The Irish to the Rescue

The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape

by Richard Maher (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection XIV, 192 Pages


In May 1719, the rescue and escape of Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska from her detention in Innsbruck was celebrated throughout Catholic Europe. It was a feat of painstaking planning, daring execution, and steel-nerved improvisation. Masterminded by Kildareman Charles Wogan, he and his Irish and French companions influenced the course of international relations, shocking King George I’s government in London, and providing a much-needed boon to the followers of the exiled Stuart claimant, James Stuart III.
This unique collection of essays does not merely recount the factual story of Maria Clementina’s rescue and subsequent marriage, it provides for the first time in any publication an authoritative analysis of its political and cultural significance and the full historical context in which the event took place. A full image of Europe at the time of the rescue is sketched out, including such topics as the question of the Irish in Europe in the eighteenth century; the illustrious Sobieski family and their origins; a short account of the rescue itself; the fate of Charles Wogan and
his followers after the rescue; the Habsburg-Hanoverian alliance and its context; the marriage of James Stuart III and Maria Clementina Sobieska; details of the collection of Stuart artefacts housed at Trinity College Dublin; and contemporary musical compositions which were written and dedicated to Maria Clementina.
This book is a follow-on publication from a public seminar titled The Irish the Rescue: The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape. The seminar was held at Europe House in Dublin on 30th April 2019.
The seminar and the publication of its proceedings have been generously sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ireland and the Embassy of France in Ireland.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Illustrations
  • Polish Ambassador’s Note
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: MARY ANN LYONS
  • 1 Irish Jacobite Military Exiles in Europe, 1691–1748: ÉAMONN Ó CIARDHA
  • 2 The Sobieskis: A Polish Royal Family in the History of Europe: JAROSŁAW PIETRZAK
  • 3 The Rescue and Escape of Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska: RICHARD K. MAHER
  • 4 Service and Exile: Sir Charles Wogan, 1715–1719: RICHARD K. MAHER
  • 5 The Habsburg-Hanoverian Alliance and Its Perspective on the Stuart-Sobieska Match: DECLAN M. DOWNEY
  • 6 Clementina Sobieska at the Jacobite Court: EDWARD CORP
  • 7 Political Allusions in Music Dedicated to James Stuart and Maria Clementina in 1719: ANETA MARKUSZEWSKA
  • 8 Princess Clementina’s Marriage Certificate and Other Jacobite Relics in the Library of Trinity College Dublin: ESTELLE GITTINS
  • Contributors
  • Index

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Frontispiece: Antonio David, after Martin van Meytens, Queen Clementina, 1725

Figure 1.1 Antonio David, after Martin van Meytens, King James III, 1725.

Figure 1.2 Portrait of a gentleman [Charles Wogan], c.1700–1710.

Figure 2.1 Portrait of Queen Maria Kazimiera with her son Jakub, c.1676.

Figure 2.2 Benoît Farjat after Henri Gascar, Ioannes III Rex Poloniae Invictissimus, etc.

Figure 4.1 Regimental Insignia of Arthur Dillon’s Irish Regiment.

Figure 5.1 Jan Kupecký, Kaiser Karl VI [Emperor Charles VI], 1716.

Figure 6.1 Agostino Masucci, The Solemnisation of the Marriage of King James III and Queen Clementina at Montefiascone on 1 September 1719, 1735.

Figure 6.2 Francesco Trevisani, Queen Clementina, 1719.

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Figure 6.3 Pierre Drevet after Antonio David, Queen Clementina, 1719.

Figure 6.4 Girolamo Pesci, Queen Clementina, 1721.

Figure 6.5 Girolamo Pesci, Queen Clementina, 1721.

Figure 6.6 Antonio David, Queen Clementina, 1722.

Figure 6.7 Antonio David, Queen Clementina, 1727.

Figure 6.8 Miguel de Sorello after Agostino Masucci, Queen Clementina, 1735.

Figure 7.1 Santa Maria Maddalena De’ Pazzi – Oratorio a quattro Voci [Title Page of Oratorio dedicated to King James III and Queen Clementina], 1719.

Figure 8.1 Minerua, Pope Clement XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani), 1649–1721.

Figure 8.2 The Marriage Certificate of King James III and Queen Clementina, TCD MS 7475 (1).

Figure 8.3 The Marriage Certificate of King James III and Queen Clementina, TCD MS 7475 (2).

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Polish Ambassador’s Note

Dear Readers,

The dynamic pace of contemporary politics oftentimes results in an immersion in the present based on the assumption that the challenges and the opportunities we face are unprecedented in our common European history. Therefore it is so the more refreshing and intellectually enlightening to undertake an exercise of looking back to events which transcended borders, involved royals and exiles, gave insight into the role women play in politics, and resulted in heart-stopping adventure exactly 300 years ago.

