The Irish to the Rescue

The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape

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

Table Of Content

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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.

I thank the staff of the National Library of Ireland who have always been helpful and courteous during my visits there. I give special thanks to Ms Anne-Marie McInerney, a librarian of Dublin City Library & Archive on Pearse Street in Dublin, who assisted me on an important reference check by telephone.

Finally, I extend sincere thanks to my mother Mrs Patricia Maher who helped to proof-read all of the contributions.

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It has all the elements of a swashbuckling adventure. It is 1719 and all over Europe, from Ireland to Russia, loyal supporters of the House of Stuart (Jacobites) are feverishly engaged in all manner of intrigue and complex conspiracy aimed at restoring their exiled monarch, James Francis Edward Stuart (James III) to the kingdoms of Britain and Ireland. Seeking a bride for his exiled master, an Irish Jacobite officer named Charles Wogan travels incognito throughout central Europe and finally reaches Ohlau, residence of the illustrious Sobieski family. There he meets the beautiful young royal Polish Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska whose father agrees to the match. However, the reigning king of Britain and Ireland, George I, fearing that the marriage will produce a new generation of rival Stuart claimants to the throne, persuades the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI to have the young princess arrested while en route to the Italian states to marry her prince: she is confined against her will in Innsbruck, deep within imperial territory. But then, having obtained the secret approval of both Maria Clementina and her father Prince James Louis, the heroic Jacobite officer, together with his companions, defies logistics and atrocious weather conditions, snatches the princess from her captors and spirits her away on treacherous mountain roads across the Alps to safety in Bologna. The couple are finally united and marry in Montefiascone, north of Rome, in September 1719. Afterwards, the newlyweds take up residence in Rome at the special invitation of Pope Clement XI who recognises them as King and Queen of Great Britain ←1 | 2→and Ireland. In gratitude for saving his goddaughter, the pope offers to bestow the honour of senator of Rome on Wogan who accepts on condition that the same be given to his companions. One of the most celebrated great escape sagas of European history, this has it all: intrigue, rivalry and connivance among royals; secrecy and concealed identities; near tragedy; triumphant heroism; and a happy ending … it seemed.

For the first time, the circumstances surrounding the episode have been the subject of close scrutiny by a range of scholars with expertise in Jacobite history, Irish émigré networks, court studies, material culture, the Habsburg-Hanoverian alliance and the Irish in Habsburg territories, Polish dynastic and political history, and musicology. Their complementary investigations featured in these eight essays lend significant dimensionality to this already fascinating story by framing the interpretation of the dramatised narrative within the cut and thrust of realpolitik in 1719 and the years that followed, thereby making it all the more real and compelling.

Richard Maher recounts in lively detail the dramatic tale in an essay which forms the centrepiece of this collection whose publication marks the tercentenary of the rescue of Princess Maria Clementina. It is to the protagonist, the Irish Jacobite officer, Sir Charles Wogan, that we are indebted for the colourful account of how the Irish came to the rescue of the princess which he recorded in a memoire of his titled Mémoires sur l’enterprise d’Inspruck en 1719 [Memoires of the Innsbruck Adventure of 1719], which he wrote, dedicated and presented to Queen Marie Leszczyńska of France, cousin of Queen Clementina, in Paris on 4 March 1745. By that stage, Queen Clementina had died, as had his companion-kinsmen from Dillon’s Regiment, leaving Wogan as the only person with detailed first-hand knowledge of the whole affair.

For Wogan the affair was a highlight in the distinguished history of the Irish Jacobite brigades. It is fitting, therefore, that this collection opens with an essay focusing on Wogan’s place in Jacobite circles and on the loyalties, networks, machinations and aspirations of Irish Jacobite military exiles in Europe from the 1690s to the late 1740s. Éamonn Ó Ciardha sets the scene for the event in 1719 by situating it in the context of successive failed plots and invasion scares (1692, 1695, 1708, 1715, 1719, 1745 and 1759) in which loyal Irish Jacobites, including Wogan, looked to their exiled king, ←2 | 3→and especially to their exiled aristocracy and gentry serving in the armies of France and Spain, to achieve their own repatriation, restitution of their lands, titles and dignities, and rehabilitation of their proscribed church. Constantly alert to Europe’s numerous dynastic wars and colonial, military and political rivalries, mindful of their possible implications for a Stuart restoration, this burgeoning Irish military diaspora actively participated in abortive Jacobite military campaigns, invasion plots, cross-channel espionage and Irish Brigade recruitment-drives. As Ó Ciardha explains, their frequently fraught activities in the realms of diplomacy, espionage, politics and especially warfare testify to their cultural fluidity, mobility and vulnerability, and highlight the need to balance loyalty to the Stuarts with political and military duty to the Bourbons and Habsburgs. Sir Charles Wogan is presented as ‘rebel’, prisoner, fugitive, agent, diplomat, soldier and statesman – the personification of the loyalty, romance and tenacity that often characterised the Irish Jacobite émigré on a pan-European stage that extended from his native Kildare, through the north of England, to France, the Papal States, the Baltic, Russia, Spain and north Africa. His spectacular intervention to preserve the Stuart royal dynasty in 1719 added lustre to his family’s glowing reputation as loyal supporters of the Stuarts and won him international recognition. Having secured Maria Clementina’s arrival in the Papal States, he became the talk and toast of Europe. Pope Clement XI made him a senator of Rome, while King James III gave him a knighthood, baronetcy, and a colonel’s commission. When viewed within the context of Jacobite history, it becomes clear why Wogan’s audacious rescue confounded Europe and delighted his Jacobite contemporaries, thereby boosting both the Jacobite cause and the illustrious reputation of the fighting Irish abroad.

Complementing Ó Ciardha’s exposition of the Jacobite context, Declan Downey focuses on the villain in the drama, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. The reasons for Charles’ amicable relationship with King George I are effectively elucidated within the wider sphere of contemporary European power-equilibrium politics. This not only resulted in Charles’ detention of Maria Clementina; it also influenced attitudes at the Imperial Habsburg Court towards the Jacobite cause and the nuanced responses among the Irish in the Austrian Habsburg establishment. ←3 | 4→The importance of the timing of this dramatic episode in spring 1719, at a critical point in the War of Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720) when British naval support for Austrian forces in Sicily was vital, is also highlighted.

Narrowing the focus to the Sobieski dynasty, Jaroslaw Pietrzak traces their rise to prominence through military prowess and strategic marriage alliances from their late medieval origins to the end of their noble lineage in the eighteenth century, shedding valuable light upon the family’s pressurised circumstances in the 1710s. Pietrzak paints a bleak picture. The wealth of King Jan III Sobieski was by then a myth, and the family were reduced to pawns in the European political arena. Viewed in the context of highly complicated negotiations around advantageous marriages for Prince Jakub’s daughters, the blow dealt by George I and Charles VI’s opposition to Maria Clementina’s relationship with the Stuart pretender is shown to have compounded the Sobieskis’ difficulties.

While the rescue of Maria Clementina ended happily for the couple and was celebrated by their supporters, what followed was far from a fairy-tale ending for them; the same was true for Sir Charles Wogan. The fascinating if tragic sequel, in which factional intrigues once again intruded upon their lives, is recounted in essays by Richard Maher and Edward Corp.

As Corp explains in his study of Clementina’s life at the Jacobite court in Rome, although the marriage produced two Stuart princes, Charles, Prince of Wales (the future Bonnie Prince Charlie), and Henry, Duke of York (the future Cardinal York), it was, otherwise, a complete failure. Clementina was beautiful, popular and full of enthusiasm when she travelled from Silesia and escaped from Innsbruck to be married in Italy. However, six years after the wedding, she informed her father that throughout that time, she had been neglected and scorned, and had endured a kind of living death. Corp details how her life was ruined by her husband’s three Scottish Protestant favourites and how she ended her days as a recluse within the Palazzo del Rè where she devoted herself almost entirely to her Catholic religion, apparently became anorexic, and died when she was just 33 years old. Particularly fascinating is the analysis of Clementina’s depiction in portraits. Corp compares the first, executed by Francesco Trevisani in the spring of 1719, shortly after her arrival in Rome, in which the 17-year-old princess looks radiantly beautiful and is ←4 | 5→portrayed as the Queen of England, with several others commissioned by James III during the 1720s. He then contrasts these with three from the early 1730s in which she appears thin, wearing her ermine lined blue cloak over a simple dress, her hair combed back into a simple bun. Corp’s discussion of Clementina’s weight loss, and her determination to use her 1727 portrait in which she appears thin, modestly dressed and holding a breviary to publicise how badly she was being treated and to bargain for the dismissal of the three Scottish favourites from the Jacobite court provides a fascinating insight into this young woman’s strategies for demonstrating her agency and protest at her maltreatment.

In his essay on Wogan’s service and exile, Richard Maher explains how following his rescue of Maria Clementina which ought to have been rewarded by new positions of authority, trust and esteem in service to his king at the Jacobite court-in-exile in Rome, Sir Charles Wogan fell from James’ royal favour. A discussion of court intrigue and political rivalries, the paper attempts to illuminate some of the dark corners of the Jacobite court in Rome in 1719. In later years, we are told, Wogan consoled himself with nostalgic thoughts of his ancestral home at Rathcoffey, County Kildare, to which he remained deeply attached during his exile, and with historical examples of when capable and ingenious men were undermined by lesser comrades.

In her essay on political allusions in the music dedicated to James Stuart and Maria Clementina in 1719, musicologist Aneta Markuszewska presents evocative glimpses of the pomp and ceremony attached to the young couple’s marriage at Montefiascone and the general excitement generated by their presence in Rome. Drawing upon contemporary journals, diaries, letters and especially propagandist musical compositions dedicated to the newlyweds, the projection of the image of Maria Stuart as Queen in Rome is analysed. Praised for her beauty, grace, maturity, education and conversational skills in several languages, Maria Clementina apparently made a successful transition to her new status as a public figure. By all accounts, the authorities in Rome did everything in their power to ensure that she was feted officially as ‘Regina di Gran Bretagna’. Organisers of the marriage chose the Carmelite nun and mystic, St Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (1566–1607), as a fitting subject for celebrating the wedding of James ←5 | 6→Stuart, a Catholic whose cause was supported by the Roman Curia, and Maria Clementina, also a devout Catholic. In hindsight, Markuszewska observes, the choice of this saint as the musical centrepiece of their wedding celebrations seems prophetic since Maria Maddalena, from an eminent Florentine family, at the age of 14 entered a monastery, surpassed the sisters in religious fervour and developed symptoms of anorexia and bulimia.

In the final essay, Estelle Gittins brings to light a pair of little-known Jacobite manuscripts bought by a nineteenth-century Irish tourist in Rome and now held in the Library of Trinity College Dublin – a book of devotions that belonged to the last reigning Stuart monarch, James II and the marriage certificate of his son, James III and Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska. As Gittins explains, the certificate communicated the prestige of Britain and Ireland’s legitimate royal house to political supporters across Europe and is a testament to the aspirations and loyal service of thousands of Jacobites, among them the Irish hero of this story Sir Charles Wogan and his companions, who followed the Stuarts into exile and played a vital part in ensuring that the marriage took place.

