views updated Jun 11 2018


JACOBITISM. Jacobitism was the underground cultural and dynastic movement that supported the restoration of the main line of the Stuart dynasty to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland.


Jacobitism took its name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James, and stemmed directly from the Revolution of 1688 (also known as the Glorious Revolution, the English Revolution, or the Bloodless Revolution), in which the Catholic James II (ruled 16851688) was overthrown by a Dutch invasion (led by his Protestant nephew and son-in-law William of Orange, subsequently William III [ruled 16891702]) and widespread rebellion in England. James II, who became convinced he was liable to be murdered by the supporters of the Revolution, known as Revolutioners, fled to France in December 1688. There he found a refuge at the royal palace of St. Germain en Laye and (at least intermittent) support from Louis XIV (ruled 16431715), who saw in James's cause an opportunity to display his credentials as an upholder of both monarchical government and the Counter-Reformation. When support for James and the Jacobite cause did not conflict with his other objectives, Louis provided substantial military resources to back attempts to restore James II and subsequently his only surviving son, "James III" (the Old Pretender, a sobriquet fixed on him by Whig propagandists). These attempts began in March 1689 when James II and a small French force landed at Kinsale in Ireland. The Catholicizing regime brought in while James was king was at that point still in control of most of the island, but serious rebellions had broken out against his authority in Ulster, where Irish Protestant rebels had seized the towns of Londonderry and Enniskillen and were holding out for the newly proclaimed King William III. Despite the goodwill of the great majority of his Catholic Irish subjects, James proved unable to construct the administrative and military infrastructure necessary to maintain the large army of volunteers he found waiting for him in Ireland. This was in part the result of Ireland's relative poverty and in part that of a rift between James's objectives and those of the leaders of the Irish Catholic community. Whereas James simply sought to turn Ireland into a steppingstone for his reconquest of England, the Irish Catholic political nation wanted the overturning of the post-1660 land settlement, which had left nearly 80 percent of Ireland in the hands of the descendants of earlier Protestant colonists, and the sharp attenuation of the constitutional power of the English Parliament to dictate policy and law to Ireland's Parliament. The upshot was that Londonderry and Enniskillen were never retaken, and the Irish Jacobite army was in a poor state to face William III when he landed in Ireland with a large veteran army in the summer of 1690. At the battle of the Boyne on 1 July, William defeated James and routed his army. James fled the country on 3 July, ungratefully (and unfairly) blaming the Irish for the disaster. With the help of French reinforcements, resistance continued in the west of Ireland until 12 July 1691, when the Jacobite army was again defeated at the battle of Aughrim and forced to fall back on its last stronghold at Limerick. After a brief siege, the defenders of Limerick surrendered on 3 October 1691 on generous terms that allowed the evacuation of 12,000 of them to France, where they subsequently became the basis of the elite Irish brigade that served the Bourbons until 1789. With the collapse of Irish Jacobite resistance, the Highland rebellion it had inspired in Scotland also came to an end. There, after an unexpectedly good start when James Graham, Viscount Dundee, defeated a Williamite army at Killiecrankie on 17 July 1689 (despite the fact that he himself was killed in the closing moments of the battle), the war in Scotland had settled into a bitter pattern of raid and counterraid that bankrupted the Scottish state and ravaged the Highlands without reaching any conclusion. Hearing of the surrender of Limerick and with it the end of any hope of reinforcement from Ireland, the Scottish Jacobites negotiated a cessation in the autumn of 1691. Brinksmanship over the taking of oaths of loyalty to the Williamite regime by several clan chieftains, and bad faith combined with malice on the part of key government officials, then led to a punitive expedition against the technically holdout Macdonalds of Glencoe. The troops entrusted with the operation duplicitously quartered themselves on the Macdonalds and then on the night of 13 February 1692 perpetrated an infamous massacre on their hosts that shocked the Scottish political nation.

From 1691 until the death of Louis XIV in 1715 Jacobitism in the British Isles revolved around plotting for risings against the new order. Louis several times (1692, 1696, and 1708) provided troops and ships to support and/or precipitate a Jacobite rising, but on each occasion matters went awry. The major obstacles to a French invasion were the Royal Navy, the unpredictability of the weather, and the difficulty of coordinating a rising in England or Scotland with a French invasion. Basically, the Jacobites wanted a French landing first, after which they would rise, while the French wanted a Jacobite rising first, after which they would land. In addition, the French navy, facing mounting odds in its struggle with the Royal Navy and its Dutch allies in both the War of the League of Augsburg (16881697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (17021714), was increasingly reluctant to undertake an operation that would be tantamount to a death ride for the ships and crews involved. In between plotting for invasions, the Jacobites sought with equal energy to subvert and undermine the post-Revolution political order through propaganda and conventional politics, both at Westminster and on the streets. Throughout the reign of Queen Anne (17021714), the Jacobites were somewhat more restrained in their plotting than under William III, partly out of liking for the pious Tory queen, and partly out of the mistaken belief that she favored the restoration on her death of the main line of the Stuarts, in the shape of her half-brother, the Old Pretender.

