If the male Stuarts had stayed Anglican, would they have kept the throne?

Ok, granted not James I and V, Charles I or II, but OP says it all. Would the Glorious Revolution happened if James II was Protestant? Could the Old Pretender have rgained the throne if he had been Protestant?

How about Bonnie Prince Charlie? I don’t know what faith he professed but since he had the Scots on his side I figure he must have been Protestant.

Was William & Mary, Anne, and thence into the Georges inevitable? Or could a change of faith changed history?

Possibly. It was the birth of a son to James II, and hence the prospect of a Catholic Stuart dynasty, that precipitated the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Had James II been a staunch Anglican, things could well have been different. James II may possibly have reigned much longer and then been succeeded by his son. The Princesses Mary and Anne would have remained as footnotes in the history books.

It’s always hard to speculate – James II’s behavior toward Parliament was also a factor in the Glorious Revolution – but if he had been Anglican, Parliament probably wouldn’t have deposed him.

I’m pretty sure Bonnie Prince Charlie was Catholic, BTW. The Scots traditionally favored France, since they shared a common enemy, and Charlie has French support. Politics were more important that the relgion.

BPC was Catholic, and a furriner as well. He was born in Rome, married a Polish princess, and had fewer than a dozen supporters when he landed at Eriskay in 1745.

Had James II been Anglican, and had he married an Anglican, he probably would have remained on the throne.

I’ve always wondered about this. James Francis Edward Stuart was only a kid when the throne went to William and Mary, but after Anne died, he had an excellent claim, much better than his second cousin George of Hanover. Why didn’t he just say, “Whoops, I’ve had a change of heart. I was misled by my evil Catholic relations, but I now renounce all Romish popery and happy take the throne.” After he was in, surely he could have lived with the internal conflict? Or brought about a gradual reconciliation with Rome? Or at least dissolved the brand-new UK, taken the Scottish throne, and left the English (and dependents) to the Hanovers?

PS: He didn’t marry the Polish princess until 1719, well after the Glorious Revolution & Hanover Takeover. Agreed that it didn’t help BPC’s chances, though.

He’s now buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. I saw his tomb when I went there on my honeymoon.

London is worth an Anglican mass? :wink:

Just a WAG, but perhaps he took his religion more seriously than that. Not everyone is a cynic.

The union of the English and Scottish thrones dates from 1603, and it’s that which he’d have had to dissolve. It was hardly “brand-new”. Dissolving the 1707 Act of Union would have still left him as King of both England and Scotland. And Parliament wouldn’t have allowed him to do that anyway.

Are you certain about that? In 1603, the king of Scotland became king of England, but in theory the two were separate countries governed by the same king from London. The Scottish parliament remained independent until the Act of Union, f’r instance. It is my impression that the two parliaments passed the Act of Union precisely because, by the time of Queen Anne, the writing was on the wall for the Stuarts and they wanted to finalize the union before a change of dynasty. James Stuart could not have ascended the throne of England, but I do not know of anything that would have prevented him from becoming James VIII of Scotland had the Act of Union not been passed.

Clarification: this is the phrase I meant when I said “are you certain about that?” I wasn’t questioning A@BE’s facts.

But my point is, that by 1714 when Queen Anne died, the Act of Union *had *been passed. The first Jacobite rebellion did not occur until the year after. James Stuart made no attempt to take the throne of either England or Scotland until George I arrived on the scene. By which time the union was a fait accompli and the new Parliament of Great Britain (not the UK, btw) was firmly in control. They would *not *have allowed any king to break up the union on his own initiative.

Since no factual answer is really possible, let’s move this one to IMHO, where you can still get factual opinions of what might have been.

samclem GQ moderator

You have to remember that the British succession was not an internal British affair, but rather a small part of the vast struggle between Protestant Europe and Louis XIV, who was to Catholicism as Josef Stalin was to Communism. 25 years earlier, the English deposed James II, a Catholic (and thus the Sun King’s stooge) in favor of the Leader of the Free World, William of Orange. Looking at it that way, a clearly cynical conversion to Protestantism by the Old Pretender, a Paris-raised ward of the French court, would have convinced no-one. Would 1960 America have accepted a president who grew up in the Kremlin guest rooms? The Hanovers were ideolically pure, and they were no friends of France.

If Louis XIV had died before 1714, then there might have been a difference.

Of course, in the case of Charles Edward Stuart, we don’t need to speculate - he did convert. He was received into the Church of England in September 1750 during his secret visit to London.

And in that case, it made no difference. (Which is why he subsequently re-converted.) But that was because post-1746 most Jacobites had come to accept that the game was up anyway. Worse, there was the problem that since 1747 his brother, Henry, had been a cardinal. Charles was fully aware that this was a disaster. His conversion therefore looked too much like a cynical attempt to counteract the very embarassing fact that the only other remaining legitimate descendant of James II (apart from their father) was a Catholic priest.

But an earlier conversion would have been a very different matter.

The simplistic thing would be to say that it would have made all the difference, that for the king to be both a Stuart and a member of the Church of England was the optimum combination for maximum popularity. Many Anglicans certainly liked to think so. And they liked to think that they would have thought so if that was what had been on offer in 1688, in 1702 or 1714. Which, in a sense, in the first two cases, it was.

But, then again, what most of those Anglicans actually wanted was a hardline Anglican, who would rule only with their support. Which it isn’t obvious would have been any more viable. And, indeed, that is one reason why James II didn’t do that. By the late seventeenth-century any British ruler to be successful needed to balance a whole series of unstable religious and national interests. Several approaches were tried - in their various different ways, by Cromwell, by Charles II and by William III - and were sort-of successful. None of them involved the monarch being a conspicuously pious Anglican. The one monarch who was had been Charles I…

Being an Anglican wasn’t enough. It also required a certain flexibility. Being willing to adjust one’s religious beliefs was actually an advantage, not so much in the sense that one particular set of religious beliefs was a prerequsite for the job as that the nature of English Protestantism wasn’t necessarily fixed either and, in any case, there was Scotland and Ireland to be ruled as well. Thus, George I was an Anglican in England, a Lutheran in Hanover and, had he gone there, a Presbyterian in Scotland.

Firstly, 1715 was not the first Jacobite rebellion. James Francis Edward had attempted a landing in Scotland (with French military support) in 1708, doing so precisely in the hope of exploiting the controversy over the Union. That that attempt was a fiasco and he never actually landed doesn’t remove the crucial fact that it was attempted.

Secondly, exactly the same issue had arisen just half a century earlier at the time of the previous Stuart restoration. In 1660 the earlier Union of the Scottish and Irish Parliaments with the English Parliament had been swept aside as invalid. That had also appeared to be a fait accompli, yet the Scottish and Irish Parliaments were revived in an instant as if nothing had happened. True, the legitimist Stuart position had been that all the (English) legislation from between 1642 and 1660 was invalid anyway. But that more general issue would have arisen too in the event of a second Restoration. Part of the reason why hardline Jacobites opposed the 1707 Union was because they considered all legislation passed since 1689 to be no less invalid than that passed between 1642 and 1660 had been. If it had been done in 1660, why couldn’t it be done again? Of course, this might well have been another issue on which the returning Jacobite claimant would have had to make concessions. In exactly the way that many in early 1660 had expected that Charles II would have to recognise the Interregnum legislation to get his throne back. Except he hadn’t.

The prospect of a Jacobite restoration was indeed, as Dr. Drake suggests, the essential context of the 1707 Union. It was the only reason the English Parliament ever accepted it. Once that reason had been removed, as it would have been if there was a Jacobite restoration anyway, many in England would have had no great feelings on the matter either way. Just like in 1660.