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When the last and the most significant of the Jacobite uprisings, that of 1745, ended in disaster Prince Henry, the younger brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, was in his early twenties. Almost at once he exasperated his brother and antagonized his followers by accepting a cardinal’s hat. For eighteen years the brothers never spoke to each other and were not reconciled until the Old Pretender’s death in 1766. Then the Cardinal, who had become one of the richest and most splendid of the princes of the Church, a prelate famous for his love of art and for his lavish hospitality, once again took up the Jacobite cause. . Vainly he tried to obtain recognition for his brother as King of England; and he found himself involved, too, in a European scandal when Price Charles’s wife ran off with the poet Alfieri. On his brother’s death Henry Stuart was acknowledged by Jacobites as Henry IX. The outbreak of the French Revolution reduced him to sudden poverty; and when the mob looted his palace he was compelled to flee. In this distress the last of the Stuarts was rescued by George 111; a pension was offered and gratefully accepted; and with the Cardinal’s death in 1807 the tragic history of his House came at last to an end.
Brian Fothergill’s metier was the byways of eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century history.
It is eloquently demonstrated in all his books the following of which are being reissued in Faber Finds: The Strawberry Hill Set, Nicholas Wiseman, The Mitred Earl and The Cardinal King.
‘Brian Fothergill has written a sympathetic study of this gallant old relic, the epitome of 18th century elegance, who came up smiling, and refused to abate a jot of his claims when the world he knew had fallen about his ears.’ Daily Telegraph
‘As a portrait of Henry and as a picture of his age, Brian Fothergill’s The Cardinal King based on new research, is both scholarly and vital, permeated with the quiet humour that makes for sound perspective.’ Birmingham Post
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