Ward's Book of Days.
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What happened on this day in history.
On this day in history in 1807 died Cardinal Henry Stuart.
Henry was the last of the Stuarts, the grandson of the deposed James II. The Stuarts never gave up their claim to the throne. James II’s son, James Edward the Old Pretender, fomented the 1715 uprising which almost caused the Hanoverian king George I to pack up and flee to Hanover.
James Edward’s son, Charles Edward or Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed in Scotland in 1745 and led a nine-month rebellion, which ended in defeat at Culloden. Prince Charlie escaped due to the heroism of Flora McDonald but did not have the energy or determination to try again. After his death, the claim to the throne fell to his brother Henry.
Henry had been proclaimed Duke of York by his father but, as the younger son, was not expected to succeed to the Stuart claim. He entered the church and in 1747 was created Cardinal of York by Pope Benedict XIV.
Henry then lived in Rome for the remainder of his life. He supported his brother in the 1745 Rebellion by providing troops and used his what influence he had in the church to oppose the Hanoverians. When his brother died in 1788, Henry proclaimed himself King Henry IX.
But when Napoleon invaded Italy, Henry along with other churchmen forfeited his estates. He was kept by a generous stipend from George III until he died in 1807. On the tomb of the Stuarts in The Vatican, Henry is described as Henry IX, King of Great Britain. The tomb, a magnificent work by Canova, was paid for by the British government. When the Stuart coffins had to be reordered in 1936, Henry’s body required a new sarcophagus. This was paid for by King George VI.
In the east window of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, there is a stained glass depiction of Henry’s Coat of Arms. It shows the British Coat of Arms surmounted by a cardinal’s biretta.
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