Mary Ann Lyons

August 2020

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1 Irish Jacobite military exiles in Europe, 1691–1748

‘The Fighting Irish’: History and Memory

Sustained, widespread traffic to Europe has characterised Ireland’s migration experience over 1,500 years. Close links with the Holy See and Europe’s great universities, religious institutions and organisations, the English crown’s extensive continental possessions and a lucrative trade in fish, wine and wool across the Irish Sea and English Channel accounts for much of this early exchange. The Reformation, Counter-Reformation and English Re-Conquest of Ireland (1534–1603) boosted this footfall; furthermore, the three wars which book-ended, bisected and defined seventeenth-century Ireland forced thousands of de-mobbed soldiers and exiled or ruined aristocrats, gentry and husbandmen into the meat-grinder of Europe’s incessant, intensive confessional, dynastic and colonial conflicts. In the decades after the ‘Glorious Revolution’ (1688), thousands of Irish Jacobites (supporters of the exiled House of Stuart) found themselves scattered across Western Europe, where they would play a prominent role in society, including banking, the church, education, trade and, particularly soldiering.1

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This brief reappraisal will discuss some recent developments in early modern Irish military history and historiography and explore issues of identity and ideology through the letters, life-stories, literary relics and memoirs of these exiled Irish Jacobites. It will re-examine something of their lives, social networks and links with their former patrimony, while scrutinising their political, military and cultural milieu, as well as their attitudes towards their exiled king and native patrimony. Furthermore, it will explore how this expatriate community remained in contact with Ireland and functioned as a military, political, diplomatic, and cultural group; how they organised recruitment networks at home and abroad and utilised Catholicism and Jacobitism for their military, political and practical advantage. Finally, it will suggest that Irish clergymen, poets, propagandists, soldiers and smugglers at once played a role in recruiting for Irish regiments in many early modern European theatres, as well as trafficking intelligence between Ireland and her exiles.

Furthermore, the Irish continental colleges, which spanned Western Europe from Iberia to the heart of Bohemia, became the early modern equivalents of embassies and consulates (or indeed Irish bars!); their clerics served as Irish regiment chaplains; they provided spiritual succour to their charges, helped them surmount cultural/language barriers, acted as notaries and witnesses for wills and testaments and looked after their widows and orphans. Recent research has also shown that Irish-born bankers, educators, lawyers and merchants often fulfilled similar roles; their careers, pan-European political, socio-economic and cultural networks tell us much about their place in their host societies.2 After all, the early modern Irish Jacobite military formed only one part of a complex, extensive multi-faceted expatriate population that organised itself in host nations from the Iberian Peninsula to the Russian Steppe. Irish banking, clerical, maritime, mercantile, political and professional communities also serviced the Irish military and their families, looking after the educational, familial, financial and spiritual welfare of their charges and facilitating contact with their native patrimony.

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In this period, Irish soldiers served, staffed and led in armies from Madrid to Moscow, flitting between kingdoms, empires and republics, cultures, ideologies, languages and religions. Like other recruits, they joined for many reasons, some ideological and political, others practical and professional. Irishmen fled confessional, cultural and political persecution; others escaped famine, economic stagnation and the drudgery of a labouring life for adventure and opportunity. Family ties, regional loyalties, tradition and ‘chain military migration’ helped sustain this traffic. These exiles maintained strong cultural and ideological links with their native land; they marched to Irish martial music, carried the insignia of St Patrick, the Virgin Mary, the harp and red hand, and wore the red livery of the exiled Stuarts in the French and Spanish service. Furthermore, their trials, tribulations and triumphs animated their compatriots at home and throughout far-flung Irish communities. Finally, they utilised genealogy, lineage, religion and royalism to facilitate entry into (and promotion within) their chosen service; others found that these sometimes hampered or stifled a promising military or political career.

Leading luminaries and humble cannon-fodder in this service are occasionally rendered in ink, oil, marble or stone, celebrated in funeral orations, obituaries or regimental histories and remembered with various and varying degrees of enthusiasm in the history, literature and pamphlet culture of their adoptive and native countries. History, literature, journalism, art and iconography at once articulate, record and supplement its evolution, re-incarnation and transfer. Biographers, diarists and historians, Irish-language poets, Hiberno-Latin writers and Jacobite authors have both nurtured and recorded the emergence and spread of this distinct, early modern Irish nationalist identity that had loyalty to the Catholic Church and the Stuart dynasty at its core.3 In addition to articulating, celebrating and supplementing its attendant ‘Fighting Irish’ cult, prickly ←9 | 10→Irish writers and commentators, of whom Sir Charles Wogan is one of the most indignant and prolific, took great umbrage at both British slander and French ingratitude. By so doing, they effectively pre-empted a coterie of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century military historians, journalists and writers who lionised this venerable military tradition for their own various cultural and political ends.4 In spite of this coverage, little is often known about the lives and experiences of the ordinary soldier who fought and died in the ranks; no over-arching study has, as yet, explored shared identities and ideologies across all the chronological and geographical expanse of Irish Jacobite military migration; nor has there been an examination of the continuities, links and shared marital traditions of the early modern and modern periods.

This ‘Fighting Irish’ cult, divested of its royalist, Jacobite component by middle of the nineteenth century would flavour the historical and literary writings of Young Irelanders, contemporary novelists and the leading luminaries of Irish military history.5 Despite this, and the soldier’s pivotal position in the Irish pantheon, issues of identity, ideology and popular culture, and particularly a distinct Jacobite identity, ideology and popular culture have been underplayed in recent writings on the early modern Irish diaspora and Irish military history.6 Indeed, one could argue that the story of Irish military migration since the Nine Years War (1594–1603) is ←10 | 11→dominated by the interlocking themes of religion, national identity and martial culture. Historians who have examined early modern Ireland’s military migrants and their exploits have too often focused on buttons, badges, bugles, bayonets, battles, battalions-style regimental histories of the Irish Brigades, or on biographies of those Irishmen who rose to high political and military office.

Associational and socio-cultural aspects of the early modern, expatriate Irish military centre on a strong, distinct Irish Catholic nationalist and royalist identity, the cult of the exiled Stuarts and their native aristocracy and gentry, the cultivation of genealogy, heraldry and the centrality of their relationship to proscribed church and exiled king. Key events in the Jacobite calendar (births, birthdays, deaths and name-days) and associated rites and rituals infuse the recently digitised Stuart Papers at Windsor Castle and could provide useful chronological, methodological and thematic platforms for further research. Finally, Irish generals, colonels-proprietor and recruiters used Jacobitism to enlist kinsmen and compatriots into various European armies, often in conjunction with their diplomatic, political, propagandist and surveillance traffic on behalf of the Stuart monarch.7

Defeat and disillusionment at the Boyne (1690), Aughrim and Limerick (1691) initially dimmed but did not extinguish Irish enthusiasm for the Stuart cause.8 Through the course of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, often in the context of a whole series of Jacobite plots and invasion scares (1692, 1695, 1708, 1715, 1719, 1745 and 1759), Irish Jacobites looked to their exiled king, and particularly to their exiled aristocracy and gentry in the armies of France and Spain, to retrieve their confiscated lands and lost political and socio-economic and cultural status. To that end, they paid careful attention to Europe’s numerous dynastic wars and colonial, military and political rivalries and their possible implications for a Stuart restoration. Thus, these commentators equated the Stuart king’s return with their own repatriation, the restitution of their lands, titles and ←11 | 12→dignities, and the rehabilitation of their proscribed church; in the meantime, they looked to their exiled monarchs for access, alms, references and titles to enable them to fully participate in the often-inaccessible world of ancien régime Europe.

This burgeoning Irish military diaspora, often deemed traitors, rebels and fugitives, or at best military and religious refugees in contemporary Whig writing, continued to play a significant role in European political and cultural life; moreover, they fully participated in abortive Jacobite military campaigns, invasion plots, cross-channel espionage and Irish Brigade recruitment-drives. Although the expatriate Irish military’s relationship with the homeland in the seventeenth century has been the subject of much recent research, their eighteenth-century successors lack a modern, pan-European, interpretative history.9

‘A Little Ireland in the Army of the King of France’

Approximately 19,000 Irish Jacobite soldiers left the country during and after the Jacobite wars (1689–1691), remaining a distinct military entity under King James II until respectively incorporated into the French and Spanish armies after the Treaties of Ryswick (1697) and Utrecht (1713). Arguments have raged over the exact numbers recruited for the French and Spanish service in the half-century after the Treaty of Limerick (1691). In 1729, an indignant Sir Charles Wogan lamented that over 100,000 Irishmen had died in the service of France since the 1690s; elsewhere, his letter to Dr Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Dean of St Patrick’s ←12 | 13→in 1733, claimed that 120,000 had been killed in that service.10 Writing in the early 1760s, the Abbé James MacGeoghegan (1702–1763), who dedicated his Histoire d’Irlande (1758) to the Franco-Irish Brigades, put the figure at 450,000 for the period between 1691 and 1745.11 Richard Hayes, the prolific, twentieth-century Irish military historian pointed out that MacGeoghegan’s figures supposed that all those who served in the Brigades were of Irish origin; Hayes himself arrived at the much more modest figure of 48,000 for the total casualties among the ranks of the Brigades in this period.12 In more recent times, Louis Cullen put forward much smaller figures for Irish recruitment, suggesting a figure of 1,000 per annum for the 1720s and 1730s – not an insignificant number.13

This Irish Jacobite army, and the later Franco-Irish, Spanish-Irish regiments, provided a refuge for those who sought to overturn the revolutionary settlement, flee the Penal Laws or make military careers for themselves on the continent. Prominent Irish Catholic aristocrats and gentry and expatriate Jacobite generals and their descendants,14 effectively retained their position at the head of this ‘Little Ireland’ throughout the first half of the eighteenth century.15 Despite various military and political setbacks, ←13 | 14→this Irish military diaspora remained an integral part of the exiled Jacobite community. Moreover, domestic and European-based Jacobites and their political opponents on both sides of the Irish Sea considered them central to any future Stuart restoration; deeming a landing of Franco-Irish officers to be the essential catalyst for rebellion in Ireland and the latter as an important diversionary theatre in any two-pronged invasion of Southern England and the Scottish Highlands. This provided a topic of frantic correspondence between the exiled Stuart king and his supporters before successive Jacobite invasions and plots.


