Protest of King James III and VIII against the Claims of the House of Hanover, August 29, 1714
A printed version of the text can be found on pages 69 - 72 of The Legitimist Kalendar for the Year of Our Lord 1895, edited by the Marquid de Ruvigny and Raineval (London: Henry & Co., 1895).
JAMES III, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., to all kings, princes, and potentates, and to all our well-beloved subjects, greeting.
In the conjuncture equally extraordinary and important, where our hereditary right to the Crown of England is most unjustly violated, and in which the sovereign princes of Europe are also so strongly interested; we could not remain silent, without failing in our duty both to ourself and to those whom it concerns.
It is known to everyone that by the Revolution of 1688 the English monarchy was overthrown, and that by it a commencement was made to lay the foundations of a republican government by means of the attribution to themselves of the sovereign power by the people, when they, assembled together without any authority, pretended to constitute themselves into a Parliament, and arrogated to themselves the right to depose and to elect their kings, against the fundamental laws of the country, in despite of the most solemn oaths by which Christians are capable of being bound. It also cannot be ignored that the late King our Father of glorious memory suffered by this most unjust and violent revolution. After his death the succession to the Crown that the Prince of Orange had usurped passed legitimately to us according to the fundamental laws of the state. We claimed our rights by our declaration, sealed with our seal, dated the 8th October, 1701; and a soon as it shall please the divine providence to place us in a position to undertake their recovery, we shall use all diligence and just efforts that nothing shall be wanting on our part, so that no one shall be able to impute to Us the bad success of this expedition.
After having been apprised that a peace was being negotiated, and that in the treaty which was on the point of being concluded, no respect had been paid to our rights, we published our protestation from Saint Germain-en-Laye, dated the 25th April, 1712, in the most solemn and the most authentic manner that the state in which we were then placed permitted to us, sustaining our incontestable right to our crowns, and protesting against all to our prejudice stipulated in the said treaty.
Although since that time we have been obliged to quit France, and to retire into a more distant country, we have not lost sight of our Kingdoms and our peoples, persuaded that sooner or later it will please God to render justice to us and to recall our subjects to the obedience which they owe to us, and to re-establish us upon the throne of our fathers; and we have not ceased to hope that, in spite of the revolt declared by some and the forced engagements of others, the God of Lights will open their eyes, and will convince them, not only of the evident injustice which is done to us and to the Crown, but also of the dangerous consequences which will result against themselves. It is not our interest only which makes us act thus; the natural and unutterable love which we have for our people is such, that as we cannot see without sorrow their blood and their treasures squandered in the last was in opposition to our indubitable right; so also we cannot but resent with extreme affliction their being liable to be subjected to an arbitrary power, and to become the prey of strangers.
Moreover, the Elector of Brunswick is one of the most distant of all our relations, and consequently one of the last of those who can after us lay claim to our Crowns. Besides, it is evident that nothing is more contrary to the maxims of England than to have established with so much injustice the succession in the house of a prince who is a foreigner, so powerful and absolute in his states that he has never experienced the least contradiction on the part of his subjects; a prince who has no knowledge of our laws, our customs, our manners, our language; moreover, who is sustained by a numerous army of his own subjects, supported by the assistance which a neighbouring state is obliged to give him when he is in need of it; and favoured by several thousands of strangers, refugees in England, for more than thirty years, who will be devoted to him on all occasions.
Moreover, what can our subjects have to face but wars and infinite divisions which will necessarily follow the reversal of a law so sacred and so fundamental as that of hereditary right, which, up to this time, has always been maintained against the like usurpations even when they have had the greatest success; however long they may have lasted, the government could not remain in tranquillity until it had been replaced upon its ancient and solid foundation.
It is also necessary to consider the great number of those whose rights after us, and before the House of Hanover are as clear and also as unquestionable as our own. Ought it not to be borne in mind that they lack neither the will nor the power to assert their rights each in his turn, and to sustain an eternal war against our Kingdoms, which would unfailingly be accompanied by civil war which will be the inevitable consequence of the intestine divisions which disturb them.