As she lay dying in August 1714, however, Anne ensured that the Act of Succession of 1702 would be enforced, and rather than the Old Pretender succeeding, her Parliament-approved successor, George, elector of Hanover (a distant, but reliably Protestant, relative) peacefully inherited the throne. For Continental political reasons George I (ruled 17141727) had aligned himself with the Whigs in the bitter parliamentary struggles of Queen Anne's last years, and when it subsequently became clear that he would continue to favor the Whigs, the Tories rapidly became alienated. The process began when the Whigs took the first opportunity to be revenged on their old enemies in a series of parliamentary impeachments of members of Queen Anne's last, Tory, ministry. This drove a significant minority of the Tories into the arms of the Jacobites. Meanwhile, in Scotland support for the Jacobite cause had been boosted by the constitutional union of Scotland and England (which was primarily driven by English determination to ensure that Scotland adhered to the Hanoverian succession), forced through the Scots Parliament in 17061707, which had outraged a great many Scots. Thus when England erupted in Tory/Jacobite rioting in the summer of 1715, the Scots Jacobites, led by John Erskine, the earl of Mar, felt emboldened to rebel in September. The rebels rapidly won control of most of northern Scotland, more by dint of the fact that the Whig ministry was determined to secure southern England and so kept the bulk of the army there, than by their own abilities. Though Mar was able to build up a formidable force at Perth that far outnumbered the government army at Stirling, he was paralyzed by indecision. It appears that he expected to be quickly reinforced and replaced as commander by Jacobite professional officers in French pay, most notably James Fitzjames, duke of Berwick and marshal of France, and had no idea what to do in the interim. When forced by a conclave of Jacobite leaders to march south, he was met by the government army under John Campbell, duke of Argyll, at Sherrifmuir on 13 November. A battle ensued which Argyll may be said to have won insofar as the core of his army survived despite being outnumbered in the region of three to one. Mar retreated north, back to Perth. He was joined there at the end of December by the Old Pretender, who had finally managed to slip through a dragnet of British agents and Royal Navy warships to get to Scotland. The Old Pretender's arrival, however, closely coincided with the commencement of a winter campaign by Argyll, which took Perth in three days and chased the dwindling Jacobite army north. On 4 February 1716 at Montrose, Mar and the Old Pretender took ship for the Continent. What was left of the Jacobite army retreated north into the Highlands, and within a month the government was back in control of the whole of Scotland. A small Jacobite rising in northern England in OctoberNovember 1715 was trapped and forced to surrender at Preston on 14 November.

The collapse of the 1715 rebellion initiated a long period of fruitless plotting and dashed hopes. For thirty years plots were hatched in the British Isles while Jacobite diplomats from the shadow court sought the military backing of a European great power. At various times Sweden, Spain, the Habsburgs, Russia, and France negotiated with them, either to put diplomatic pressure on Britain or out of genuine sympathy. Only Spain, in a moment of desperate crisis during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (17181720), actually attempted an invasion of Britain, but it was forced back by storms on 18 March 1719. A separate, diversionary Spanish force led by the Earl Marischal managed to reach Lewis on 9 April, and subsequently raised a small rebellion in the Highlands, but the Jacobite army was defeated at Glenshiel on 5 June, which put an end to the affair. Only in the 1740s, as virtually all of the great powers became involved in the War of the Austrian Succession, did real openings for Jacobite diplomacy reemerge. Negotiations inaugurated by the leaders of a faction among the Tories led in due course to French preparations for an invasion, to be backed up by a Tory/Jacobite rising, in February 1744. Once again a storm and the Royal Navy prevented French and Jacobite plans from coming to fruition.

