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The Irish to the Rescue

The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape

Edited By Richard Maher

In May 1719, the rescue and escape of Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska from her detention in Innsbruck was celebrated throughout Catholic Europe. It was a feat of painstaking planning, daring execution, and steel-nerved improvisation. Masterminded by Kildareman Charles Wogan, he and his Irish and French companions influenced the course of international relations, shocking King George I’s government in London, and providing a much-needed boon to the followers of the exiled Stuart claimant, James Stuart III.

This unique collection of essays does not merely recount the factual story of Maria Clementina’s rescue and subsequent marriage, it provides for the first time in any publication an authoritative analysis of its political and cultural significance and the full historical context in which the event took place. A full image of Europe at the time of the rescue is sketched out, including such topics as the question of the Irish in Europe in the eighteenth century; the illustrious Sobieski family and their origins; a short account of the rescue itself; the fate of Charles Wogan and

his followers after the rescue; the Habsburg-Hanoverian alliance and its context; the marriage of James Stuart III and Maria Clementina Sobieska; details of the collection of Stuart artefacts housed at Trinity College Dublin; and contemporary musical compositions which were written and dedicated to Maria Clementina.

This book is a follow-on publication from a public seminar titled The Irish the Rescue: The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape. The seminar was held at Europe House in Dublin on 30th April 2019.

The seminar and the publication of its proceedings have been generously sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ireland and the Embassy of France in Ireland.

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4 Service and Exile: Sir Charles Wogan, 1715–1719 (Richard K. Maher)



As the light was fading from his eyes in July 1754, one wonders what thoughts and emotions may have come to Sir Charles Wogan. In his latter years he had been honoured by his hosts in the Kingdom of Spain with the governorship of La Mancha, and then promoted to the governorship of Barcelona; achievements of which an Irish gentleman from County Kildare could indeed be proud. Regarding his activities on behalf of the exiled King James Stuart III though, his undoubted pride might have been tinged with other emotions. He wrote in 1746 that he had lost his inheritance in Ireland through ‘the wildness of my youth’ referring to his service to James.1 Between 1715 and 1719, as this paper will show, he brought a level of energy, zeal and ingenuity which was badly needed by the unfortunate and beleaguered royal House of Stuart. For a man who possessed such clear talents and had earned the trust and esteem of his monarch the future held much promise. His most outstanding achievement, the rescue of the betrothed Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska on behalf of his liege, should have paved the path to high distinctions of royal favour and positions of authority at the king’s side at the Jacobite court in exile in Rome, but this did not transpire. This paper provides an account of Wogan’s activities in the early days of James III’s exile from the Kingdom of France. Furthermore, it will juxtapose his previous service, his achievement...

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