Lost Stuarts: From the Essex Rebellion to the Battle of Culloden

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Thursdays, 11.00-12.30, 26 October to 30 November
£8 | £6 concessions and members
Queen's House, Orangery & South Parlours
Queen's House

Covering treason and rebellion, illegitimacy and exile, this lecture series examines the forgotten lives and lost causes of the Stuart dynasty.

26 October: ‘A lost cause? Elizabeth I, the ‘Essex Rebellion’ and the question of the Stuart succession’ – Dr Janet Dickinson, Historian and Lecturer at Oxford University

On the morning of 8 February 1601, a series of incidents took place which resulted in an attempt by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and disgraced royal favourite, to raise the people of London in support of what appeared to be an armed rebellion. Contemporaries responded with fear and bafflement - was this an attempt to seize the crown and to force the succession, placing the crown into the hands of the Stuart monarch, James VI of Scotland? Did Essex seek the throne himself? And what was intended for Elizabeth, queen for over forty years? This lecture will discuss the rebellion and its contexts, considering whether we should take seriously the claim made by the rebels themselves: that their actions were aimed merely at forcing access to the queen so that she could hear and redress their grievances. It will place this claim within the context of Essex’s career to suggest not only that they may have been telling the truth, but also that they could be justified in their belief that such tactics would be successful. In so doing, the talk will cast considerable light on the course of Essex’s career up to this final point and the enigma of his relationship with the queen.


Dr Janet Dickinson specializes in the history of early modern England and Europe. She has published widely on Tudor political culture, the court in Europe and the reign of Elizabeth I, including a book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex. Current projects include a cultural and political history of the Elizabethan nobility and plans for a book on the enduring fascination with the relationship between Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex. She is currently postdoctoral researcher on the Texel shipwreck project: ‘From Maritime Archaeology to Cultural History’, investigating an extraordinary collection of finds which may shed led light on the experience of British royalist exile in Europe. Janet is Senior Associate Tutor at the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford, for whom she has written and teaches two online courses as well as a range of postgraduate, extension and summer school programmes and where her students have three times named her ‘Most Acclaimed Lecturer’ at the University’s Student Union Teaching Awards. She also teaches for New York University in London and serves as Conferences and Events Secretary for The Society for Court Studies. She is co-convenor of the forthcoming conference at Greenwich, ‘Elizabeth I: The Armada and Beyond, 1588-2018’ (April 2018).

2 November: ‘Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales: The Prince who would be King’ – Dr Sarah Fraser, Historian and Biographer

Henry Stuart’s life is the last great forgotten Jacobean taleThe eldest son to James VI of Scotland, James I of England, and Anne of Denmark, Henry was the epitome of heroic Renaissance princely virtue. Educated to rule, Henry was interested in everything. His court was awash with leading artists, musicians, writers and composers such as Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones. He embraced cutting-edge science, was patron of the North-West Passage Company, and wanted to sail through the barriers of the known world to explore new continents. He reviewed and modernised Britain’s naval and military capacity and in his advocacy for the colonisation of North America he helped to transform the world. At his death aged only eighteen, and considering himself to be as much a European as British, he was preparing to stake his claim to be the next leader of Protestant Christendom in the struggle to resist a resurgent militant Catholicism. This lecture will explore the story of a man who, had he lived, might have saved Britain from the reign of his brother Charles I and civil war.


Dr Sarah Fraser is an historian and biographer. Her most recent publication, The Prince Who Would Be King, was published by Harper Collins in 2017. She won the 2012 Saltire First Scottish Book of the Year for her acclaimed debut The Last Highlander, a biography of Lord Lovat, the last of the great Scottish chiefs and the last nobleman executed in Britain for treason. In 2016, the book also became a New York Times ebook bestseller. A writer and regular contributor on TV and radio, she has a PhD in obscene Gaelic poetry and lives in the Scottish Highlands.

9 November: ‘Elizabeth of Bohemia – The Winter Queen’ – Sue Prichard, Senior Curator of Art, Royal Museums Greenwich

Like her brothers Henry and Charles, Elizabeth Stuart (1596–1662) was born in Scotland, the eldest and only surviving daughter of King James and Anne of Denmark. Through marriage to Frederick V, she became Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia. By 1621, however, she was a queen in exile. Beautiful and high-spirited, Elizabeth was also a fluent linguist and extremely literary. Destined to be remembered as ‘The Winter Queen’ – a reference to the brevity of her reign – Elizabeth preferred the more popular title of the ‘Queen of Hearts’. Without a country to call her own, Elizabeth was nevertheless a heroine of Protestant England and a figurehead for Protestantism across Europe, at a time when religious differences and tensions often resulted in political and constitutional crises, international alliances and warfare. Importantly, her grandson, Prince George of Hanover, would succeed to the British throne in 1714 after the death of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch. This lecture will consider Elizabeth’s life and reputation, suggesting ways in which this ‘lost Stuart’ made a significant and lasting contribution to British history and culture.


Sue Prichard is Senior Curator of Fine & Decorative Arts at the Royal Museums Greenwich, with responsibility for the displays and programme of the Queen’s House. Her collection specialism covers costume, uniforms and textiles, folk art, sailor craft, jewellery and silverware. She is the Lead Curator of the Armada Portrait National Programme, following the successful acquisition of this famous portrait of Elizabeth I in 2016, and part of the curatorial team delivering the associated contemporary and historic displays. She was the curator in charge of the Richard Wright art installation in the Great Hall of the Queen’s House for the 400th anniversary project. Between 2001 and 2015 she was a Senior Curator in the Furniture, Textiles & Fashion Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Project Director for the Clothworkers Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles & Fashion and Lead Curator of the major exhibition, ‘Quilts 17002010’, which was held in London and Brisbane. Her publications include Quilts 17002010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories (V&A, 2010), V&A Patterns: The Fifties (V&A, 2009), Henry Moore Textiles (Lund Humphries, 2008).

