Manifesto of King James II to the Protestant Princes, 1697
The following document was published with an unsympathetic commentary in The Late King James's Second Manifesto, Directed to the Protestant Princes, Answered Paragraph by Paragraph, London: Printed for Richard Baldwin, 1697 (Wing J386, Wing L552). The publisher of this work and of another similar manifesto addressed to the Catholic princes himself says that he "questioned at first the truth of these two manifestos and suspected that they might be the product of some enemies of the late King, ... but having made a due enquiry into that matter, I found that they are authentic, and owned by King James and his party."
That King James issued a manifesto in 1697 is clear; I have not been able to verify that the one presented here was indeed issued by King James.
A summary account of the reasons which ought to oblige the Protestant Princes and States to contribute to the restoration of His Britannic Majesty.
The reasons which engaged the King of Great Britain to direct a memorial to the Catholic confederate Princes do oblige him likewise to direct another to the Protestants engaged in the same cause. His Majesty being so far from looking upon them as irreconcilable enemies, who cannot take any manner of concern in his just complaints of all the divine and human laws violated in his person, that he is persuaded that though the zeal for the Protestant religion has brought those princes into the engagements they are now under, and that they may endeavour to justify themselves upon that specious pretence, yet there is not one of them but acknowledges that the Protestants are equally concerned in all that was said to the Catholics.
The Decalogue, the observation of oaths, the obedience due to the lawful sovereigns and laws of each country, are obligations common to all Christians, and even to barbarous nations; and since the famous Confession of Augsburg to these late times, no Protestant society, except the fanatics, durst deny these articles. All the Protestant churches agree that it is not lawful to take the name of God in vain and violate the oaths to which he has been called to witness, that parents are to be honoured, and the Scriptures, which they own for the only rule of their faith and of their morals, do teach them that not only such who commit great crimes, but also such who approve and countenance them, cannot be partakers of the Kingdom of God. It is notorious then in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and other hereditary Protestant countries, that they were never suffered to preach any doctrine concerning the obedience due to sovereigns and to laws, different from that which has been constantly maintained and asserted in England except during the Revolutions; from whence it follows that the Protestant princes are by the principles of their own religion obliged to acknowledge that all the vain pretences the Prince of Orange has made use of to colour his usurpation are as contrary tot he maxims of the religion they profess as to the Catholic.
They must also agree that the consequences that may be drawn from so pernicious an example are no less dangerous to them that to the Catholics, and especially to the Protestants of Germany. For if treaties confirmed by the most sacred oaths, a solemn recognition of neighbouring princes by their embassies, letters, and other public acts, are insignificant, no prince can be sure to enjoy peacably their state and to transmit it to their posterity. It is upon the public faith of such acts that most of the Protestant princes of Germany enjoy vast territories formerly belonging to the Church, the possession whereof was confirmed to them by the Treaties of Westphalia. Now if an emperor, powerful and ambitious, should, under pretence that these usurpations were made against the fundamental laws of the Empire, and that the popes have protested against those last treaties, go about to annul and revoke the particular capitulation made by him, as contrary to the laws of the Empire, and the original contract between his predecessors and the deprived churches, it is certain that he would be better grounded than all the Protestant princes have been in countenancing the pretended abdication of His Majesty, and the consequences drawn from it to declare the throne of England vacant and give it to a foreigner, the hereditary succession being ancienter in England than in the electorates and other dominions of Germany.
Those Protestant princes and states cannont deny but they have owned the King of Great Britain upon his accession to the throne and that they complimented him by their ministers, treated with him, and congratulated him upon the birth of the Prince of Wales. It is known also that these are the most solemn acts that may be transacted between crowned heads, and the strongest engagements that may be amongst men. How then will these princes justify what ethey have done against His Majesty in confederating themselves with his enemy against the faith of all their treaties without any previous declaration of war, nay without any subject of complaint seeing they have made none since the Revolution, and that the treaties between them and England are the very same that were concluded with King Charles, which shows how religiously they were observed by His Majesty and that they have had no pretence to infringe them.
But supposing His Majesty had given them some reason to break those treaties, what had the Prince of Wales the presumptive heir of the crown done to forsake him as they did, since according tot he form of all treaties transacted between crowned heads, their posterity, heirs, and successors are therein included? Is it that they will make the world believe they are persuaded that he is suppositious? A calumny so foolish and extravagant that those who advanced it have not dared to bring it to a judicial examination as the Prince of Orange promised in his Declaration. It is not believed that any of those princes have looked upon that chimera otherwise than the highest degree of impudence and wickedness; however, they have acted as if they were really persuaded of its reality, and by so doing have set up an example, the consequences whereof may be dangerous to all crowned heads. For if an ambitious prince can make any considerable party within a kingdom and stregthen himself with some alliances from abroad, will he not be as well grounded to dispute and claim the supreme authority, not only to the prejudice of the presumptive heirs, but even to the princes in the actual possession of the crown in maintaining that they are suppositious? And there is none against whom one may not produce stronger proofs than those expected against the Prince of Wales; for perhaps there is no prince who was born in the presence of so many witnesses. What could a prince do for himslef in such a case to prove his legitimacy; but to say that it was notoriously known that the Queen was with child, that she was brought to bed of a son, that public rejoicings were made through the kingdom upon that occasion, as also compliments and congratulations from foreign princes, both by letters and their ministers. These are the circumstances that attended the birth of the Prince of Wales, which the Protestant princes count for nothing at all, since none has publicly undertaken to disown so black an injustice, nor propose any expedient to endeavour to make satisfaction for it; though it may be easy and natural to guess that no expedients would be accepted.
It is true that they at first spread abroad some false reports of the secret treaties His Majesty was entered into with the Catholic princes for the destruction of the Protestant religion; but there is nobody but owns the falsity of that accusation, since the enemies of His Majesty have dound no proof of any measures taken with His Most Christian Majesty for that design, though the papers of the offices of the Secretaries of State are in their possession these eight years since. The usage His Majesty has met with from the other Catholic princes who have forsaken him, and that unconcerned ness they have shown for the affliction of their common mother, are a sufficient proof that His Majesty had not formed any design against the Protestants in conjunction with them, since they were so intimately united even before His Majesty came to the throne.
It seems then that it would be more honourable and advantageous to the Protestant princes to think of remedying and stopping so many misfortunes and calamities brought upon Europe by the usurpation of the Crown of England, than to endeavour to confirm it more strongly by a treaty, the project whereof, as it is conceived, is as unjust as its original. If the Catholic princes are inexcusable, because of the share they have indirectly had in this design, the Protestants are not more justifiable, seeing the divine and human laws common to all Christians condemn such invasions. And if the present greatness and power of the Prince of Orange has inspired the Protestants with some sentiments different from their former, they ought to consider that that power is onlyl grounded on the life of a man, after whose death the crown is to pass into other hands and another family, even though all the imaginary laws to settle the succession might subsist. But after so many examples that the history of England affords us, there is all the reason in the world to believer that the nation will return to its ancient laws and rue masters, as it has twice done within 37 years past; for it may be supposed that the last revolution, proceeding fromt he same principle as the former, and grounded likewise on the subversion of the laws, will also have the same issue. Then Protestants will be made sensible of the inutility of the treaties transacted with an usurper, as it happened in relation to those concluded with Cromwell.
These are the reflections that those princes ought to make, and which ought to oblige them to think of better and more solid means to restore peace in Europe, than those they have hitereto proposed, for the said means being grounded on the injustice, which has occasioned all the calamites of Christendom; they must be one time or another prejudicial to those who endeavour to have that injustice confirmed, and so to triumph, after having employed all their forces to make it succeed.
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