The Old Pretender's oldest son, though, had been secretly invited to France from Rome, where his father was by this time in exile, to head the invasion force. Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie) was a young man in a hurry, and when the French abandoned their invasion plans in favor of renewed campaigning in Flanders he opted to try and go it alone. With the help of Irish merchants, well established in the ports of western France, he surreptitiously gathered a force of volunteers from the Irish brigades and arms for many more and invaded Scotland in the summer of 1745. By various mishaps he arrived on Eriskay in the Hebrides on 23 July with only one ship, few arms, and little money, and was promptly advised to go home by local Jacobite leaders. Using his considerable charm Charles Edward broke down their resistance, and within a month was on the march with a small, but growing, force composed primarily of Highland clansmen. In a whirlwind campaign commanded mainly by Lord George Murray, the Jacobites were able to capture Edinburgh, apart from the castle, and rout a government army at Prestonpans on 21 September. After gathering further recruits, Charles Edward cajoled the Scots Jacobite leaders into undertaking an invasion of England that swept as far south as Derby by 5 December, causing panic in London and a crisis of confidence in the Whig ministry. The premise of the campaign was, however, that if they were shown what the Scots could achieve, the French would invade and the English Jacobites would rise. Neither transpired. The French government was desperately throwing together another invasion force, but it was not ready to depart until the very end of December, and the English Jacobites dithered until the opportunity had passed. So at a council of war in Derby on 5 December 1745 Charles Edward was forced to turn back by his commanders. Despite the Jacobite prince's sour obstructionism, the Jacobite army reached Scotland safely on 20 December, and there regrouped in time to defeat another government army at Falkirk on 17 January 1746. The victory could not, though, hold back the numbers of government troops converging on southern Scotland, and the Jacobites were forced to retreat into northern Scotland. At the insistence of Charles Edward, the Jacobite army ill-advisedly tried to make a stand at Culloden on 16 April 1746 and was badly defeated there by a government force commanded by William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, second son of George II. Even so, the Jacobite army rallied at Ruthven and offered to fight on, but was abandoned by Charles Edward, who chose to try to escape to France. The Jacobite army dispersed and when several Highland chieftains refused to comply with Cumberland's demand that they surrender unconditionally, Cumberland launched a savage campaign of repression that ravaged the Highlands and is still bitterly remembered throughout Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. Charles Edward was meanwhile sheltered by sympathizers in the Highlands and eventually escaped to France, arriving there on 30 September 1746.

The failure of the '45 is usually taken as the death knell of the Jacobite movement, but in fact Jacobite plotting and negotiations with great powers such as France, Prussia, and Spain continued into the late 1750s. The defeat of the rebellion sapped the Jacobites' strength and credibility in Scotland, yet there was still a strong Jacobite diaspora loyal to the Stuart cause in France and Spain. The last Jacobite invasion attempt, which was largely the brainchild of Arthur Tollendal, comte de Lally, commander of the Irish brigade, was only defeated by the victory of the Royal Navy at the battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759. Charles Edward eventually succeeded his father as the Jacobite "Charles III" in January 1766, by which time he was a paranoid, bitter alcoholic. Though he lingered until 30 January 1788, the Jacobite cause may fairly be said to have been dead by that time.


The threat to the post-Revolutionary order posed by the Jacobites is the subject of much debate among historians. The debate ultimately revolves around the level of support they enjoyed in the three kingdoms. Since those who expressed Jacobite sympathies in any form were liable to severe punishment, we can never know exactly how many English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish truly favored the restoration of the Stuarts. Our only tangible measures are the numbers who turned out to fight in rebellions, and records of crown prosecutions of suspected Jacobites. Moreover, the numbers yielded by even these sources are obviously flawed. How many Jacobite soldiers were obliged to fight against their own inclinations, by their clan chieftains or landlords, or, conversely, would have joined a Jacobite army if one had passed nearby? How many Jacobite ballad singers, roisterers, or rioters escaped prosecution by the crown? We have, therefore, to assume that both the numbers of Jacobites in arms and the numbers caught committing Jacobite crimes are merely the tip of an iceberg. That said, it seems likely that the strongest support for Jacobitism lay in Scotland and Ireland. In England and Wales there was a small Nonjuror church that split with the Church of England over its acceptance of William III as monarch in 1689. This church remained loyal to the Stuarts to the very end, and its adherents shaded over into the more extreme, High Church wing of the Church of England, but the best guess would put their numbers combined at less than 5 percent of the English and Welsh population. To this we must add the small Catholic minority, which comprised around 2.5 percent of the population by the eighteenth century. There may well have been further sympathizers, but it is impossible to even guess at their numbers, which makes an estimate of 510 percent of the English population inclined to Jacobitism as good as we can get.

In Scotland the situation was quite different. The Episcopal clergy forced out of the Presbyterian Kirk in the 1690s soon established their own independent church that from the start adhered to the Stuarts. In large parts of the Highlands and in Lowland Scotland north of the Tay, this church probably included a majority of the population, and may have amounted to 3040 percent of the population of Scotland as a whole in the early eighteenth century. In addition, the tiny Catholic minority (12 percent of the population), which tended to be concentrated in particular clans, were steadfast Jacobites. To this number we should add a small minority of Presbyterians who were so incensed by the Union of England and Scotland bulldozed through the Scottish Parliament in 17061707 that they tended to be inclined to Jacobitism thereafter. Deducting neutralist/loyalist Episcopalians, maybe as many as 30 percent of Scots were inclined to support the Jacobites.