Recruitment to these Irish regiments remained the most visible manifestation of militant Jacobitism. Irishmen took shipping for the foreign service, invariably ‘for the service of the Pretender’, or ‘James III’ in surviving accounts and depositions.16 As well as resonating with reference to invasions, plots and the machinations of prominent Jacobites on the continent, these depositions uncover extensive and intricate lines of communication between Ireland and her diaspora, via Catholic priests, Irish soldiers, Franco-Irish privateers, Irish ship-owners and merchants. Although invasion and intelligence reports survive from leading figures of the Irish ←14 | 15→Jacobite hierarchy it is more difficult to glean information on the motives, opinions and sentiments of these ordinary Jacobites who took passage for foreign service in Europe.17 However, some contemporary, albeit fragmentary accounts and these numerous recruitment depositions often shed fascinating light on the motives and activities of the ordinary foot-soldiers who took shipping to the continent in the early decades of the eighteenth century. Such depositions are replete with Jacobite political innuendo, references to impending and ongoing European wars. Recruits are assured that they would serve ‘James III’ and ‘root out Protestants’ and the process invariably concludes with a ritual drinking of the Stuart king’s health. Elsewhere, recruits are promised arms, clothes and money on their arrival in France; emphasis is also placed on the covert nature of contemporary conscription.18

These recruiting drives are often linked to communal activity, sporting occasions (hurling/ ‘commoning’ and football), religious services, visits to ‘holy-wells’, oath-swearing and health-drinking; leading actors include farm labourers, poets, priests, publicans, the surviving Jacobite Irish aristocracy and gentry and politically suspect Protestant converts. John Brady’s 1714 deposition also contain explicit data on the Irish Jacobite network, and link recruiting officers with influential continental Jacobites such as the duke of ←15 | 16→Berwick, viscount Galmoy (1652–1740) and [Lieutenant-] General [Arthur] Dillon (1670–1733).19 Brady met a great many young Irish priests, among them one or two out of the neighbourhood of one Philip Gaffney of the parish of Currin [counties Monaghan and Fermanagh] who tried to encourage him to join the French army and anticipated a swift return to their native land.20 He also highlighted other links between France and Ireland, identifying a priest from Cavan who communicated via London through Sir Thomas Sheridan, later one of ‘the seven men of Moidart’ (1684–1746) who landed with ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ at Eriskay in Scotland on 23 July 1745.21 Finally, and crucially, there is a veritable avalanche of memoirs, invasion plots and evidence of seditious traffic.22

Furthermore, a relentless contemporary preoccupation with the Irish Brigades characterised Irish Jacobite literature and Whig letters; links ←16 | 17→between the two continue to be sustained by recruitment. While contemporary recruitment depositions must be treated with caution and are subject to characteristic hyperbole and sensationalism, they do nevertheless provide intriguing, invaluable information on this proscribed trade. The majority of depositions relate to the French and Spanish service, refer to prominent international Jacobite figures and reveal intricate lines of communication between Ireland and centres of émigré-Irish interest, involving Franco-Irish soldiers, clerical agents, Irish ship-owners and merchants. Whig pamphleteers and politicians, for their part used the links between recruits, privateers, rapparees [outlaws] and the greater Catholic populace to claim that they intended to embark on wholesale rebellion. Finally, these depositions often have a surprisingly accurate grasp of Jacobite high-politics. Continual promises of a speedy return to Ireland with the exiled king compliment contemporary evidence of ongoing Jacobite plots and invasion plans, while affidavits placed special emphasis on commissions received directly from the Stuart claimant, the need for taking an oath to serve him and not to reveal the recruiter’s identity. Recruits sought (and received) assurances that they would only serve King James and would return to receive lands and titles. Proceedings invariably concluded with a toast to the exiled king.

‘The Irish Don Quixote’

As ‘rebel’, prisoner, fugitive, agent, diplomat, soldier and statesman, Sir Charles Wogan personified the loyalty, romance and tenacity which often characterised the Irish Jacobite émigré on a pan-European stage which stretched from his native Kildare, through the north of England, to France, the Papal States, the Baltic, Russia, north Africa and Spain. Col. Edward Wogan (c.1625–1654), his kinsman, had saved Charles II after the Battle of Worcester (1652), thereby copper-fastening the impeccable royalist credentials of a family that had served English monarchs in Ireland for 400 years. Sir Charles would himself add lustre to their glowing reputation by intervening spectacularly to preserve the Stuart dynasty.

←17 |

Figure 1.1: Portrait of James III

Antonio David, after Martin van Meytens, King James III, 1725, 73.2 x 61 cm, oil on canvas (Pininski Foundation, Liechtenstein). This portrait, like the companion portrait of Queen Clementina (on the front cover), was painted in 1725 shortly after the birth of Prince Henry, and before Queen Clementina left the court. The original is missing, but it was copied several times by an English painter named E. Gill who had previously been employed in Rome by Lord Richard Howard. Gill’s copies were not good, but fortunately Antonio David was commissioned to make this one in 1730.

Wogan was heavily involved in the planning and launching of the Jacobite insurrection against King George I in northern England in 1715. After its failure and his capture he escaped Newgate gaol in London and returned to James III’s service in France where he again proved himself to be a dynamic and useful servant. He formed part of a diplomatic mission with the 2nd duke of Ormond to forge an alliance between Peter the Great and his old foe King Charles XII of Sweden, a prelude to a proposed Jacobite ←18 | 19→assault on their common enemy King George I.23 An additional objective was to identify a suitable bride for their as yet unmarried master.24 After successfully negotiating the marriage match between James III and Princess Clementina Sobieska a year later, Wogan defied contemporary logistics and the atrocious weather conditions of the Brenner Pass to snatch the heavily guarded princess from under the noses of the imperial authorities after she had been confined at Innsbruck.25 He returned with Clementina to Rome to a hero’s welcome and received honours from both James and Pope Clement XI.26 He then entered the service of Philip V of Spain as a military officer. His audacious rescue confounded Europe and delighted his Jacobite contemporaries, thereby sustaining both the Jacobite cause and enhancing the illustrious reputation of the fighting Irishman abroad.

Over the course of a long, illustrious career, Wogan never wavered in his loyalty to the cause. He regularly corresponded with his exiled king and retained an insatiable appetite for Jacobite plotting. Philip V of Spain later rewarded him with the governorship of La Mancha, an appropriate accolade for one of the most famous knights in Europe. Regular Jacobite plots provided Wogan and other Irish Jacobites such as Lord Orrery, George Kelly, Dennis Kelly, Edmund Bingley, John Plunkett, Francis Glascock, Philip Neynoe, Robert Dillon, Daniel O’Carroll and a host of soldiers, spies, fugitives, double-agents, recruiters with ample scope for intrigue.

Wogan’s observations to the exiled Stuart king on the possibility of an Irish invasion in 1729 re-emphasised the political motivation of the expatriate Irish military establishment and supported the commonly held Irish Jacobite belief that salvation would only come across the sea. Like other Jacobite exiles (Gordon O’Neill, Arthur Dillon, Ambrose O’Callaghan, Sylvester Lloyd and Lord Orrery) Wogan assessed the enemy’s numerical ←19 | 20→strength in Ireland and advocated sending a Franco-Irish expeditionary force, furnished with extra arms and accoutrements, to raise rebellion in Ireland and prevent troops from being sent from Ireland to counter the main attack on England.27 It is significant that he based his musings on the information received from Irish émigrés recently returned from Ireland.28

Figure 1.2: Portrait of Sir Charles Wogan

Circle of Garret Morphy, Portrait of a gentleman [Charles Wogan], c.1700–1710, 74 x 61cm, oil on canvas. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. This is the only known portrait of Sir Charles Wogan. In her book A Wife for the Pretender (1965), Peggy Miller included an image titled ‘Sir Charles Wogan as a young man’ the credit for which reads ‘Artist Unknown. By courtesy of Miss Agnes Tyrrell’. It has not been possible to locate the portrait thus far.

Wogan’s preoccupation with his native land also remained a recurring theme in his regular correspondence with his exiled king; moreover, he ←20 | 21→vented his considerable spleen against France for ‘ill-placed and ill-timed friendship’ with England and lamented ‘the graves of one hundred thousand of our countrymen who died bravely without having been of any use in the cause that banished themselves’ and their huge commitment in the service of a king who had ultimately betrayed their cause.29 Similarly, Henry O’Neill l (1676–1745), the last undisputed chief of the Fews (County Armagh), who later died at Fontenoy (1745), gave precise expression to Jacobite sentiment among the Irish exiles. He highlighted his sufferings and those of his countrymen ‘that have sacrificed all for the royal cause’, and let King James know that ‘there were some of them still in a condition to serve him after an exile of forty years’. He deemed himself to be one ‘of the number and the head of a family that had the good luck to render the king, his father of blessed memory, considerable service during the late wars in Ireland’ and offered him ‘with zeal what I have learned during forty years in a foreign prince’s service’.30 In 1729, the ever dependable Wogan again highlighted Irish resilience, their willingness to avail of any opportunity to throw off their tyrants and the iron grip that the Catholic clergy exerted on their conscience.31 Moreover, he suggested that recent recruiting privileges granted by Britain to the French Army in Ireland could be used to gauge militant Jacobitism, proposing that officers related to the local gentry should be sent with French passports and commissions.32

‘The Irish Don Quixote’ is probably best remembered in Irish history and letters for his voluminous correspondence with Dr Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Dean of St. Patrick’s and author of Gulliver’s Travels (1726). After the publication of Swift’s A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick (1729), Wogan sent Swift ←21 | 22→samples of his English and Latin prose, and enquired as to the feasibility of having them published in Dublin.33 Swift reciprocated with editions of English authors, including Alexander Pope (1688–1744), Thomas Gray (1716–1771) and Edward Young (1683–1765). In subsequent missives to ‘Mentor’, Wogan railed at English injustices and French ingratitude. This correspondence sheds light on his patriotic émigré mentalité and resonates with pride at the achievements of Irishmen abroad; however, it is tempered by his graphic description of the sufferings of the Irish at home and the ingratitude of European states for their sterling service:

Those [Irish] who have chosen a voluntary exile, to get rid of oppression, have given themselves up, with great gaiety of spirit, to the slaughter, in foreign and ungrateful service, to the number of above 120,000 men, within these forty years. The rest, who have been content to stay at home, are reduced to the wretched condition of the Spartan helots. They are under a double slavery. They serve their inhuman lordlings who are the more severe upon them, because they dare not look upon the country as their own; while all together are under the supercilious dominion and jealously of another overruling power. To return to our exiles. Mentor certainly does them that justice which cannot be denied them by any of those nations among whom they have served; but it is seldom or ever allowed them by those who can write or speak English correctly. They have shown a great deal of gallantry in the defence of foreign states and princes, with very little advantage to themselves, but that of being free; and without half the outward marks of distinction they deserved … The only fruit the Irish have reaped by their valour is their extinction; and the general fame which they have lost themselves to accrue for their country. They have the honour of Ireland at heart, while those who actually possess their country were little affected with any other glory than that of England. Upon this account the Irish were parcelled by brigades among the many armies entertained by the French king … The French never gained a victory, to which those handfuls of Irish were not known to have contributed in a singular manner; nor lost a battle, in which they did not preserve, or rather augment their reputation, by carrying off colours and standards from the victorious enemy … The Irish for having been steady to their principals, and not as cunning knaves as the two neighbouring nations, have groaned, during the last two centuries, under all the weight of injustice, calumny ←22 | 23→and tyranny, of which there is no example, in equal circumstances, to be shewn in any history of the universe.34

