Rare treasures from Rome and the Vatican have gone on display at National Museum of Scotland today, as part of the museum's major Bonnie Prince Charlie & The Jacobites exhibition; the largest exhibition about the Jacobites to be held in the UK in over seventy years.
Three marble grave markers, formerly in St Peter’s Basilica, for Charles Edward Stuart, his younger brother, Henry Benedict and their father, James VIII and III will leave Rome for the very first time, as loans from the Scots Pontifical College. James, Henry and Charles are interred in St Peter’s Basilica, with James being the only king ever to be afforded the honour of burial in the Vatican.
On loan from the Sacristy Museum in Rome is the stunning York Chalice and Paten. The elaborately decorated gold Communion set, inlaid with 130 diamonds, belonged to Charles’ younger brother Henry Benedict Stuart (Cardinal York), who gifted it to the Church. It has never been on display in the UK.These artefacts illustrate the high standing of the Stuarts in Roman society, where they held their exiled courts as Charles grew up.
Paintings, tartan costume, jewellery, books, weapons, rare documents and personal objects owned by the Jacobite kings shed new light on a period which has long captured the popular imagination.
The Stuart story unfolds
David Forsyth, Principal Curator, Medieval and Early Modern Collections at National Museums Scotland, said: “The story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites holds an enduring and at times romantic fascination. Charles Edward Stuart
is actually the final chapter in a story which starts in 1688 with the deposing of his grandfather, James VII and II of England and Scotland, sending the Stuarts into courtly exile.
"And so, as the exhibition shows, whilst Scotland is the battleground, it is in Europe - first France and latterly in Rome - where the Stuart story unfolds over this period, with courts held, honours dispensed, tributes accepted and campaigns planned.
“The 1745 rising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie is the last of five Jacobite challenges for the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland. The Battle of Culloden in 1746 came to mark the end of any serious prospect of the Stuarts reclaiming their kingdoms, but it is not the end of Charles’ story. His father, James VIII and III, lived another 20 years after Culloden, Charles died in 1788, followed by his younger brother Henry in 1807.
"So, as well as being wonderful objects in their own right, these loans enable us to take our visitors to the end of the Stuart story, whilst emphasising the European connections which are central to understanding Jacobitism.”
Bonnie Prince Charlie & The Jacobites exhibition details
Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites
, supported by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers, runs from 23 June to 12 November 2017. Admission is £10 for adults, £8 concessions, £7 children, with free admission for under 12s and National Museums Scotland members. For full ticketing information, visit the exhibition website
(Images copyright Neil Hanna)