Ireland, by contrast, was a Jacobite hotbed. Because there were no further Jacobite rebellions there after 1691, many historians have been skeptical about the depth of Irish Jacobitism, mainly because they based their analyses on partial, and misleading, English-language sources. In fact, Irish (Gaelic) sources reveal a general enthusiasm for the Jacobite cause among the majority, Catholic, population despite the shabby treatment of the Catholic Irish by James II and the Stuart dynasty as a whole. Since it is generally accepted that about 75 percent of the Irish population was Catholic in the period 16921800, this would make Ireland the key bastion of Jacobitism in the British Isles. This assessment is underscored by the flow of recruits out of Ireland to join the Irish brigades in French and Spanish service. Though some of them were seeking only adventure or an escape from poverty and discrimination, many more were recruited with the promise that they would soon return to the British Isles as part of a victorious army led by their rightful (Stuart) king. The Irish brigades were, in spirit, the Stuarts' army in exile, and certainly tens of thousands of young Irishmen slipped overseas to join them between 1692 and 1760.


Jacobitism was the bane of the post-Revolutionary political order for the first seventy years of its existence. The new order was no more certain of the number of secret Jacobites than we are and oscillated between a general concern and outright panic with respect to how to deal with the threat they posed. Jacobite plotting and invasion attempts in concert with one or another European great power punctuated political life. On average there was a Jacobite-related political "event" every one or two years between 1689 and 1730 and one every three or four years between 1730 and 1760. Always lurking on the fringes of possibility was the chance that the Jacobites would get a European great power's backing, successfully land in Britain, and coordinate a general uprising in support of the Stuart cause. Rather than run the risk of this nightmare scenario ever happening, the ministers of successive post-Revolution regimes worked to forestall Jacobite diplomacy in Europe by alliances and treaties, built up their military forces, and ferreted out conspiracy in the British Isles. In terms, then, of both the dynamics of politics and the development of the British fiscal-military state Jacobitism had a profound influence. Though it started as an expression of dynastic loyalty, Jacobitism came to act as a vehicle for nationalistic aspirations. In Scotland and Ireland a Stuart restoration was linked to the restoration of lost sovereignty and the reattainment of a golden age. If for no other reason, Jacobitism's acting as a conduit for such sentiments among the subsumed polities of the British Isles justifies its inclusion among the most important phenomena of the eighteenth century.

See also Anne (England) ; George I (Great Britain) ; George II (Great Britain) ; Glorious Revolution (Britain) ; Hanoverian Dynasty (Great Britain) ; Scotland .


Baynes, John. The Jacobite Rising of 1715. London, 1970.

Bennett, Gareth V. The Tory Crisis in Church and State: The Career of Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester 16881730. Oxford, 1975.

Black, Jeremy. Culloden and the '45. New York, 1990.

Clark, Jonathan C. D. "On Moving the Middle Ground: The Significance of Jacobitism in Historical Studies." In The Jacobite Challenge, edited by Eveline Cruickshanks and Jeremy Black, pp. 177188. Edinburgh, 1988.

Cruickshanks, Eveline. Political Untouchables: The Tories and the '45. London, 1979.

Fritz, Paul S. The English Ministers and Jacobitism between the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. Toronto, 1975.

Gregg, Edward. "The Jacobite Career of John, Earl of Mar." In Ideology and Conspiracy: Aspects of Jacobitism, 16891759, edited by Eveline Cruickshanks, pp. 179200. Edinburgh, 1982.

Hopkins, Paul. Glencoe and the End of the Highland War. Edinburgh, 1986.

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Lenman, Bruce. The Jacobite Risings in Britain 16891746. London, 1980.

Macinnes, Allan I. Clanship, Commerce and the House of Stuart, 16031788. East Linton, Scotland, 1996.

McLynn, Frank J. Charles Edward Stuart: A Tragedy in Many Acts. London and New York, 1988.

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ó Ciardha, Éamonn. Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 16851766: A Fatal Attachment. Dublin, 2002.

Pittock, Murray G. The Myth of the Jacobite Clans. Edinburgh, 1995.

. Poetry and Jacobite Politics in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland. Cambridge, U.K., 1994.

Szechi, Daniel. George Lockhart of Carnwath, 16891727: A Study in Jacobitism. East Linton, Scotland, 2002.

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Daniel Szechi


views updated May 21 2018




The Jacobites, today numbering some half a million, adhere to a branch of Christianity that is most commonly known as the Jacobite church. They are to be found mostly in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. Following the Mongol invasions in 1258, some emigrated to northern Mount Lebanon, where they settled among the Maronites, their spiritual cousins. There are settlements in northern Syriaaround Horns (Emessa) and Hama and also in Damascusorganized into some six parishes and subscribing to the Catholic branch. Those around Aleppo date from after World War I. Jacobites in Syria numbered some 100,000 in the mid-1970s, with about a quarter of them being Catholic.

History and Cultural Relations

The Jacobites have been referred to historically as members of the "West Christian Church," also of the "Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East." Jacobite missionary activity, dating back to the earliest centuries of Christianity, led to the establishment of a branch in the Malabar region of southwestern India. The apostle Saint Thomas is credited with laying the foundation for the Malabar church.