He also expressed characteristically forthright views on Irish history and how it had been written by Englishmen, particularly the earl of Clarendon (1609–1674) and those ‘mongrel’ (Irish) historians from Richard Stanihurst (1547–1615) to William King, Archbishop of Dublin (1650–1729). His missive echoed Seathrún Céitinn/Geoffrey Keating (c.1596–1644), John Lynch (1599?–1677?) and the Abbé Mac Geoghegan in refuting the calumnies levelled against them. Finally, he blames endemic warfare, disunity and the proscription of Catholic schools for Ireland’s inability to defend herself against her detractors:

All this calumny has been sounded into the ears of all Europe by their enemies, both foreign and domestic; and thereby gained credit, more or less, on account of not having been sufficiently controverted or refuted in time. Their constant misfortunes have given a sort of sanction to all this imposture and iniquity. They could not defend themselves in the midst of so much division at home, from so many powerful and confederated enemies. In the meantime, they were involved in too much war, or in too much misery, to be the relaters of their own story with any advantage; or found the English language as backward as the English nation and government, to do them common justice. Their enemies have spared them the labour with a vengeance. The mongrel historians of the birth of Ireland, from Stanihurst and Dr. King down to the most wretched scribbler, cannot afford them a good word in order to curry favour with England. … In the meantime, it is impossible for an upright and good-natured spirit not to look with concern upon the inhuman slavery of the poor in Ireland. Since they have neither liberty nor schools allowed them; since their clergy, generally speaking, can have no learning but what they scramble for, through the extremities of cold and hunger, in the dirt and egotism of foreign universities; since all together are under the perpetual dread of persecution, and have no security for the enjoyment of their lives or their religion. … In this uncouth attitude the Irishman must, in his own defence, and that of his whole country, be braver, and more nice in regard of his reputation, than it is necessary for any other man to be. All that he gets generally for his pains, is the character of having behaved ←23 | 24→as might be expected from an Irishman; yet if there be any crime or mistake in his conduct, not only he, but his whole country, is sure to pay for it.35

Swift finally managed to ascertain the identity of his anonymous correspondent and urged him to seek a publisher in London; possibly with a view to keeping this high-profile, attainted Jacobite at arm’s length. He also sent him two editions of his own works, one of which the chevalier immediately dispatched to the Stuart king in Rome. In what amounted to a ‘treasonable’ reply to Wogan’s missive, Swift commented:

Although I have no great regard for your trade, from the judgement I make of those who profess it in these kingdoms, yet I cannot but highly esteem those gentlemen of Ireland, who with all the disadvantages of being exiles and strangers, have been able to distinguish themselves by their valour and conduct in so many parts of Europe, I think above all other nations; which ought to make the English ashamed of the reproaches they cast on the ignorance, the dullness, and the want of courage, in the Irish natives; those defects, whenever they happen, arising only from the poverty and slavery they suffer from their inhuman neighbours, and the base, corrupt spirits of too many of their chief gentry ….36

In 1745, the redoubtable Wogan once again spear-headed Jacobite attempts to induce the Spanish court to provide the necessary funds and arms to supply the beleaguered Charles Edward in Scotland. As part of this campaign, he published his Mémoirs sur l’enterprise d’Innsbruck (1745), which he dedicated to Marie Leszczyńska, the Polish-born Queen of France, and a relative of the late Stuart queen. He later joined Henry, duke of York (1725–1807), King James’ younger son, at Arras in the hope of repairing to Scotland.37 As part of this campaign, he also sent King James a list of Irish officers in both Italy and Oran (a port city in ←24 | 25→north-west Algeria, a possession of Spain at the time) who would join the prince in Scotland. His characteristically upbeat letter to King James re-iterated his exile sentiments and his hopes for the restoration of his king and a return to his native land.38 Revelling in Charles Edward’s success in Scotland, he minded his stoical monarch of the prospect of a restoration to their respective birthrights ‘and the satisfaction of seeing each other at home after so tedious and irksome a banishment’.39 However, the optimistic Wogan would experience the agonised frustration of many Irish Jacobites in both France and Spain at the apparent unwillingness of the Bourbon kings Louis XV and Philip V to fully support the ‘Forty-Five’; his disdain for French duplicity echoed his criticisms to Swift in the 1730s.

At this time, Sir Felix O’Neill (c.1720–1792) of the Fews, County Armagh, later instrumental in Charles Edward’s flight to Skye and immortalised in verse by the Ulster poet Art Mac Cumhaigh (c.1715–1773), declared a willingness to sacrifice himself in imitation of his ancestors; he emphasised his potential usefulness in Ireland.40 Owen O’Sullivan, another of the Wild Geese, wished that he had wings to follow his prince.41 However, hard currency provided the main reason why many of these loyal, Spanish-based Irish Jacobites failed to assemble under the unfurled Stuart standard at Glenfinnan:

You remark very well the difficulty for many of them to quit at present the employments they are in, but the other reason you hint one still stronger, besides very few of them are in a condition to make that journey if the court of Spain does not order a supply for them at the same time if it grants leave for absenting themselves, and even then ‘tis not everyone who would be willing to go should he be sent.42

←25 | 26→

The prince’s exploits in Scotland animated the Irish exiles, strengthening their belief that the European political situation augured well for his affairs.43 Having commended Charles Edward for his heroic endeavours to deliver ‘His Majesty’s [King James’] subjects from tyranny and usurpation’, an un-named member of the O’Hanlon family alluded to the Irish exiles’ hidden agenda. Attached to the French army ‘whom we have followed in some expeditions’, he informed James Edgar, King James’ secretary that they were ‘ever seeking a proper opportunity to push into Great Britain and join His Majesty’s forces’.44 Dominic Heguerty, a leading Paris-based Freemason and Jacobite agent, also promoted a Spanish-sponsored invasion of Ireland. He conferred with senior members of the French ministry including Le Comte de Maurepas, Le Comte D’Argenson and Orry, who desired that ‘he would give them thoughts on the manner of conveying three Brigades to England’. Heguerty assured James ‘that Your Majesty may depend on a considerable diversion in Ireland on the Spanish side’.45

As late as the 1750s, influential French-based Irish Jacobites, such as Myles MacDonnell and General Charles Edward Rothe (fl. 1733–1766), the illustrious veteran of the Irish Brigades, remained confident of an improvement in Jacobite fortunes.46 Similarly, Thomas Arthur Lally, Governor of Bologna (1709–1766), whose military prowess had been proven on the fields of Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745) and at the walls of Bergen-op-Zoom (1746), believed that Charles Edward remained a powerful trump-card for France. He advocated sending a diversionary force of 8–10, 000 men to Ireland or Scotland and shared Charles Edward’s optimism that ←26 | 27→King George II’s ailing condition and the weakness of Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–1751), George’s heir, augured well for the Jacobite cause.47 Similarly, with the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War (1754–1763), prominent Irish exiles expressed confidence in the success of a French landing in Britain and again advocated a diversionary expedition to Ireland. However, the decline of the Irish interest in French military and political life, the death of influential Jacobites such as Lord Clare (d.1761) and Thomas Arthur Lally, the decline and death of James III (1766) and the subsequent descent of his son into alcoholism, scandal and ‘apostasy’, severed the links between the Stuart king and the Irish Brigades.48


Jacobitism provided the Irish diaspora with a meta-narrative through which they interpreted their own exile and the persecution of their Ireland-based peers. Moreover, their surviving historical and literary relics provide a fascinating insight into the complex, interconnected struggles between Irish Catholicism and Protestantism, Hanoverian and Stuart royalism and Franco-British imperialism. The activities of these Irish Jacobite exiles in the realms of diplomacy, espionage, politics and especially warfare provide a fitting testimony to their cultural fluidity, mobility and vulnerability. Their often fraught, diplomatic, military and political travails shed valuable light on the vagaries of exile, and the need to balance loyalty to the Stuarts with political and military duty to the Bourbons and Habsburgs. Their correspondence, memoirs and musings reveal a vibrant political ideology and culture that ebbed and flowed with the vicissitudes of Irish, British and European politics. Moreover, ←27 | 28→they show how they themselves flourished or floundered in early modern Europe, how they interpreted their own exile and the persecution of their Ireland-based, Jacobite peers and how they viewed Ireland’s role in Jacobite and European geopolitics.

Recruitment to the Irish regiments provided the crucial, tangible link between the two sections of the Irish political nation; thus, it is no surprise that the Whig authorities habitually fingered key members of the surviving Irish Catholic aristocracy and gentry, prominent Protestant converts, unregistered Catholic priests, smugglers and privateers for their involvement therein. Recruitment reports, invariably for the service of ‘the Pretender’ or ‘James III’, highlight commissions received for the Stuart king and the promise the prospective recruits that they would only serve his cause. They contain precise information on impending Jacobite invasions and vivid detail on important Jacobite exiles.

In addition to their clandestine role in recruitment, Catholic clergymen come Jacobite agents trafficked between Ireland and her exiles. Furthermore, soldiers remained in regular contact with the expatriate clerical brethren of their native diocese, they contributed to their upkeep, entrusted them with the care of their widows and children and provided for the education of the impoverished clergy of their own families, native parishes, baronies or diocese. In return, the colleges took care of the spiritual needs of their secular brethren, supplied chaplains to the Brigades and acted as useful ports of call for the newly arrived, un-initiated Irish.

This expatriate Irish Jacobite military community left an indelible mark on the politics, political culture, literature and history of eighteenth-century Ireland and Europe. In conjunction with their service to temporal and spiritual masters on the continent, they retained a strong, sentimental allegiance to their native land; links which influenced the elaboration, maintenance and survival of Jacobite ideology. During wars and invasion plots, the exiles vigorously lobbied for, with and on behalf of the exiled Stuarts; in periods of political inactivity, they commented on European politics, sought pensions, titles, preferment and continually dwelt on their exile and the persecution of the indigenous Irish. The Stuart king reciprocated this contact with the Irish military émigrés by repeatedly turning to Irish generals, colonel-proprietors, priests and religious to obtain favour for his loyal subjects. Émigré rhetoric bristled with Irish Jacobite self-righteousness and their persecution mentality. They boasted their willingness to ←28 | 29→serve the cause and return to their native lands and possessions. These declarations should not be dismissed as hollow rhetoric because many of the most influential Irish exiles kept themselves informed on the strength of the Whig garrison and they regularly and forcefully advocated an invasion of Ireland during the first half of the eighteenth century.


