at Culloden in April 1746, the remaining Highland clans gathered at the pre-arranged rendezvous at Ruthven Barracks to hear some inspirational words from their Bonnie Prince Charlie. The fight would continue, would it not?
Well no….because true to form, Charlie, a serial rapist and abuser of women was already on the run thru the heather…on his way back to Europe where he would forever curse the Scots for betraying him.
The inspirational proxy message to the clans at Ruthven was not that inspirational after all. It merely stated that all was lost and the clans “must shift for themselves” (ie look after their own best interests). Charles had abandoned them.
And of course those who were not hanged, transported or starved DID shift for themselves. Many joined or were pressed into Highland regiments. From North America in the 1750s to Aden in the 1960s, they built and lost an empire. Next year in the referendum on Scotland, they will have the opportunity to shift of themselves again.

And of course North America (1776-1783) and France (1789-1793) provided notably for the Irish a degree of inspiration to shift for themselves.
Of course no nation needs an instruction from a useless piece of humanity like Charles Edward Stewart to shift for themselves.
But within the bizarre logic of “true” Jacobitism, the simple fact is that Irish nationalism/republicanism is the fulfilment of Prince Charles last “order”.

But just a final thought the Irish Republican was proclaimed at Easter 1916, when the British were fighting the Germans in the First World War. German weapons were used. The Proclamation of Easter 1916 recognises Gallant German allies. A German UBoat landed Roger Casement in County Kerry. And perhaps most significantly for Jacobites is that those gallant German allies included the so-called Jacobite Crown Prince doing his bit on the Western Front… for his Irish Republican allies.
Even in the crazy Jacobite World, that is de facto recognition of the Republic of Ireland.

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9 Responses to From Jacobite To Jacobin

  1. sammymcnally says:


    Very interesting, the whole royalty thing is fascinating – which we republicans can observe with some amusement from our lofty principled position.

    What interests me is how the religious-euro-crown wars fought in Ireland e.g. siege of Limerick are somehow packaged up with other ‘Irish’ struggles as if they shared a common objective. The fact that they represent Catholics against Protestants reinforces this view.

    if the Jacobites had been sucessful would Catholic Ireland have needed or wanted to fight for its freedom – this is a rather disconcerting thought – at leatst for me – to view Irelands ‘good fights’ at least in part as being concerned with whether some middle-eastern lady was a virgin when she gave birth or whether somemiddle eastern man appears on a platter regularly throughout Ireland during holy communion- especially (and with due respect to the Holy Ghost) that seems a tad unlikley.

    Quite what the role of rleigion is/was in the latest phase of violent exchanges between Hibernia Immaculata and Perfidious Albion remains unclear – but it is perhaps unlikley that for example the hunger strikers would have gone through with it had they not been firm believers?

    As recenct exchanges elsewhere have indicated those like yourself who support continuing catholic chuch involvemnet in education – in spite of all the crimes the church has committed – suggests that the Catholic religion has somehow worked its way into some of the Irish DNA – and perhaps Jacobitism was but an earlier representation of this – and I wonder underneath it all just how differnet we are form themmuns in this respect?

    • I cant of course say that anyone adhering to Catholicism is morally or intellectually superior or inferior to anyone who doesnt.
      The point that I make is that over 800 years the struggle between Britain and Ireland has been set against a lot of different contexts.
      The “what if” counter-factual thing is a recurring theme within Jacobite wannabees. What would have happened if the Highlanders had not turned back at Derby in December 1745?
      But ultimately a Jacobite victory would have led to a weaker Britain…and Irish Wild Geese leaders, would certainly have been running Ireland. There would undoubtedly have been some tensions between those who were Ascendancy figures..anglo-Irish and the old Gaelic Irish families who had fought together. Either way, in the nature of these things, people would have carved out the maximum amount of influence within Ireland and that would probably lead to autonomy and independence.
      The problem with counter-factual history is that there are always external factors…wars, revolutions, famines.
      Things change.
      Remember that in 1800 Catholics were in favour of the Act of Union. It protected them from the excesses of the Ascendancy in an Irish Parliament.
      But by 1900, the position had totally changed. Protestants looked to London to protect them from a Catholic majority.
      Over 800 years, we can look on Silken Thomas, The Ulster Earls, The Confederacy, Patrick Sarsfield, Father Murphy of Boulavogue or Daniel O’Connell with a certain 2013 attitude.
      Over the next 800 years, this will be ongoing.
      And the struggle will have other contexts which we would not be able to understand.
      And students in the 21st, 24th, 27th century will be as bemused by the 2013 context.