The Jacobites came into being under this name as a consequence of the intense Christological controversies that took place during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the Arian heresywhich stressed that only the Father was the true God, the Son being subordinateprevailed (not to be overturned until the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381). Grounded as they were in the Aramaic culture and history of the Syro-Iraqi region, it was inevitable that they would be drawn away from the Greco-Roman church, which eventually triumphed as the official religion of the empire.

The Jacobites were one of the Eastern churches that espoused Monophysitism, a by-product of the Council of Chalcedon of 451, which was declared heretical when Emperor Justin I caused fifty bishops who espoused Monophysitism to be excommunicated at the Synod of Constantinople, in 518. Monophysites henceforth were to be suppressed at the highest level of the state church. Reprieve was gained under the Empress Theodora, who urged a policy of reconciliation on her husband, Emperor Justinian, and who was therefore hailed as a champion of Monophysitism. This policy changed quickly under Justin II, however.

The Monophysites of Syria came to be known as Jacobites, probably named after Jacob Baradai, a monk who lived in a monastery near Edessa (present-day Urfa). He journeyed to Constantinople in 540 to plead the cause of Monophysitism. Imprisoned for fifteen years with other bishops who shared his convictions, he was subsequently consecrated bishop of his sect and sent to Syria to organize it. He later consecrated Servius, who was to succeed Severus as patriarch of Antioch in 512. Some say he ordained two patriarchs, eighty-nine bishops, and countless members of the clergy. He is often called "Bishop of Edessa," but, as attested by the chronicler Gregory Bar Hebraeus, he had no fixed see. According to another tradition, the name derived from Jacob, the biblical patriarch. One Jacobite deacon alleged that his people were descendants of Jewish converts to Christianity, and still another source claims that the name came from Saint James, brother of Jesus and first bishop of Jerusalem. Regardless of the name's origin, before long the Arab tribes in the region that had been Christianized came under the leadership of this church, including the two dominant onesthe Taghlib in lower Iraq and the Banu Ghassān in lower Syria. They anchored the see of their faith at Antioch and, like the Syrian Orthodox and Byzantine-rite patriarchates, refused to surrender to the dictates of Constantinople.

Antioch had been the preeminent seat of early Christianity (it was the place where Christians first declared themselves), and it remained so until the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which sought to diminish its centrality by elevating the bishopric of Jerusalem to a patriarchate. The Jacobites were driven from Antioch after the death of Severus in 538. The term "Jacobite" was not even their own choice, but was given to them by their Greek Orthodox rivals. They readily accepted it, however.

The Jacobites' conflict with the Greeks, as with the other Eastern Christians who were opposed to them, was both theological and national, or ethnic: it was a contest between Syriac thought and Hellenistic culture. Moreover, the Christianity of Antioch was greatly influenced by the Jewish faith, as preached and practiced by Jesus, his disciples, and followers. The schism of Chalcedon stimulated the rise of Syriac as a religious and ecclesiastical language, whereas the Orthodox Antiochans pursued a Greek liturgy. The Greek version of Christianity persisted under the Byzantine Empire and even after the Ottomans had conquered their capital in 1453. The Jacobite version, on the other hand, was most powerful during the time when the Muslim Umayyad Empire thrived in Syria (661-750). The Jacobites and the Nestorians were favored by the Muslims over those who owed allegiance to Constantinople.

In Syria proper, there was an ongoing contention between Jacobite and Orthodox Christians that lasted over a hundred years after the Council of Chalcedon. The patriarchs of Antioch were sometimes Orthodox and sometimes Monophysite. Most famous of the latter was Severus, who controlled the city itself from 513 to 518. He was an author who wrote in Greek, a great admirer and quoter of Ignatius's Epistles, and a leader of the Monophysite party until his death, following which there was to evolve a double patriarchate: one at Antioch for the Jacobites, and the other for the Syrian Greek Orthodox.

The final breach between Monophysitism and Orthodoxy took place during the reign of Justinian's successor, Justin II, who, according to a contemporary account of John of Ephesus, persecuted the Monophysites. John hailed from Amida (present-day Diyarbakir) and served as bishop during the sixth century. He wrote in Syriac, thus earning the distinction of being the first Syriac historian. Even when driven from Antioch, Jacobite patriarchs continued to style themselves "of Antioch," although they now resided elsewhere, in Malatya, Diyarbakir, and, since the twelfth century, at the monastery of Zaʿfarān (Saffron) near Mardin.

Jacobites were intellectually active and demonstrated their historically close affinity with Hellenistic culture. The principal writer of the period was James (Jacob) of Edessa (d. 708), a poet, commentator, and letter writer, as well as a voluminous translator of Greek works into Syriac. Most eminent among all Jacobite writings in the medieval era is the Chronicle, of Gregory Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286), a brilliant scholar of Jewish parentage who served as metropolitan of Mosul after holding other sees. A lesser-known writer was Dionysius BārSalība, metropolitan of Amida, a theologian and commentator of the eleventh century. Jacobite writers gained prominence under the Muslims in science, medicine, and literature, to whose Islamic civilization they contributed in no small measure.