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←29 |

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←30 |

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←31 |

1 See generally, Daniel Szechi, The Jacobites. Britain and Europe, 1688–1788, (Manchester, 1994).

2 Cathaldus Giblin, ed., Catalogue of Material of Irish Interest in the Nunziatura di Fiandra’, in Collectanae Hibernica, Vols i-ix, (1960–1968).

3 See Éamonn Ó Ciardha, ‘Irish-language sources for the history of early modern Ireland’, in Alvin Jackson, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Irish History, (Oxford, 2014), 439–462; Mícheál Mac Craith, ‘From the Elizabethan Settlement to the Battle of the Boyne: Literature in Irish, c. 1550–1690’, in Margaret Kelleher and Peter O’Leary, eds, The Cambridge History of Irish Literature, 2 vols, Vol. 1, (Cambridge, 2006), 74–139.

4 John Curry (d.1780), Thomas Francis Meagher (1823–1867), John Mitchel (1815–1875), John Cornelius O’Callaghan (1805–1883), William Hartpole Lecky (1838–1903), Richard Hayes (1878–1958), William Corby (1833–1897) and the Rev James B. Sheeran CSSR (1819–1881).

5 Thomas Davis (1814–1845), Thomas Francis Meagher (1823–1867), Thomas D’Arcy Magee (1825–1868), A. M. Sullivan (1830–1884), T. D. Sullivan (1827–1914), Emily Lawless (1845–1913) Matthew O’Conor (1773–1844), J. C. O’Callaghan (1805–1883), Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (1859–1930) and William Butler Yeats (1859–1939).

6 For example, Thomas O’Connor, The Irish in Europe, 1580–1815, (Dublin, 2001); Thomas O’Connor and Marian Lyons, eds, Irish migrants in Europe after Kinsale, 1602–1820, (Dublin, 2003); Thomas O’Connor and Marian Lyons eds, Strangers to citizens; the Irish in Europe, 1600–1800, (Dublin, 2008). Morley rightly points out that Irish history is still obsessed with the Protestant Ascendancy and wholly dependent on English-language sources; Vincent Morley, The popular mind in eighteenth-century Ireland, (Cork, 2017), 1–14.

7 Micheline Walsh, ‘From Overseas archives’, in The Irish sword, Vol. iii, (winter 1958), 268–270.

8 Breandán Ó Buachalla, Aisling Ghéar: na Stíobhartaigh agus an t-aos léinn, 1603–1788, (Dublin, 1996); idem, The crown of Ireland, (Galway, 2006), passim; Ó Ciardha, Ireland and the Jacobite cause, passim.

9 Gráinne Henry, The Irish military community in Spanish Flanders, 1586–1621, (Dublin, 1992), passim; Robert A. Stradling, Spanish monarchy and Irish mercenaries, (Dublin, 1994), passim; Ó Buachalla and John McGurk also make the same point; Breandán Ó Buachalla, Aisling Ghéar, 432; John McGurk, ‘ “Wild Geese”: the Irish in European armies (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries)’, in Patrick O’Sullivan, ed., The Irish worldwide, identity and patterns of migration, (London, 1992), 36.

10 Éamonn Ó Ciardha, ‘Jacobite Jail-breakers, Jail-birds: The Irish fugitive and prisoner in the Early Modern Period’, in Immigrants and Minorities, Vol. 32, No. 1, (2014), 9–37.

11 Ó Ciardha, Ireland and the Jacobite cause, 32–33.

12 Richard Hayes, ‘Irish Casualties in the French military service’, in The Irish Sword, Vol. i, No. 3, (1949–1953), 198–201.

13 See, for example, Louis M. Cullen, ‘The Irish Diaspora of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’, in Nicholas Canny, ed., Europeans on the move: studies in European migration, (Oxford, 1994), 121, 124–125, 139–140; Harman Murtagh, ‘Irish soldiers abroad, 1600–1800’, in Tom Bartlett and Keith Jeffreys, eds, A military history of Ireland, (Cambridge, 1996), 294–315; Ó Buachalla, Aisling Ghéar, 213–214, 336–337.

14 E.g. Patrick Sarsfield, 1st earl of Lucan, d.1693; Justin MacCarthy, 1st viscount Mountcashel, d.1694; Lieutenant-General Arthur Dillon, 1670–1733; Daniel O’Brien, 4th viscount Clare, d.1693; Andrew Lee, 1650–1734; Donnogh Mc Carthy, 4th earl of Clancarthy, 1668–1734 and Colonel Gordon O’Neill, fl. 1650–1704.

15 See Nicholas Plunkett, ‘A Light to the Blind’, (N.L.I., MS 477, fol. 743); idem, ‘Deserters of their country, the cause of its ruin’ (N.L.I., MS 477, folio 9); idem, ‘To his Most Christian Majesty: the most humble petition of the Irish abroad in behalf of themselves and of their compatriots at home’ (N.L.I., MS 477, p. 1); idem, ‘A state of the nation’ (Bodl., Carte MS 229, fol. 70); idem, ‘A light to the blind’ (Bodl., Carte MS 229, fols 454–455); Owen O’Malley, ‘Captain Charles O’Malley to Teige, c. 1692’, in Owen O’Malley, ed., ‘O’Malleys between 1651–1715’, in Galway Historical and Archaeological Society Journal, Vol. xxv, (1952), 32–46; Ó Buachalla, Aisling Ghéar, 188; Maurice Hennessy, The Wild Geese, (London, 1973), 51, quoted in Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac, ‘La première generation’, EPHE Doctoral Thesis, (Paris, 1995), 380, 382.

16 Breandán Ó Buachalla, ‘Irish Jacobitism in official documents’, in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Vol. viii, (1993), 128–138; idem, Aisling Ghéar, 334–395; Ó Ciardha, Ireland and the Jacobite cause, chapters 3, 4, 5.

17 See Genet-Rouffiac, ‘La Première generation’, 142–146, 237; Lord Fingall was in contact with St Germain via one ‘Mr. White’, July–August 1713; (Bodl., Carte MS 211, fols 140, 148); N.L.I., Fingall private collection, no. 6; R.A., MS 195, fol. 53; MS 212, fol. 145; ‘Mémoire à la Reine d’Angleterre par le Père Ambrose O’Connor, provincial des Dominicans Irlandois’, (Archives Nationalès, Fonds Guerre, MS A1 2089, fol. 182, N.L.I., MF. n. 415, p. 184) [hereafter A. N., Fonds Guerre]; Marcus de la Poer Beresford, ‘Ireland in the French strategy, 1691–1789’ (M.Litt., T.C.D., 1975), 53–56.

18 Information from Nantes, 16 August 1710 (N.A./P.R.O., S.P., 63/366/122); Proclamation, Shrewsbury and Council, 2 February 1714 (University Library, Cambridge, Hib.0.713.12); Dublin Gazette, 6 February 1714; ‘Examination of William Lehy, Three-mile Bridge, County Waterford’, 26 January 1714 (N.A./P.R.O., S.P., 63/370/219, 222); T.C.D., MS 2022, fols 105–106. One Plunkett was convicted at the assizes in Maryborough in November 1714 for trying to seduce people to serve ‘James III’, in John Brady, ed., Catholics and Catholicism in the eighteenth-century press, (Maynooth, 1965), 111, 311; Ó Buachalla, ‘Irish Jacobitism in official documents’, 128.

19 ‘Extract of a letter written by John Brady’, Dublin, 8 February 1714 (P.R.O., S.P. 63/370/169). See also T.C.D., MS 2022, fol. 227. Brady’s name is also associated with plotting in England in the 1690s; P. Melvin, ‘Irish soldiers and plotters in Williamite England’, in Irish Sword, Vol. viii, No. 52, (1979), 276. Generally, see Ó Buachalla, ‘Irish Jacobitism in official documents’; idem, Aisling Ghéar, passim.

20 ‘Extract of a letter written by John Brady, dated Dublin’, 8 February1714 (N.A./P.R.O., S.P. 63/370/169).

21 Ibid. Also see T.C.D., MS 2022, fol. 227. J. Edgar Bruns, ‘The early life of Sir Thomas Sheridan (1684–1746)’, in Irish Sword, Vol. ii, (1954–1956), 256–259. For other contemporary, seditious traffic; see ‘By the grand jury of the county of Dublin’, 15 June 1713 (N.A./P.R.O., S.P., 63/369/175); Dublin Gazette, 26–30 May 1713; (U.L., Cambs., Hib.O.713, fol. 43); (U.L., Cambs., Hib.O.714. fol. 1); Nathaniel Hooke, The secret history of Colonel Hooke’s negotiations in Scotland, in favour of the pretender, in 1707, (London, 1760), 110, 193, 209; ‘Mémoir au sujet de l’entreprise sur l’Irlande’ (B.N., Fonds Français., vol. 7487, fol. 171, N.L.I., MF, 102); Marcus de la Poer Beresford, ‘Ireland in the French strategy, 1691–1789’ (M.Litt., T.C.D., 1975), 20–23.

22 Hooke, Secret history, 5, 193; ‘Memoir on the means of affecting a rising in Ireland’ [c.1703–1707] (B.L., Add. Ms 20, 311, fol. 68); ‘Invasion plan’, July 1709 (B.N., Fonds Français, 7488 fol. 228, N.L.I., mf. p. 102); Beresford ‘Ireland’, 20–22; A Memorial to the Marquis de Torcy’, of 29 August 1710, in James Macpherson, ed., Original papers: containing the secret history of Great Britain from the Restoration to the accession of the house of Hanover, 2 vols, Vol. ii, (London, 1775), 165–166; ‘Memoir au sujet de l’Enterprise sur l’Irlande’ [c. 1706–1708] (B.N. Fonds Francais, 7487, fols 171, 173, N.L.I., MF, 102).

23 Niall MacKenzie, Charles XII of Sweden and the Jacobites, (London, 2002), 52. See also Rebecca Wills, The Jacobites and Russia, 1715–50, 57.

24 One possible candidate was Anna, duchess of Courland, later Tsarina Anna of Russia (1693–1740); however, Russia had had its share of pretenders and false Dimitris, Ivans and Peters.

25 See chapter 3.

26 For further discussion of Wogan’s activities during this period, see chapter 4.

27 Wogan to James III, 10 May 1729, (R.A., MS 127, fol. 152).

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid. See also (R.A., MS 112, fol. 102); Joseph Flood, The life of the Chevalier Wogan, (Dublin, 1922), 135–136, 141–142.

30 Henry O’Neill to Dr Cosen, 29 June 1731 (R.A., MS 146, fol. 108). See also (R.A., MS 130, fol. 167); (R.A., MS 146, fol. 107); (R.A., MS 188, fol. 197); (R.A., MS 191, fol. 20); (R.A., MS 200, fol. 112); Patrick Fagan, ed., Ireland in the Stuart Papers, 2 vols, Vol. i, 314.

31 Wogan to James III, 10 May 1729 (R.A., MS 127, fol. 152).

32 Ibid.

33 Wogan to Swift, 7 February 1732/3, in The Works of the Reverend Dr Jonathan Swift,… In Nineteen Volumes, Vol. xix, 69–112; Swift to Sir Charles Wogan, September–October 1732, in Works of Dr Swift, xviii, 95–100.

