Monday, November 21, 2011

James VII and Mary of Modena

On the 21st of November, 1673, James Duke of York and Mary of Modena were married in an Anglican ceremony, upon Mary's arrival to England.  From the perspective of a legal marriage, the Anglican ceremony was irrelevant, as the couple had been wed as Catholics two months earlier.  The fifteen year old Mary held some strong opinions on certain topics, as shown in the anecdote Sir Walter Scott  presents in his “Tales of a Grandfather” (vol 50).

‘…The Duke of York, it is said, became aware of the punctilious character of the Scottish nation, from a speech of the well known Tom Dalziel. The Duke had invited this old cavalier to dine in private with him, and with his Duchess, Mary of Este, daughter of the Duke of Modena. This princess chose to consider it as a derogation from her rank to admit a subject to her table, and refused to sit down to dinner if Dalziel should remain as a visiter. " Madam," said the undismayed veteran, " I have dined at a table where your father might have stood at my back." He alluded to that of the Emperor of Germany, whom the Duke of Modena must, if summoned, have attended as an officer of the household. The spirit of the answer is said to have determined James, while holding intercourse with the Scottish nobles and gentry, to exercise as much affability as he could command or affect, which, with the gravity and dignity of his manners, gave him great influence among all that approached his person. He paid particular attention to the chiefs of Highland clans, made himself acquainted with their different interests and characters, and exerted himself to adjust and reconcile their feuds. By such means, he acquired among this primitive race, alike sensible to kind treatment, and resentful of injury or neglect, so great an ascendency, that it continued to be felt in the second generation of his family…’

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