The Crusades and the reliance of the Crusaders in Edessa, Antioch, and Jerusalem on native Christian sectsno matter how "heretical"served in the long run to damage the Jacobites' native-church status with the Muslims. Unlike the Armenians and Maronites, however, the Jacobites did not strike up military alliances with the Crusaders, nor did they fight in their ranks, which enabled them to escape significant Muslim vengeance under the Mamluks. A temporary reprieve from persecution came with the Mongols, who conquered Baghdad in 1258 and ended the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, because of the strong influence of Nestorian Christianity among them.

Following the defeat of the Mongols, native Christian churches were once again chastised by the Mamluk sultans, who issued Jacobite patriarchs strict orders not to have any traffic with foreign Christian leaders. Jacobite communities sustained the greatest damage of all when Timur Lang (Tamerlane) conquered the area in the late fourteenth century and caused the death of the majority of Jacobites in the region of Tür ʿAbdīn; they were reduced to the status of a minority sect in the region between Mardin and Mosul, where they once were a majority.

Henceforth Jacobites were to be concentrated east of Aleppo and west and north of Mosul, with Tür ʿAbdīn becoming their strongest center. From northern Mesopotamia, they spread into Iran, where Nestorianism was flourishing. Carmelite missionaries discovered Jacobite communities in Shīrāz and Eşfahān in the seventeenth century and quickly turned them (some six hundred households) into Catholics. Aleppo (ancient Beroea) had had a Jacobite archbishop since 543, and, after the Arab conquest, Maronite and Melchite Christians also anchored bishoprics in the city, which had become an important center of anti-Chalcedonian Christians. As the city developed into one of the richest trading centers of the Ottoman Empire, attracting a large foreign commercial presence, the Catholic missions that had been established there succeeded in turning the anti-Chalcedonian Christians into followers of Rome. These Uniates, as they were then called, were to be known after the eighteenth century as "Syrian Catholics," to distinguish them from their brethren, who were now termed "Syrian Orthodox" (not to be confused with the Byzantine-rite Orthodox).

Jacobites spoke a vernacular Syriac in the early centuries; following the Arab conquests, they switched to Arabic and took Arabo-Islamic names. Indeed, they had adopted the language even before its alphabet. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jacobites formed important elements in cities like Mosul, Mardin, Urfa, Diyarbakir, Aleppo, and Baghdad. Interfaith relations were cordial and respectful, because the Jacobites were loyal to local administrations. One Episcopal missionary, Horatio Southgate, claimed that Muslims frequented Jacobite churches and even shared in revering their "holy men" and saints, most probably because of the Christian ancestry of those who had converted to Islam. Mardin served at this time as the center of the sect.

Administratively, the Jacobites were subject to their own clergy in civil as well as in spiritual matters, a system that derived from the millet (autonomous unit) structure that they had enjoyed under the Ottomans. Their link with the Sublime Porte (the Ottoman sultan's ministerial government) came via the Armenian patriarchate, and it was not until 1882 that they achieved a separate millet status, thanks largely to pressures from Great Britain. Theologically, they shared more with Coptic Monophysites than with Armenian Monophysites.

Oswald Hutton Parry, a Western observer, has described firsthand (Parry 1895) the organizational hierarchy of the Jacobite church, which was based in the nineteenth century in Mosul (or Mar Mattai), with bishops at Jerusalem, Damascus, Horns (Emessa), Edessa (Urfa), Amida (Diyarbakir), and Tūr ʿAbdīn (Jabal Tūr). The bishop of Mär Mattai had no independent see, and his entourage in 1887 consisted of only one monk in residence.

According to Parry, the patriarch was elected by the people, and the election was confirmed by the bishops who resided near Mardin. It was not uncommon for the maphrian to be promoted to the position of patriarch. The patriarch consecrated the bishops, who had to be either monks or widowed priests. Those chosen from the rank of monks were called matrān; those chosen from widowed priests were known as asgaf: they held a slightly lower rank than matrān and did not qualify for the patriarchate or maphrianate. Patriarchs and bishops were legally permitted to serve as judges for their own people in cases governed by personal law (i.e., marriages and divorces). Bishops had to be at least 35 years old to be ordained; deacons could be 20 or younger if they were able to read the Psalms in Syriac. Parish priests were elected by the parish councils. Deacons engaged in secular work during the week.

Jacobite monasteries were widespread; each came under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop unless it contained the tomb of a patriarch or archbishop, in which case it came under the governance of the patriarch. Monks were often laymen.