34 Wogan to Swift, 7 February 1732/3, in Works of Dr J. Swift, 70–75.

35 Ibid., 80–87. See also Éamonn Ó Ciardha, ‘Irish-language sources for the history of early modern Ireland’, in Alvin Jackson, ed., The Oxford handbook of modern Irish history, (Oxford, 2014), 439–462.

36 Swift to Sir Charles Wogan, September-October. 1732, in Works of the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Swift, Vol. xviii, 95–100.

37 Henrietta, Tayler, Jacobite Epilogue: a further selection of letters from Jacobites among the Stuart papers at Windsor published by the gracious permission of his Majesty the King, (London, 1941), 322.

38 Wogan to James III, 5 July 1745, (R.A., MS 269, fol. 49).

39 Wogan to James III, 5 October 1745 (R.A., MS 269, fol. 49).

40 Felix O’ Neill to James Edgar, 26 August 1745 (R.A., MS 267, fol. 67). See also (R.A., MS 267, fol. 166; MS 267, fol. 67; MS 279, fol. 72; MS 286, fol. 169); Ascanius or the young adventurer. A true story, (London, 1747), 106–116. See Tomás Ó Fiaich, ‘The O’Neills of the Fews’, in Seanchas Ardmhacha, Vol. vii, (1973), 1–65; Vol. vii, (1974), 263–315; Vol. viii, (1977), 386–413.

41 Owen O’Sullivan to James Edgar, 27 August 1745, (R.A., MS 267, fol. 69).

42 William Lacy to Edgar, 2 September 1745, (R.A., MS 267, fol. 111).

43 See J. McDonnell to James Edgar, 30 September 1745 (R.A., MS 267, fols 101). See also (R.A., 267, fols 150, 156; MS 268, fol. 72). See Frank McLynn, France and Jacobite rising of 1745, 81.

44 O’Hanlon to Edgar, 8 September 1745, (R.A., MS 267, fol. 157). See also (R.A., MS 267, fol. 183).

45 Dominic Heguerty to James III, 14 September 1745 (R.A., MS 268, fol. 17); Frank McLynn, France and Jacobite rising of 1745, 55, 67, 76, 82, 176, 186–196, 214; idem, ‘Ireland and the Jacobite rising of 1745’, in Irish Sword, Vol. xiii, (1977–1979), 345–347.

46 Myles McDonnell to [Edgar], Corunna, 27 December 1755 (R.A., MS 360, fol. 100). See also R.A., MS 360, fol. 162; Beresford, ‘Ireland’, 197.

47 Thomas Arthur Lally to Prince Charles Edward, 18 May 1756 (R.A 362, fol. 146); Beresford, ‘Ireland in the French Strategy’, 192; Hayes, Irish swordsmen in France, 223–247; Ruvigny, Marquis de, Jacobite Peerage, (Edinburgh, 1904), 119–120.

48 William Griffin, The Irish on the continent in the eighteenth century, (Wisconsin, 1979), 465.

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2 The Sobieskis: A Polish royal family in the history of Europe

The genealogical legend of the Sobieski family, developed in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries during the reign of Jan III Sobieski, claimed that the progenitor of the family was Lestek, so-called the Goldsmith, who led the Lechites against the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great.1 Lestek, guided by cunning and intelligence, made golden shields, which were positioned by him and his soldiers in such a way so that they reflected the sun’s rays, which in turn blinded the enemy. For his deed and bravery, a simple craftsman was rewarded with the royal crown. Other versions claimed that the mythical creator of the Sobieski dynasty was a knight, ‘Janik’, fighting in the ranks of Prince Leszek called ‘the Black’ against the Yajvings. During the fight, Janik lost his weapon and was exposed to the enemy’s attack. St Michał Archangel came to Janik’s rescue. The voivode (prince) of the heavenly hosts gave him his shield, thanks to which not only did he save his life, but also the prince’s. In exchange for being of help to the prince, Janik received the coat of arms and the hand of Prince Leszek’s niece, thereby becoming related to the Piast dynasty. Wojciech Stanisław Chrościński, the chief literary celebrant of the deeds of Jan III Sobieski, went even further, creating an ←33 | 34→imaginary picture of the unions linking the legendary ancestors of King Sobieski with representatives of foreign ruling houses. Published in 1717, this was undoubtedly an expression of aspiration of the already deceased Jan III. A ruler from the nobility, chosen by nobles, to link his family with European monarchs, to whom the crown was passed through inherited succession.2 This essay will examine the rise to prominence of the Sobieskis through military prowess and advantageous marriage alliances from their late medieval origins to the end of their noble lineage in the eighteenth century.

The beginnings of the Sobieski family were in fact less dramatic than it was described in legend. The first member of the family entitled ‘de Sobieszyn’, as confirmed by source, was Mikołaj (Nicholas) the heir on Radoryż, Ulęż and Lend in Sandomierskie Voievodship. He died about 1480 and was mentioned in the ‘Liber Beneficiorum’ of the diocese of Cracow (Krakow) by Jan Długosz. Later, the Sobieski family moved to the Lubelskie Voievodship. Five children were born to Mikołaj (Nicholas) and Małgorzata (Margaret) Krzynicka: Sebastian, Mikołaj (Nicholas), Valentin, Zbigniew and Ursula. Sebastian Sobieski, who lived in the years 1486–1557, initiated the royal line of the family. The other brothers gave birth to the noble branches of the family. In 1516 Sebastian (I) married Barbara Gielczewska. The sons of Sebastian I were: Mikołaj (Nicholas), who died heirless in 1539; Stanislaw (I), the husband of Katarzyna (Catharine) Olesnicka; and Jan, the husband of Katarzyna (Catharine) Gdeszynska. The key figure here is Jan Sobieski, who started his military career on campaign in Ruthenia. In 1537, he was promoted to the standard-bearing cavalry unit of Stanislaw Myszkowski, Voivode of Cracow. He conducted numerous expeditions against the Tatars in 1539 and 1542. The campaign in 1542 was one of most spectacular, when Sobieski attacked the Crimean Tatar strongholds of Oczakov and Balaklava. He devoted the rest of his life, from 1552 to around 1566, to military engagements in Moldova. Importantly, together with his brother Stanislaw and father Sebastian, he participated in the ←34 | 35→Calvinist synod in Bychawa in 1560, which means that the Sobieski family was one of the followers of the Reformed faith. Jan left three sons: Marek (Mark), Mikołaj (Nicholas) and Sebastian.3

Among the offspring of Jan and Katarzyna (Catherina) Gdeszynska was Marek (Mark) Sobieski. He became a royal courtier and was well known for his political and military abilities. In 1577 during the Battle of Tczew at Lake Lubieszowski he became famous for his daring courage and physical strength. His fame was cemented by the war with Moscow over Livonia. King Stefan (Stephen) Batory, in recognition of his bravery, in August 1581, gave him the title of Court Standard-Bearer. Many factors contributed to Sobieski’s promotion to the political elite of the country. The first determinant was undoubtedly the close relationship with the Chancellor and the Grand Crown Hetman − Jan Zamoyski, which dates back to 1579. During the interregnum after the death of King Stefan in 1586, probably under the influence of Zamoyski, Sobieski supported the candidacy of Zygmunt (Sigmund) Waza, against the candidacy of Archduke Maximilian Habsburg, the brother of Emperor Rudolf II. Sobieski even commanded the charge of hussars at the Battle of Byczyna, which led to the destruction of the Archduke’s troops. After the victory and solemn coronation of Zygmunt in Cracow, Marek Sobieski was the overseer of captives taken by Zamoyski – including Archduke Maximilian and his supporters – at Krasnystaw, until 1589. At the court of Zamoyski, Sobieski performed various functions including the administration of his estates and as tribunal court plenipotentiary. The continuous and direct contact between Zamoyski and Sobieski led to Sobieski being recognised not only as a noble client, but also as a political supporter and legate, an active military commander, an advisor and a friend of the chancellor. Thus, Zamoyski’s support and protection ensured Marek Sobieski’s promotion.4

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Marek first rose to political influence at the level of the Lublin diet (legislative assembly). He was elected three times as a deputy in 1592, 1593 and 1596. Undoubtedly, the patronage of Jan Zamoyski influenced Marek’s career. In 1596 Marek was granted the office of castellan of Lublin and a year later he was nominated to the Lublin voivode (principality). Marek’s strategic marriage alliances and family affinities opened the road leading to the upper echelons of elite status for the Sobieski family. His first wife, Jadwiga (Hedwig) Snopkowska, daughter of the Przemyśl castellan Stefan (Stephen) Snopkowski, ensured her husband valuable connections with powerful families – Herburt, Fredro and Firlej. His second wife, Katarzyna (Catherina) Teczynska, whom he married in about 1600, belonged to the broadly branched magnate and senatorial family, boasting the title of count earned from the Emperor in 1527. In addition to family connections with the great princes of the Zbaraski, Olelkowicz-Słucki and Radziwiłł, she dowered him with extensive estates in Małopolska.5 However, Marek’s greatest financial achievement at this time entails the purchase of the title to the lands from Złoczów in Red Ruthenia in 1598. Apart from Złoczów (town and castle), they comprised from 40 to 60 villages. These were the beginnings of the latifundium,6 bringing important profits from the sale of grain and wood to the Sobieski family. This, in turn, allowed Marek to be politically independent. The grandfather of King Jan III, which should be emphasised, appeared in Ruthenia as a new host, not connected with the local nobility, which guaranteed him relative independence.7

The first marriage of Marek Sobieski, contrary to the second one, resulted in numerous offspring: five daughters and a son – Jakub (James), the future father of the king. His first daughter, Zofia (Sophia), married ←36 | 37→voivode Jan Wodynski. The second, Aleksandra Marianna, was the wife of the Great Marshal of Lithuania Krzysztof (Christopher) Wiesiolowski. The third of the sisters, Katarzyna (Catherine), married the voivode of Leczyca, Stanislaw Radziejowski, and was the grandmother of the Primate − Michał Stefan Radziejowski. The next one, Gryzelda married the voivode of Dorpat Dadźbog (Deodatus) Karnkowski, and after his death the starosta (magistrate) of Odolanowo Jan Rozdrażewski. Last − Anna joined the monastery of Saint Bridget in Lublin in 1610, but died as prioress in Grodno in 1646. It seems that Sobieski was conducting a well-thought-out marriage policy, building the power of the family based on the unions of his daughters with high-born bachelors, occupying senate and dignitary offices. It was at this time that Marek Sobieski converted to Roman Catholicism due to its resilience in the region. A possible reason for his conversion could relate to his entry to the senate, where the alliance of the ruling class with the Catholic Church was established. This change was likely also influenced by the lack of a strong leadership in the reformation camp, the withering of the ideology of the movement, and related disputes in the bosom of Protestantism. Thus, Marek Sobieski became the first magnate in the family.8