I am delighted the three centuries’ old story of the Polish Princess Clementina Sobieska’s elopement, with the help of an Irish soldier of fortune, and marriage to the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of Britain and Ireland, James Francis Edward Stuart, has been revived, retold and is being collected in a book form for generations to come. It is a story where courage, beauty and strong characters played a role and shaped European history.

The commemoration of this 300 years’ old story also merits attention as it reminds contemporaries that the Sobieski royal family was a symbol and proof of the strength and greatness of Rzeczpospolita. The story of the ←xi | xii→unconventional and beautiful princess Clementina Sobieska, who achieved her goal with the support of a rescue party of Irish people and a French aide, is one that symbolises the truly international roots of European history as well as the affinity between the Polish and the Irish, their willingness to join forces for the greater good.

This book itself is a result of exemplary transnational cooperation. The commitment of the editor and the contribution of all authors should be recognised.

Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Ireland

H. E. Anna Sochańska

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Both the seminar and this publication have received crucial financial support from the Polish Embassy in Dublin without which it would have been impossible to succeed. I extend especial thanks and profound gratitude to Dr Galia Chimiak who was Cultural and Media Affairs Officer at the Polish Embassy in Dublin, for her interest, advice and unstinting support to ensure the seminar and the follow-on publication were realised. I also wish to thank Dr Łukasz Chimiak who was Chargé d’Affaires of the Republic of Poland in Ireland for his support for both projects.

Both the seminar and this publication were also financially supported by the French Embassy in Dublin and I extend my thanks to its wonderful staff, Dr Marc Daumas, Science Attaché, and also to Ms Louise Aupetit who was very helpful in the planning and organisation of the seminar. I would like to thank Ms Christine Weld from the Alliance Française in Dublin who was also very helpful in preparation for the seminar. For his attendance on the day of the seminar, I thank H. E. Mr Stéphan Crouzat, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Ireland.

The editor wishes to sincerely thank Uachtarán na hÉireann - the President of Ireland, H. E. Michael D. Higgins for his interest in and attendance at the public seminar held on 30 April 2019 to commemorate Princess Clementina’s rescue and escape. I also extend thanks to Mrs Sabina Higgins who expressed support for the seminar.

I acknowledge the very generous financial assistance offered by Principal Bernadette Moore and Deputy Principal Anna Morris of Rathmines College of Further Education which allowed the proceedings of the seminar to be recorded and published via podcast on the History Hub website. I thank them both for their support for the projects and for their attendance on the day of the seminar.

Dublin City Council kindly funded the tea, coffee and biscuits which were supplied at the interval during the seminar, and which were very much appreciated by both audience and academic participants.

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I give hearty thanks to my friend Gary Dolan at Print Stations Ltd who supplied all printed materials to an excellent standard. The materials were used in the promotion of the seminar and were displayed and shared on the day itself.

I share my sincere appreciation for the staff of Europe House in Dublin who very kindly offered us the use of their main conference room gratis. This allowed us to move our plans forward rapidly.

I acknowledge an offer of help from the Technological University of Dublin for accommodation for one of the academic participants for which I am most grateful.

It has been my utmost pleasure to work with the academic participants of the seminar in April 2019, who are now contributing to this publication. They delivered excellent papers on the day of the seminar and generated huge interest in it. I am particularly indebted to Dr Declan Downey for his constant support and advice, and I wish now to express to him my profound gratitude for his professional guidance and his friendship over the past number of years. I sincerely thank Professor Edward Corp for his provision and explanation of the portraits of Queen Clementina used in this publication.

The National Museum of Neiborów and Arkadia, a branch of the National Museum in Warsaw, very kindly allowed us to use the portrait of Maria Kazimiera gratis and for that I thank them. I also express thanks to the staff at the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów who helped me identify and obtain permission to use some of the images used here. For other images used here, the editor extends his thanks to the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, and the National Galleries of Scotland for their professionalism and their courtesy in providing me with some of the images contained in this book. For supplying an image at short notice I wish to thank the Vienna Museum.


XIV, 192
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (April)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2021. XIV, 192 pp., 12 fig. col., 8 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Richard Maher (Volume editor)

Richard K. Maher is a teacher of Gaeilge, politics, cultural and social history, and English as a second language at Rathmines of Further Education in Dublin. He graduated from UCD with a first-class M.A. in Irish Studies in 2013. He played a significant part in the organisation of the public seminar held at Europe House on 30 April 2019 which celebrated the tercentenary of Princess Clementina’s rescue and escape. His areas of interest include Irish émigré networks abroad, court studies and the Irish language.


Title: The Irish to the Rescue
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