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James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (June 10, 1688-January 1, 1766), nicknamed the Old Pretender, was the son of King James II and VII of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his second wife, Mary of Modena. Only months after James Francis Edward’s birth, his Catholic father was deposed and exiled in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James II’s Protestant elder daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William III, became co-monarchs and the Bill of Rights 1689 and Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Catholics from the British throne.


James Francis Edward was raised in Continental Europe and after his father’s death in 1701, he claimed the English, Scottish and Irish crown as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland, with the support of his Jacobite followers and his cousin Louis XIV of France. Fourteen years later, he unsuccessfully attempted to gain the throne in Britain during the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Marriage and progeny

Louise Adélaïde d’Orléans (Mademoiselle d’Orléans), daughter of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, was at one time suggested as a wife for James Francis Edward Stuart, but nothing came of it.

In March 1717, while James was visiting Modena, he became engaged to his cousin Benedetta d’Este, but her father Rinaldo III put an end to the engagement to preserve his relations with Hanover and Great Britain.

On September 3, 1719, James Francis Edward Stuart married Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702–1735), granddaughter of King John III Sobieskiof Poland. The wedding was held in the chapel of the Episcopal Palace in Montefiascone, near Viterbo. By his wife he had two sons:

1. Charles Edward Stuart (31 December 1720 – 31 January 1788), nicknamed “Bonnie Prince Charlie”
2. Henry Benedict Stuart (11 March 1725 – 13 July 1807), a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church

Following his death in 1766, his elder son, Charles Edward Stuart, continued the claim the British crown as part of the Jacobite Succession.

Incidentally, had James Frances Edward reigned as James III-VIII, he would have reigned as one of the longest British monarchs with his reign lasting 64 years, 3 months, 16 days. This would have been about a year longer than Queen Victoria but not as long as the present Queen, Elizabeth II, who has reigned, as of today, 66 years, 4 months, 4 days.