After the death of Marek in 1605, his eldest son, Jakub, became the head of the family. Born in 1591 he became one of the most important figures on the political scene of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and completed his father’s work on strengthening the position of the family as well as consolidating its position at magnate status. Preparing him for this role, his father sent him to study first at the Zamość Academy, and then at the Cracow Academy. The rest of his education was completed during a journey through Europe spanning the years 1607–1613. He spent time in the Reich (Holy Roman Empire), France, the Netherlands, England, Spain, Portugal and the Italian states. Education gained in this way allowed him to appear on the forum of the political life of his various host ←37 | 38→countries, either in diplomatic negotiations, or as an orator at private ceremonies.9 In October 1624, Jakub received from Zygmunt III the title of starosta (mayor) of the Trembowla, and later of Krasnystaw. In 1628, he received titular crown prowess, which had binding significance only at the royal court. These titles and offices, though certainly prestigious, in fact placed Jakub quite low in the hierarchy of officials of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Rzeczpospolita.10 A more serious promotion took place during the reign of Władysław (Vladislav) IV. In 1633 Jakub was made the starosta of Jaworow, and five years later the voivod of Belz, which was associated with the senatorial rank. This distinction was bestowed, not only for the need to express gratitude for Jakub’s efficient management of the parliamentary chamber, but also because Władysław IV wanted to win support from key members of the nobility. Similarly, Władysław IV’s gift of the office of the voivode of Ruthenia to Jakub in 1641 can be interpreted in the same way. He was promoted in 1646 as a castellan of Cracow, the highest ranking civil senator.11

His foreign education, covering not only schooling, traveling and visiting interesting places, but also getting to know life and people in other countries and foreign courts, resulted in great knowledge and experience. Jakub mastered several languages including Latin, Greek, German, Italian, French and Turkish and was often invited to participate in diplomatic talks, for example, with Russia in 1618, with Turkey in 1621 and with Sweden in 1628 and 1635. Jakub was also the author of several memoirs, including ‘Peregrination in Europe’ (1607–1613) and ‘Road to Baden’ (1638), ‘Diary of the Moscow expedition from 1617–1618’, ‘Diary of the ←38 | 39→Chocim expedition in 1621’ and ‘Diary of intercession and the coronation of Władysław (Vladislav) IV from 1633’. Sobieski’s works also include numerous and erudite funeral speeches, original epitaphs and letters.12

During his lifetime, Jakub participated in many military expeditions, including the expedition of Prince Władysław to Moscow in 1617. Four years later, he faced the Turks at Chocim in 1621. Three years later he fought against the Tatars in defence of Trembowla and in the battle of Martynow. In 1634, he took part in an expedition against the Turks near Kamieniec, fighting against the Turkish troops of Mehmed Abaza, governor of the Ottoman province of Sylistria.

Sobieski’s magnate position was consolidated by two marriages, just like in the case of his father. He entered into the first marriage in 1620 with Marianna, the Princess Wisniowiecka, daughter of the duke Konstanty Wisniowiecki and Anna of Zahorowscy. However, neither of them experienced marital happiness, because Jakub, who was involved in the military expedition against the Turks and peace mediation, was rarely home. Marianna died unexpectedly in 1624 which had a deep impact on Jakub. He struggled to come to terms with the loss and was deeply affected by her death.13 In 1627 he remarried to Zofia Teofila (Sophia Theophila) from Danilowicze. She was granddaughter to Stanislaw Żółkiewski, the Chancellor and Grand Hetman of Crown, who in 1610 after the victory at Kłuszyn took Moscow and decades later died a hero’s death at Cecora in a military engagement with the Turks in 1620.14

The Sobieski family attained their highest position among the elite thanks to the activity of Jakub’s second son, Jan (John), who was born in 1629. His elder brother Marek (Mark) Sobieski, with whom Jan jointly ←39 | 40→received education at the Cracow Academy and then travelled abroad in 1645–1648, was killed during the battle of Batoh in 1652 with the Cossacks and Tatars.15 Jan began his military career with skirmishes with Tatars in 1653. A year later, he was a member of the diplomatic mission of Mikołaj (Nicholas) Bieganowski to Constantinople. This contact with various peoples in the region allowed him to become proficient in Italian, French, Spanish, German, Turkish and even Tatar until the end of his life. As well as gaining valuable military experience, these formative years instilled in him scientific passions, including those related to astronomy, theology, architecture and other arts. Jan inherited the titles of starosta of Jaworow in 1644 and that of Standard-Bearer of the Crown from 1656, after he displayed especial zeal in favour of the court of King Jan II Kazimierz Vasa against the Swedes, who had invaded Poland in 1655. As the ally of the Polish king, between 1661 and 1665 Jan Sobieski supported a motion for election during the lifetime of the king (vivente rege), opting for Louis II Bourbon-Condé. The candidacy of the French prince was a result of secret arrangements between Marie Louise Gonzaga de Nevers, queen of Poland-Lithuania, and the French court. King Louis XIV tried to get rid of his main opponent and former participant of Fronde of the Princes (1650–1653).16 This case led to his conflict with the Grand Marshal of the Crown, Jerzy (George) Sebastian Lubomirski. The parliamentary court, which recognised Lubomirski as a traitor because he opposed royal authority, decided to deprive him of his full office, which was then handed over by the king to Sobieski in 1665. A year later, Jan was appointed a ←40 | 41→Field Hetman (Commander) of the Crown.17 His military success and official promotions were enhanced by his marriage to Maria Kazimiera de la Grange d’Arquien.

Maria Kazimiera de la Grange d’Arquien was born in 1641 in Nevers, France. She belonged to an old family with connections to the French Capetian Dynasty, including the Bourbons themselves. However, the greatness of the de la Grange d’Arquien family had passed long ago. Maria’s father, Henri Albert d’Arquien (1613–1701) was the son of the governor of Calais and first the captain, then the colonel of the regiment of Gaston under the Duke of Orléans. In 1651 he was appointed Field Marshal of the French Army and three years later the commander of the Swiss Guard. In turn, the mother to the future queen was Françoise de la Châtre, sister of Marie Louise Gonzaga’s governess. Marie arrived in Poland with her attendant in 1646, however as a result of internal unrest and Marie Louise’s uncertain situation after the death of Władysław (Vladislav) IV, she was sent back to France. There she was given a simple education in the Ursuline Monastery in her hometown of Nevers and under the watchful eye of her aunt, Countess de Maligny at the Prie castle.18

Maria Kazimiera probably returned to Poland in 1649 and became a lady-in-waiting to queen Louise Marie. Maria Kazimiera’s beauty moved the hearts of numerous magnates. Finally, in 1658 she married the voivode of Sandomierz and owner of large estates, Jan ‘Sobiepan’ Zamoyski. Fascination and charm were quickly overtaken by regret and sadness. Maria Kazimiera’s desperation was a result of her spouse’s riotous lifestyle, ←41 | 42→including drunkenness, an inclination to wasting money and a tendency for affairs. Furthermore, the lack of offspring did not help to improve their life together. Maria Kazimiera had been infected with syphilis by her husband and as a result would lose children before they were born, and those that were born did not survive long. It was in this sorrowful moment of her life that Maria Kazimiera started corresponding with a good friend to the Zamoyski family, the Standard-bearer of the Crown and the Jaworów starosta, Jan Sobieski. Declaring their feelings in ever more courageous correspondence, the lovers contemplated their uncertain and foggy future considering the reactions of their relatives and the royal couple. In 1665, Astrée and Céladon, as Maria Kazimiera Zamoyska and Jan Sobieski referred to one another to mislead any potential unauthorised readers of their letters, swore that they would get married in the future. The moment occurred four years later. They were first married in secret in May 1669, only with the knowledge of the queen. Only in July of the same year, after Zamoyski’s death, their relationship was blessed once more, this time officially by the Apostolic nuncio in Poland Antonio Pignatelli.19

During the years 1669–1674 as the wife of Marshal and Field Hetman, and later the Grand Hetman of the Crown, Maria Kazimiera devoted herself to giving birth to offspring. Numerous childbirths (as many as nine out of twelve of Sobieski’s children, among them Teresa Teofila (Theresa Theophila), Adelajde Teresa (Adelaide Theresa), Maria Teresa (Marie Therese) and Jan died over the years 1669–1683 and health complications prevented her temporarily from participating in political life. The breakthrough year was the year of 1673 when, in November, king Michał (Michael) I died; but on the following day Jan III Sobieski won a spectacular victory against Hussein Pasza’s army in the Battle of Chocim on 11 November. The victorious Jan, who had had numerous successes in the struggles against the Tatars, Cossacks and Turks, was nominated for consideration as the new Polish monarch. His candidacy met with mixed opinions and speculations. The Lithuanian magnates and some of the representatives of the noble opposition from the Crown, inimical to him, looked ←42 | 43→favourably at other candidates, namely the Prince of Condé and Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine. Thus, the leaders of the Commonwealth once again found themselves in the hostile camps of two great powers – the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France, which sought to consolidate their influence in Central and East-Central Europe. It needs to be added that Sobieski himself was not sure and initially denied any rumours of his participation in the election.20

Maria Kazmiera, during the interregnum, showed great activity and her actions all aimed to secure the royal crown for her husband. Thanks to her contact with the ambassadors of Louis XIV in Berlin and Warsaw, she managed to raise funds to bribe the nobles who voted for the election of the monarch. With this move, she destroyed the plans of Sobieski’s opponents and led to his election on 21 May 1674. During her twenty-two-year period of being queen-consort, Maria Kazimiera interfered with the activity of many power institutions, including the Sejm (consisting of three states: the king, the chamber of deputies and the senate), regional assemblies, organs of the noble self-government of the lands and provinces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and also the Crown Tribunal. The queen was a promoter of many endeavours, both secular and clerical. At the same time, she recommended monarchs worthy of holding the highest offices, thus forming a political court faction. Maria Kazimiera did it with the hope of providing one of three sons − Jakub (James), Aleksander or Konstanty – with the elective throne of Poland, (see Figure 2.1). Apart from her influence on domestic politics, the queen influenced the main directions of foreign policy, leading to the conclusion in 1675 of a political alliance with France, which with the support of Sweden and Turkey was a counterweight to the Habsburgs. This change of the geopolitical situation led to the territorial expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Habsburg territory which resulted in an alliance with Vienna from 1678 to 1683. The queen’s continued work resulted in the signing of a non-aggression treaty between the Rzeczpospolita and the Holy Roman Empire on 1 April 1683. ←43 | 44→A few months later on 12 September King Jan III won his most famous victory at the relief of the Siege of Vienna, taking the Turkish camp in the rear at the head of his famous Winged Polish Hussars.

