It is the 13th of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Sam Leanza Ortiz, filling in for Dan van Voorhis, who is on vacation.
Yesterday, we were mired in the late eighteenth century, and it is to that period we return to remember the Cardinal Duke of York, Henry Benedict Stuart, who died on this day in 1807.
You might not know the Cardinal Duke of York, or Henry Benedict Thomas Edward Maria Clement Francis Xavier Stuart. You are probably familiar with his older brother, "Bonnie Prince Charlie," of Jacobite fame.
*A brief side-bar on “Jacobites” and “Jacobins”- Jacobins were French radicals to the political left who liked cutting off peoples’ heads in the French Revolution. Jacobites were supporters of the Stuart claims to the throne after James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution.*
The younger Stuart was born in 1725 to the "Old Pretender" James Francis Edward and his wife, the Polish Princess Clementina Sobieska. Henry was born in Rome, where the Stuarts lived in exile after being deposed in the Glorious Revolution in England.
Henry was not the charismatic character that his older brother was; rather, accounts notate his quiet piety that nurtured a deep love of music.
Despite their personality differences, Henry was loyal to his brother until Charles died in 1788. While Henry's support for the Jacobite cause remains disputed, Henry briefly assumed a naval command at Dunkirk in 1745, awaiting his brother's orders to invade England.
When news of the routing at Culloden reached Henry in 1746, it seems that he largely gave up the Jacobite cause in favor of a life lived in service to the church. I say largely here because we will see him pick this up again in his later years.
Henry returned to Rome in 1747 and was ordained as a Cardinal Deacon in June of that year, receiving ordination as a priest in 1748. Henry’s abrupt entrance into the Catholic Church created a rift between him and his brother, Charles, as the Stuarts’ Catholicism hung like the proverbial albatross on the Jacobite quest for power.
Henry’s dedication to Rome and royal lineage carried him upwards in terms of fame and fortune. He was influential in the Roman art scene, serving as patron to some of the day's leading composers.
At the Vatican, he served a term as the treasurer of the College of Cardinals, which now a defunct position that was once served in relatively short, 1–2-year terms.
After this term, he became the Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, where he spent most of his remaining years. There, he gained notoriety for his charity, piety, and patronage of literary and art figures –– such that Frascati remains an artistic center in Italy to this day.
The latter years of Henry's life were fraught with frustration, if not outright tragedy. His brother Charles's poor life decisions, including alcoholism and a hasty marriage to a much younger princess, caused more tension between these brothers.
However, it seems the two reconciled before Charles's death in 1788, as Henry conducted the funeral mass and arranged for his burial in Frascati and later moving the body to the Vatican.
Upon Charles’s death, Henry’s Jacobite sympathies emerged once more as he was the rightful king, per his family’s political cause.
In a stinging blow, the Vatican recognized George III as the legitimate king of Britain. And at this, Henry realized that his place as Henry IX was all but dead. Instead of a king, he styled himself from then on as the Cardinal Duke of York.
In the 1790s, Henry found himself in the path of the French Revolution, as he conducted a funeral mass in Frascati for the deceased Louis XVI.
When the revolution gave way to the Bonaparte regime, Henry was really in trouble. Bonaparte's march on Rome forced Henry to flee to southern Italy. This left his fortune to be plundered by the French army, which they did, leaving Henry in financial ruin.
His final years were years of reconciliation with enemies, new and old. In 1799, with any Jacobite threats settled by the Vatican’s recognition, Henry was able to secure some favor from the British government, including a sorely needed pension approved by King George himself.
While he may never have had the chance to reconcile with Napoleon himself, Henry was able to return to Frascati as the French relented on papal lands. And it is there that he spent the remainder of his years until his death on this day in 1807, born in 1725, he was eighty-two years old.
The last word for today comes from Psalm 150, the first two verses:
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens![a]
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 13th of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie.
This episode was written and read by Sam Leanza Ortiz.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.