Monday, January 30, 2012

Remembering Charles I

David Lindsay and Matthew Franklin Cooper have written two excellent blog posts on this, the anniversary of the martyrdom of King Charles I of England. To many people this might seem like a rather unimportant day, just another footnote in European history. However, when one looks at the execution of Charles I as an important step in the West's movement from an imperfect Christendom to the bleak world of liberal capitalism, it is pretty clear why we should remember this day as a grim one.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, John!

    Of course, it's not one of the purposes generally either of Whig historiography or (as David very rightly pointed out in his article) Marxist historiography to present a consistent account of what actually happened, but rather to present a naively unidirectional progression throughout history toward their chosen ideological ends.

    Look forward to reading more from you; always a pleasure!


  2. Hello Matthew,

    Thank you for the kind comments! I am not sure when I will be able to get back to more substantive blogging, but I am hoping sometime in February.

    I agree with you regarding Whig and Marxist versions of history. And they say we are the hopeless romantics!

  3. First in seventeenth-century England and then in the eighteenth-century France that looked to that precedent, gentry-cum-mercantile republican absolutism was an inversion of Jean Bodin’s princely absolutism, itself an Early Modern aberration. But what of the creation of a gentry-cum-mercantile republic in the former American Colonies? Did it, too, ultimately derive from reaction against the Stuarts, inverting their newfangled ideology against them? No, it ultimately derived from loyalty to them, a loyalty which regarded the Hanoverian monarchy as illegitimate.

    Far more Jacobites went into exile from these Islands than Huguenots sought refuge here. The Jacobites founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They maintained a network of merchants in the ports circling the Continent. Their banking dynasties had branches in several great European cities. They introduced much new science and technology to their host countries. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. They fought with the French in India. And very many of them ended up either in the West Indies or in North America. New York seems the most obvious place to look for them, being named after its initial proprietor as a colony, the future James VII and II. The Highlanders in North Carolina spoke Gaelic into the 1890s, but in vain had the rebellious legislature there issued a manifesto in that language a century earlier: like many people of directly Scots rather than of Scots-Irish origin or descent, they remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.

    However, there were many Jacobite Congregationalists, such as Edward Roberts, the exiled James’s emissary to the anti-Williamite Dutch republics, and Edward Nosworthy, a gentleman of his Privy Council both before and after 1688. There was that Catholic enclave, Maryland. And there was Pennsylvania: almost, if almost, all of the Quakers were at least initially Jacobites, and William Penn himself was arrested for Jacobitism four times between 1689 and 1691. Many Baptists were also Jacobites, and the name, episcopal succession and several other features of the American Episcopal Church derive, not from the Church of England, but from the staunchly Jacobite Episcopal Church in Scotland, which provided the American Colonies with a bishop, Samuel Seabury, in defiance of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian monarchy to which it was attached. Early Methodists were regularly accused of Jacobitism. John Wesley himself had been a High Church missionary in America, and Methodism was initially an outgrowth of pre-Tractarian, often at least sentimentally Jacobite, High Churchmanship.

    Paleoconservatives who would rightly locate the great American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that that tradition encompasses the campaign against the slave trade, the Radical and Tory use of State action against social evils, the extension of the franchise, the creation of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars, all arising out of disaffection with Whiggery, with the Whigs’ imported capitalist system, with their imported dynasty, and with that system’s and that dynasty’s Empire, a disaffection on the part of Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish and therefore also American Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.

  4. Hi Mr. Lindsay,

    Thank you for the comment. Always very much appreciated.