Figure 2.1: Queen Maria Kazimiera with her son Jakub

Unspecified painter from court circle of Jan III Sobieski, Portrait of Queen Maria Kazimiera with her son Jakub, c1676, 107 x 85cm, oil on canvas. Courtesy of Museum of Nieborów and Arkadia, a branch of the National Museum of Poland in Warsaw.

The following years, however, showed that friendship was not permanent. The joining of Jan III to the Holy League in 1684 imposed on the Polish king the obligation to fight in Wallachia and in Moldova in 1686 and 1691, and also in Kamieniec-Podolski in 1687, which his wife closely followed. During that time the helm of government was taken over by ←44 | 45→Maria Kazimiera, as an informal ‘regent’, although Sobieski did not limit, cede or resign his powers. An expression of the queen’s skill and competence was the negotiation of a military and trade treaty with the King of France in September 1692. The ‘Crown of the North’ alliance restored the relations between Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Warsaw.21 It guaranteed a French loan for the maintenance of the Bourbon party over the Vistula River and French aid in the event of the attack by the Republic of Brandenburg, Russia or the Holy Roman Empire. For the queen, the treaty carried another advantage in terms of its trade in grain and wood products on ships flying its flag between Gdansk and Dunkirk.

The queen’s latter years were turbulent however. Dynastic ambitions for the Sobieskis were dashed when in 1696 King Jan III died, followed by the defeat of Prince Jakub Sobieski by the elector of Saxony, Frederic Augustus I, in 1697 in the election for the throne. Quarrelling between the sons of King Jan III over the inheritance of his properties ensued. Furthermore, the unfavourable opinion of the nobility towards the queen-widow forced Maria Kazimiera to flee to Rome under the pretext of a pilgrimage to the Eternal City on the occasion of the jubilee year. She stayed in Rome from 1699 to 1714.22 Her time there appears to have been fraught with further distress and unhappiness. Between her father’s death in 1708 and numerous misunderstandings with Pope Clement XI as a result of her will to influence European affairs, the queen requested Louis XIV’s permission to return to ←45 | 46→France. After a two-year residence in Blois, the Polish queen-widow died on 17 January 1716.


Part of Maria Kazimiera’s international policies and negotiations were the marriages of her children. Along with international treaties, they were to provide a royal crown to one of the Sobieskis. Great importance was attached to the dowry of the future wife, from whom it would be possible to pay the nobility in exchange for her votes and to secure broad and strong political influence. Let us note, that in Rzeczpospolita, unlike in other parts of Europe where the law of succession to the throne prevailed, the fate of royal children, their education, the issue of giving them goods and their marriages were not private matters of the royal family. In essence, these were issues closely related to internal and foreign policy and, for this reason, dependent on the will of the nobility which met at the national assembly, the Sejm (Diet).

Great importance was attached to finding the right candidate for a wife for the eldest son – Jakub Sobieski. Around 1680, the king planned to give his first-born to Ludwika Karolina (Louise Charlotte) née Radziwiłł, the daughter of the Lithuanian magnate Bogusław Radziwiłł and the sole heir to his vast estates in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Meanwhile, without the consent of King Jan III, Ludwika Karolina gave the Margrave of Brandenburg, Louis Hohenzollern, her hand in marriage. Eventually, the case was brought to the Sejm in Warsaw in January 1681. When the news reached the capital about the marriage by Ludwika Karolina, Jan III gave his consent under the condition of payment of 40,000 thalers and an oath that Margrave Louis would not in the future become the opponent of Prince Jakub in his bid to obtain the Polish crown.23

←46 | 47→

After some shifting preferences between Habsburgs and the Bourbons, Jakub was offered to marry the Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria in 1681, and later to the sister of the Elector of Bavaria, Violante Beatrice in 1683. The strong involvement of Jan III in the activities of the Holy League against the Turks and the search for more allies in Europe led to the offer of marriage of Jakub to the Portuguese Infanta Izabella Louise in 1684; and to the niece of Louis XIV, Elizabeth Charlotte de Chartres, to be considered in 1685, in order to overcome the reluctant attitude of France. When these various calculations and offers had failed, after the sudden death in 1687 of Margrave Louis Hohenzollern the Polish court returned to the plan of Jakub’s marriage to Ludwika Karolina née Radziwiłł. Jakub had the strongest position among the high-ranking opponents who included Louis of Baden (1655–1707), Charles Philip Wittelsbach prince of Pfalz-Neuburg (1661–1742) and George Louis of Hanover (1660–1724), who in 1714 assumed the thrones of Britain and Ireland as George I. Ludwika Karolina expressed her willingness to meet Jakub, which took place in Berlin in August 1688 and provided him with a written promise that she would marry him, guaranteeing the contract with all her property. Despite this, after Jakub’s departure, the Hohenzollerns also entered marriage negotiations with Charles Philip Wittelsbach, thereby arousing the anger of the Polish king. As a result, the oath given to Sobieski was broken and Ludwika Karolina gave her hand and rights to vast lands in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Hohenzollerns. King Jan III felt this as a deep insult. The Polish king decided to occupy Ludwika Karolina’s estates in Lithuania, as a form of revenge to her embezzlement and humiliation of the crown.24

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Figure 2.2: Engraving of Jan III and his Family

Benoît Farjat, after Henri Gascar, Ioannes III Rex Poloniae Invictissimus etc. Gloria par gestis compar Virtutibus Uxor. Almula Naturum Fama, parentis erit. [Jan III Invincible King of Poland etc. His Glory matches the comparable virtues of his wife. He will be a kind natural traditional parent], 1693, 43.7 x 62.8 cm, 1 graph: copper (National Library of Poland, Warsaw). This is a copperplate engraving from 1693 showing (from left): Konstanty Władysław, Jakub Ludwik, depicted in the framed portrait King Jan III, Aleksander Benedykt, Queen Maria Kazimiera and Teresa Kunegunda.

The question of Jakub’s marriage-matches and all the related quarrels continued until 1691. Under the agreement between the Polish king and the Holy Roman Emperor, the Polish prince was given the hand of the Emperor Leopold I’s sister-in-law Jadwiga Elżbieta (Hedwig Elizabeth) Wittelsbach. As a result, the Sobieski royal house became affiliated with many European dynasts. The sisters of Jadwiga Elżbieta were Eleonor Magdalen (1655–1720) wife of Emperor Leopold I; Marie Sophie (died 1748) wife of the Portuguese King Peter II Braganza; Dorothy Sophie (died 1748) wife of Odoard II Farnese, Prince of Parma and Piacenza; Marie Anna (died 1740) wife of the Charles II of Habsburg, King of Spain. Her brothers were, in turn, Palatinate electors: Philip Wilhelm (died 1693), John Wilhelm (died 1716) and Charles Philip (died 1742); Prince-Bishop of Worms and ←48 | 49→Archbishop-Elector of Trier, Wroclaw and Mainz, Francis Louis (died 1732) and Alexander Sigismund, Bishop of Augsburg (1663–1737).25

Another matrimonial success was the marriage of the daughter of Jan III – Teresa Kunegunda (Theresa Kunegundis) to the Bavarian elector Maximilian II Emanuel. The Sobieskis, deciding on the person of the Bavarian elector and governor of the Spanish Netherlands, did not want to clearly declare their sympathy for or against the emperor, but rather they reserved the possibility of freely deciding on the direction of foreign policy. Teresa’s marriage was sealed with a marriage agreement in May 1694, and in August that year there was a marriage per procura in Warsaw. In January of the following year the new electress took her seat in Brussels and from that time began to share the joys and sorrows of her husband. In 1695, she survived the bombardment of Brussels by the French troops of Louis XIV and, with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, she was forced to leave for Munich five years later. As a regent of the Bavarian Electorate in the years 1702–1705, she guarded the territorial status of the authorities, presided over the war councils, cared for the economic condition and affluence of the subjects, and supported religious and charitable foundations. The violation of peace by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I resulted from 1705 in Teresa Kunegunda’s exile in Venice, away from her husband. The reunion of the spouses took place only in 1715 in Munich, where the electress remained until the death of her husband in 1726. She returned to Venice and died there in 1730. It is worth adding that the descendant of the electoral couple, Charles Albert Wittelsbach, during the First Silesian War in 1741 subdued the Kingdom of Bohemia and forced Marie Theresa (Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, the uncrowned Holy Roman Empress) to flee to Hungary. In January 1742, the Reich Diet chose him Holy Roman Emperor, which he held until his death in 1745.26

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Plans to marry the other sons of Jan III Sobieski and Maria Kazimiera to high-ranking families did not come to pass. The second of the sons of the royal couple, Aleksander along with the youngest brother, Konstanty, travelled in France during the years 1694–1696, where they visited the court of Louis XIV. During that time Maria Kazimiera, wanting to secure the future of her younger sons, tirelessly looked around for suitable candidates their strategic marriages. Through her correspondence, there appears to have been an endless list of princesses Aleksander could marry. According to Maria Kazimiera, the daughter of Duchess d’Enghien could be an excellent candidate. The princess was 30 years old, but she had a dowry of 100,000 livres. Unfortunately, on reading the letter it is not clear to whom exactly it relates. Perhaps Maria Kazimiera meant one of the daughters of Louis de Bourbon-Condé. At that time, three princesses were unmarried at his home – Louise Elisabeth born in 1693, Louise Anne born in 1695 and Marie Anne who was somewhat younger. At one time, the queen planned a marriage of her son with the aunt of the above-mentioned Duchess d’Enghien, only 32 years old, and therefore still held the promise of bearing children; at another, it could be the daughter of Henry III de Bourbon-Condé. The queen was aware that her son’s bachelor status was a consequence of negligence from the time when Jan III was still alive. However, she was convinced that he would accept everything that she now tried to do for him, because he always agreed with her opinions on the family. When Aleksander declared that the potential marriage partners should at least like each other it caused further worry to Maria Kazimiera who complained that Konstanty probably thought the same. She emphasised that she was doing her best to make their father’s name survive by looking for the most suitable wives, and that her sons did not care about their unstable situation. Once more, Maria Kazimiera tried to win for the sons one of the daughters of the deceased ←50 | 51→Prince Jan Frederic von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, during Sobieski’s stay at the court in Hanover in 1694, but again she was disappointed.

Both of the princes went to Rome in 1700, where together they were awarded the Order of the Holy Spirit. Soon after, in 1704, the king of Sweden, Charles XII and a group of Polish magnates, supported Aleksander’s candidacy for the Polish throne. During that time the possibility of marriage between Aleksander and Princess Ulrice Eleonora was being considered. According to one of the remittances, Charles XII had to submit to such an offer. Prince Aleksander, however, rejected all these offers.27 He was at that time very fearful for the lives of his brothers Jakub and Konstanty, who had been kidnapped by the former Polish king Augustus II and held captive in Saxony. After their eventual release, he ceased political activity and left for Rome. In the Eternal City he joined the Arcadian academy, which is a gathering of writers, scholars and artists. He composed poetry and sponsored operas with music by Domenico Scarlatti and Filippo Juvarra.28


XIV, 192
ISBN (Book)
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