The Corner

Jacobitism

From a reader:

Jonah-

Just out of your curiosity, why exactly are you defending Jacobitism? Are you suggesting that the outsting of a Catholic Francophile absolutist Stuart monarchy and the erection of constitutional monarchy with its concommitant bill of rights and the 1689 Toleration Act were somehow historical missteps? Not to mention the revolutionary shift in political economy away from the state-centered monopolistic crony capitalism of the later Stuarts toward something approximating a free-market system on the ‘Dutch model’? This is not to be unduly Whiggish about British history, but James II was a bigot and an absolutist who pattered his brief administration on Louis XIV (after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes). The current historiography has, I think, rendered the idea that Toryism = Jacobitism as something of a myth; the earliest Tories of the Exclusion crisis and the post-Revolutionary period were more concerned about the autonomy and supremacy of the Church rather than the monarchy (cf. Mark Goldie’s essays). Is this just some dim ghost in the basement of modern conservatism or are you actually defending the massive state apparatus, religious intolerance and anti-market political economy of the later Stuarts? Not to draw any kind of moral equivalence between the historical periods represented, but why is this dreary, poorly thought out romanticization any less inimical to the professed tenants of modern conservatism than Trent Lott’s?

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