The Jacobites share the Syriac liturgywith some variationswith Maronites, Uniate Syrians, and Malabar Jacobites. Leavened bread is used in the Mass, and the leaven is handed down from generation to generation. The Eucharist is reserved for the sick, but only for communion on the same day. Upon baptism, a child is blessed with myron (from Greek: lit., "sweet oil"; consecrated only by the patriarch and other primates of the church) immersed in water thrice, annointed all over the body with oil, clothed, and confirmed. Confession is mandatory before communion on Maundy Thursday, Christmas, and Pentecost. Lent and Advent are observed as strict fasts; other such fasts include the Apostles' Fast, Pentecost, Mary's Fast (1-15 August), and those held on Wednesdays and Fridays during each week of the year (from sunset to sunset).

Today Jacobites still inhabit an area encompassing northern Iraq and Harput and Diyarbakir in Turkey. They number over two hundred thousand in Turkey, with almost an equal number in Iraq and Syria. There are sizable numbers around Mosul and Damascus, with the largest groupings in Jabal Tūr, north of the Mardin-Jazīra-Nusaybin line. They have important businesses (largely jewelry) and churches in Istanbul. Syriac is spoken vernacularly in southeastern Turkey, where Jacobites are heavily concentrated, and where some of the oldest and best-known churches are located.

The Uniate branch of the Jacobite church resulted from the work of Jesuits when they first came to Mesopotamia, in 1540. After the Union of Florence in 1439, many Jacobite clerical leaders became affiliated with Rome through their patriarchs. The split that took place between Mardin and Tūr ʿAbdīn at the beginning of the seventeenth century contributed to the move. Mardin, with its important cultural center at Zaʿfarān, drew Diyarbakir and Aleppo into its orbit. The permanent split began with the visit of André Akhijian, a young Jacobite monk from Mardin, to Rome in 1642. He was consecrated bishop in 1656 at the special request of the French consul, Victor Piquet, and succeeded Patriarch Sham un in Aleppo in 1659. A patriarchate in that city dates to 1646.

Maronites of Lebanon were instrumental in the creation of the Catholic patriarchate among the Jacobites, as they had been in creating one among the Nestorians, but this action intensified the opposition of their Orthodox brethren, and, between 1702 and 1755, the Jacobites were forced to endure many hardships, in spite of the support of the Maronite patriarch and his bishops. Often they could not elect their own patriarch, obliging Rome to appoint a vicar for them, which in turn obligated him to reside in Shabbaniya, in Lebanon, in order to enjoy the protection of the Maronites, who built a home there for him.

It was not until the election of Michael Jarwah as patriarch in 1738 that the Catholic branch took hold. Jarwah had endured much suffering and exile, ending up as a refugee at Saint Anthony's Maronite monastery in Bayt Shabāb (Lebanon). He was given a school in Sharia by the Maronite patriarch, Estepahn al-Duwayhi, and, through a generous endowment of the Maronite Khāzin feudal family, he was able to establish his patriarchal see as the most important Syrian Catholic center in the East.

In 1831 Armenian Catholics were represented by a patriarch who was not affiliated with the Latin church. The Sublime Porte recognized this patriarchate as being independent of Rome, thus establishing the precedent for other independent Catholic communities to break away from the jurisdiction of their patriarch. "Latinization," a controversial issue, was resisted by most native Catholics. The Sacra Congregatione della Propaganda Fide of Rome, in a decree dated 20 November 1838, permitted the sultan's Catholics to choose one of the rites for themselves and barred them access to the Latin rite, in order to satisfy their resentful bishops. The door was thus opened to all Ottoman subjects who had embraced Catholicism to receive legal status of their own. So the "Jacobite" Catholics were formally recognized as a separate and distinct community when Peter Jarwah was granted civil as well as spiritual jurisdiction over his flock in 1843.

Atrocities in their Anatolian habitat and the promise of economic opportunities drew a larger number of Jacobites to Lebanon after 1890. They settled in key cities like Beirut, Zahlé, and Tripoli, as well as in the Bekáa Valley. After World War I, the Syrian Catholic patriarch established his residence in Beirut, his predecessor having left Mardin under pressure from the Orthodox Jacobites. One of them, Jibrā'īl Tabbūni, was made a cardinal of the Roman Catholic church in 1929.

Horatio Southgate was sent to the region by the Board of the Episcopal church in 1835 with the view of founding a mission to the Jacobites; a one-man mission was established in 1839, with residence at Mardin. The Episcopal missionary worked his way into the grace of the patriarch by alleging that there were no theological differences between Jacobites and Episcopalians. His purpose, as he declared it, was to rescue the Jacobites from absorption by the Roman church.

In consequence of the increased Protestant missionary activities among the Jacobites and other native Christian churches in the East, coupled with the intense pressures upon the Ottoman government by European Protestant powers, first Grand Vizier Resid Pasa, in November 1847, and then, in November of 1850, Sultan Abdülmecid himself, issued charters declaring Ottoman subjects espousing Protestantism to be a separate community, entitled to the same rights accorded other non-Muslim subjects of the sultan.