  2. You definitely sound like more of a Jacobin than Jacobite 😉

    There is a tendency for Irish Republicans to think of their political beliefs in terms of an unbroken ideological tradition from the Society of the United Irishmen to the contemporary equivalents, party political or otherwise. However that is a bit of a conceit. One suspects that in reality Wolfe Tone and Pádraig Mac Piarais would have found as much to disagree about as agree. The United Irishmen were very much anglophone Irish Republicans: English-speaking, English-reading, English-thinking. The Ireland they would have created might well have been as inimical to indigenous Irish identity as the colonial alternative. Indeed Tone and co. were in some ways much like the American Patriots, settlers and their descendants in a colonised land with a pre-existing native population who wished their colony to become a nation in its own right. But one based on their colonial identity.

    • Thats reasonable.
      But I would add that 1798 was actually three different events.
      In Antrim/Down and Dublin it was a revolution.
      While there was certainly an aspect of that in Wexford , part of it was a “Jacquerie”, a peasant revolt and in Connacht it was a Rebellion in the old fashioned sense.

      • That’s very true. The Defenders were in the main Irish-speaking or bilingual and many identified with a Native or Gaelic Irish identity (regardless of origin or religion – in fact a significant minority were Protestant: some of Scots-Irish and Anglo-Irish origin but plenty of native converts too). The United Irishmen were in the main English-speaking, largely Anglo-Irish, Scots-Irish and Protestant (at the leadership level most obviously). They were the “New Irish” of their day and in the ascendant. The problem for them was that they needed the support of the “Old Irish” to succeed in severing the “connection”.

        However one wonders what might have happened had they succeeded? A civil war between old and new definitions of Irishness or a union of both? The common name of Irishman as espoused by Tone was to a very definite template already achieved by Plantation and Pale. Where would the Macs and Ós, the Nís and Nics, have been in that new Irish order?

      • I just dont know and to be honest, I always avoid the counter-factual.
        There is actually a database of Wild Geese (and indeed earlier) and also one for French seminaries and the interesting thing is the mix of Irish names with “Anglo” names.
        The Fitzjames Horse inspection of 1738…the closest to Fontenoy/Culloden is interesting.Officers like McDonnell and a few officers from the Nugent family in County Westmeath. And the Farrells of County Longford have a connexion.
        yet a look at the “troopers” show that there the bulk of them were from (as might be expected) from South Leinster and Munster.
        just what the motivation was…loss of land, prestige..I honestly cant see a particular affection for the Stuarts except in the sense that they presented an alternative.
        Certainly by 1738,Irish…whether Anglo or “English” or Irish” would have known the Stuarts were more trouble than they were worth. I wouldnt rule out simple revenge as a motivation. or simple “resistance” in itself. nd that might be th nearest we get to a ” national” motivation.

  3. There is some well-known Irish poetry on the Stuarts that speaks of them in almost messianic terms from a quite late period. It was an odd obsession. I agree that an Irish resistance-in-exile was certainly a factor for the existence of the Wild Geese. Then again many simply sought a purpose, livelihood, standing, etc.

  4. cobrunstrom says:

    Franz’s 80th birthday today as it happens – here’s a post of my own…

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