Nothing then is more evident than that our people will never know the enjoyment of lasting peace and happiness until the re-establishment of the succession in the direct line by recalling Us, the immediate and legitimate heir, and the sole Englishman by birth remaining in the Royal Family. It is for this that we have waited, because it is the true interest of Great Britain; and we have had reason to hope that a nation, which wants neither wisdom nor prudence, would provide itself with so good an opportunity for its security as our restoration, which we prefer to owe to its good will, rather than to the consequence of a war for which the justice of our cause would not be able to console us because of the sorrows it would inflict on our Kingdoms.
But why risk all these troubles when it is known, or at least to the sell-disposed it can be known, in all the nation the reiterated and irrevocable assurances that we have given, signed with our hand, that when it shall please God to re-establish us upon the throne, the laws of the country will be the rule of our government; that We will accord a general amnesty to our subjects for all that has been done against the laws; and that we will give all the surety and satisfaction they may desire for the preservation of their religion, of their rights, liberties, and properties.
Nevertheless, all these advances on our part have been of no avail; for after the decease of the Princess, our sister, whose good intentions in our favour were well known to us, and had caused our inaction during recent years, and which could not be carried out in consequence of her sudden death; it has happened against our expectations that our peoples instead of profiting by this favourable opportunity to put everything in order, and to co-operate with the veritable interests of the Realm by rendering justice to Us and doing justice to themselves; have without delay proclaimed for their king a foreign prince to our prejudice against the fundamental laws of the hereditary right of the Crown which no known Act can justly abrogate.
Injustice and violence having thus come to their height we have thought it due to our duty, to our honour, and to an indispensable obligation which we owe to ourself, our posterity, and our peoples to use all our efforts to sustain our rights in the best manner open to us. This is the reason that upon the first advices we received of the state of affairs, we quitted our ordinary residence to betake ourself to some place in our states with the intention of placing ourself at the head of those of our faithful subjects who were disposed to sustain our rights, and with us to oppose themselves against all the forces of the foreign invasion; but wishing to pass through France for our embarkation, not only was all assistance refused us in consequence of the engagements which had been contracted in the late treaty of peace; but also opposition was offered to our passage, so much so that we were obliged to return to Lorraine.
In such an afflicting mischance, and in the midst of the obstacles We have encountered on all sides, our consolation is that we have at least done all that was in our power to accomplish our just ends, and that we have nothing to reproach ourself with; but as our cause is the cause of justice itself, we hope that Providence, when it shall see fit, will give us the means to sustain it, that God will at length touch the hearts of our subjects with true repentance for the crying injuries we have received from them, and that they will be animated with a desire to return to their duty.
If affairs remain in this bad plight, ought not all the princes and potentates who are present at peace to reflect seriously on the dangerous example which is before their eyes; several amongst them ought to fear the union of the forces of England with those of the States of the Elector of Hanover, of which the exorbitant power will accord but little with the balance of Europe for which they have fought all through the last war. It is then with justice, and conformably to their true interests, that we demand for the recovery of our rights, their assistance, that they honour, as well as their interest, obliges them to accord us as much as is in their power.
For the rest in this sad conjuncture where all has failed us, that which cannot be taken from us is the liberty with which we declare in the face of all the world that as our right is inalienable, we are resolved, by the help of God, never to give it up with life.
This is why we protest again solemnly by these presents, and in the most strong manner that is possible to us against all kinds of injustice committed against us, our legitimate heirs and successors. We reserve and preserve by these presents, signed with our hand, and sealed with our Great Seal, all our rights and pretensions which remain and will remain in their full force, declaring that hereafter we shall not hold ourself responsible before God or before men for all the pernicious consequences that this new usurpation of our Crowns will call down upon our subjects and upon all Christendom.
Given at our Court at Plombieres, the 29th day of August, 1714, in the thirteenth year of our reign.
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