16 November: 'Prince George of Denmark (1653–1708): The Forgotten Consort’ – Dr Julie Farguson, Lecturer in Early Modern History, St Hilda’s College, Oxford

Younger son of Frederik III of Denmark, and consort to Queen Anne (r. 17021714), history has not treated Prince George of Denmark kindly or fairly. Charles II is reputed to have said of him ‘I have tried him drunk and I have tried him sober and there is nothing to him’, and even today George is often characterised by historians as little more than an ‘amiable but bone-headed gentleman’. Yet Prince George was admired and respected in his own lifetime and was loyal to his wife, emotionally and politically. This lecture will debunk the myths about Prince George to reveal that from his marriage in 1683, when he came to live in England, until his untimely death in 1708, he played an important role in his adopted country.   


Julie Farguson studied History at Hertford College, Oxford, as an undergraduate and graduate student, before moving to St Catherine’s College to take up a doctoral scholarship. Since graduating in 2014 she has held Lectureships at Hertford and St Hilda’s Colleges, and from 1 October 2017 takes up a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford. She is also a Knowledge Exchange Fellow with The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) and Royal Museums Greenwich, working on a project on Prince George of Denmark’s artistic patronage. She is currently developing a new collaborative research project on Danish Royal Consorts in Britain. Julie’s research is centred on the social, cultural and political histories of the early modern Britain, with particular interest in the visual and material culture of monarchy and foreign consorts as agents of cultural transfer. She is in the process of turning her thesis into a book, provisionally entitled Visualising Protestant Monarchy: Art, Ceremony and the British Monarchy after the Glorious Revolution (1689-1714), which takes a fresh look at the way monarchs, consorts and their advisers used ceremony and art as political tools in the decades following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Her broader research interests include British art and architecture (16601800), Anglo-Dutch print culture, and women patrons of the arts. 

23 November: ‘The Last Royal Rebel: The Life and Death of James, Duke of Monmouth’ – Dr Anna Keay, Historian and Director of The Landmark Trust

James, Duke of Monmouth, the adored illegitimate son of Charles II, was born in exile the year his grandfather was executed and the English monarchy abolished. Abducted from his mother on his father’s orders, he emerged from a childhood in the backstreets of Rotterdam to command the ballrooms of Paris, the brothels of Covent Garden and the battlefields of Flanders. Pepys described him as ‘the most skittish, leaping gallant that ever I saw, always in action, vaulting or leaping or clambering’. Such was his appeal that when the monarchy itself came under threat, the cry was for Monmouth to succeed Charles II as King. He inspired both delight and disgust, adulation and abhorrence and, in time, love and loyalty almost beyond fathoming. Louis XIV was his mentor, Nell Gwyn his protector, D’Artagnan his lieutenant, William of Orange his confidant, John Dryden his censor and John Locke his comrade. After a failed rebellion against his Catholic uncle, James II, Monmouth was executed for treason in July 1685. This lecture will trace the dramatic rise and fall of this extraordinary British royal. 


Dr Anna Keay is Director of The Landmark Trust. From 1996 to 2002 Anna worked as a curator for Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House in Whitehall. From 2002 until 2012 she was Properties Presentation Director of English Heritage, responsible for curating and presenting to the public 420 historic sites across England, from Stonehenge to Kenwood House. Her PhD (University of London) focussed on court ceremonial in the reign of Charles II. She is the author of The Last Royal Rebel: The Life and Death of James, Duke of Monmouth (2016).

30 November: ‘Unfortunate Princes: The Stuarts in Exile and the Jacobite Rebellions’ – Dr Jacqueline Riding, Historian, Art Historians and Research Fellow, Birkbeck College, London

By 1745, the son of the deposed James II of England and VII of Scotland, the ‘Old Pretender’ Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, had been living in exile for over 55 years, firstly in France, ‘the support and shelter of unfortunate princes’, and then in Rome. When his son, Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as the Young Pretender, sailed from France to Scotland in July 1745, and with only a handful of supporters to claim the throne for his father, few people within Britain were alarmed. But after he raised the Stuart standard at Glenfinnan in the Western Highlands, destroyed a contingent of the British army at Prestonpans near Edinburgh, and then marched south into England, swiftly reaching Derby, the rising threatened to destabilise the British state, dethrone King George and the Hanoverian dynasty, while disrupting Britain's military capability in Europe and colonial activities in America and beyond.

The reality of the ‘45 continues to be obscured by fiction and myth, as personified by the heroic, gallant but doomed ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ versus the heartless victor, ‘Butcher’ Cumberland. However, in the years 17456 nothing was certain. What emerges is a story more complex, paradoxical and even tragic than the myth suggests. This lecture will discuss the background and progress of the most famous attempt to restore the senior and Catholic branch of the Stuart Dynasty.


Jacqueline Riding read History and Art History at the universities of Leicester, London and York, and has over twenty-five years’ experience working as a curator and consultant within a broad range of museums, galleries and historic buildings, including Wilton’s Music Hall, Tate Britain and Historic Royal Palaces. From 19931999 she was Assistant Curator at the Palace of Westminster and then founding Director of the Handel House Museum, London. Her recent publications include Jacobites: A New History of the '45 Rebellion (2016), and Basic Instincts: Love, Passion and Violence in the Art of Joseph Highmore (2017) which accompanies her exhibition at the Foundling Museum (29 Sept 2017-7 Jan 2018). She is currently writing a book on the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, followed by a major new biography of William Hogarth. She was the consultant historian and art historian on Mike Leigh's award-winning Mr. Turner (2014) and is the historian on his next feature film, Peterloo.

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