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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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8 Princess Clementina’s Marriage Certificate and Other Jacobite Relics in the Library of Trinity College Dublin (Estelle Gittins)



There has been a Library at Trinity College Dublin since the college was founded in 1592, and collecting has been continuous since that time. The Book of Kells, whilst the most famous item, is just one of thousands of collections documenting people, places and institutions often with no connection to Ireland. This short paper will comment on two documents of interest housed by Trinity College Dublin which would be of special interest to scholars of Jacobite history in Ireland. Of particular interest to readers of this collection of essays is the first piece, which was the result of Princess Clementina’s liberation and escape.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin holds two fascinating and little-known Jacobite ‘relics’, a pair of manuscripts bought by a nineteenth-century Irish tourist in Rome. One is a volume of the private devotions of the last reigning Stuart monarch James II (1633–1701), while the other is the marriage certificate of his son, ‘the Old Pretender’ James III (1688–1766) and the Polish Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska (1701–1735). Both are intimate family documents that share a remarkable, unbroken provenance reaching back to James III’s son, Henry, ←167 | 168→Cardinal Duke of York (1725–1807): Henry was the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720–1788), and the last of the Stuart line.

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

Minerua, Pope Clement XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani), 1649–1721, unknown date, 26.90 x 19.80...

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