Assemani, Joseph Simon (1730). De Syris Monophysitis Dissertatio. Bibliotheca (Mentalis. Vol. 2. Rome.

Brightman, F. E. (1847). Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio. 2 vols. Frankfurt am Main and London.

Denzinger, H. (1863-1864). Ritus Orientalium. 2 vols. Würzburg.

Joseph, John (1983). Muslim-Christian Relations and Inter-Christian Rivalries in the Middle East: The Case of the Jacobites in an Age of Transition. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Parry, Oswald Hutton (1895). Six Months in a Syrian Monastery. London.

Renaudot, Eusebe (1847). Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio. 2 vols. Frankfurt am Main and London.



views updated May 14 2018

Jacobitism was a series of political movements which supported the restoration of the exiled house of Stuart after James II had been ousted from the throne at the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and had fled to France. Jacobites continued to support the claims to the throne of James's son James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender or ‘James III’) and his two grandsons Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender or ‘Charles III’) and Henry Stuart (the cardinal duke of York or ‘Henry IX’).

There has been much recent controversy over Jacobitism, particularly who were or were not Jacobite MPs. One school of thought claims that as many as a third or more of Tory MPs were Jacobites, along with the major party leaders; while another believes that the bulk of the party were Hanoverian Tories who supported the new dynasty after 1714, despite the proscription of the party after the 1715 Rebellion. The problem lies with the definition of a Jacobite, with the sparseness of the evidence (engaged in treasonable activity Jacobites took care not to leave too much evidence behind), with the often ambiguous or even downright misleading evidence that has survived, with the use of the term Jacobite as rhetoric and as a smearword to damn one's political opponents, and with the emotional advocacy with which the topic has become charged. Some historians believe that once a Jacobite always a Jacobite, whereas it seems clear that, though there was a hard core of lifelong Jacobites, most drifted in and out of Jacobitism as circumstances or mood dictated. Some politicians thought by contemporaries and later historians to favour Jacobitism only worked with Jacobites in opposition because they were one of the few groups to hand (such as Earl Cowper in the new opposition grouping of dissident Whigs, Hanoverian Tories, and Jacobites in 1721–3); while others used Jacobites for their own (largely) political ends and discarded them when their objective had been achieved (such as the earl of Sunderland in 1721–2 when he negotiated with Jacobite MPs and peers to stave off impeachment proceedings over his involvement in the South Sea scandal).

Jacobitism had a religious, as well as a political, dimension. James II and his son and grandsons were catholics, whose refusal to convert to protestantism made their restoration virtually impossible other than by armed invasion. However, most of their supporters were protestants, and many were non-jurors, who had refused the oaths of loyalty to William and Mary (who had replaced James on the throne), and consequently had lost their secular or religious offices. Some who were prepared to take the oaths in 1689, and later to Anne, refused to recognize the Hanoverian succession and turned to Jacobitism. In Scotland, where Jacobitism was strongest, the episcopalian church had been disestablished at the Glorious Revolution, and subsequently many episcopalians became Jacobites. Jacobitism in Scotland became a refuge for many who opposed the Union with England in 1707. It also appealed to the lower, even the criminal, elements of society, as a form of social protest.

That Scotland was central to Jacobitism is shown by the two main risings which took place in 1715 and 1745. Many Highland chiefs and clansmen, who did battle for the Stuart cause, paid for their loyalty with life and property. Few English Jacobites came out in support of either rebellion. Jacobitism was crushed as a political force after the retreat from Derby by the forces of the Young Pretender and the defeat at Culloden in 1746. Thereafter the romantic and cultural aspect of the movements, which had always been a potent factor in attracting supporters, became dominant.

Clyve Jones


views updated May 23 2018

Jacobites Supporters of James II of England and his Stuart descendants, who attempted to regain the English throne after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Jacobitism was strong in the Scottish Highlands and parts of Ireland. In 1715 (the ‘Fifteen Rebellion’) a rising at Braemar proclaimed James Edward Stuart as king. The movement collapsed with the defeat of the rebels at Preston. In 1745, a second rising (the ‘Forty-Five Rebellion’), led by Bonnie Prince Charlie ( Charles Edward Stuart), captured Scotland and advanced as far as Derby, before retreating. In 1746, the English decisively defeated the Highlanders at the Battle of Culloden and embarked upon a policy of suppression of the Highland clans that ended the Jacobite threat.


views updated Jun 08 2018

Jacobite member of a monophysite sect taking its name from Jacobus Baradaeus, of Edessa (VI) XIV adherent of James II of England after his abdication, or of his family XVII. f. L. Jacōbus James; see -ITE.


views updated May 17 2018

Jacobite a supporter of the deposed James II and his descendants in their claim to the British throne after the Revolution of 1688. Drawing most of their support from Catholic clans of the Scottish Highlands, Jacobites made attempts to regain the throne in 1689–90, 1715, 1719, and 1745–6, finally being defeated at the Battle of Culloden.

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