20 September 2015

Longest Reign??

Our Head of State has recently been congratulated on becoming our longest reigning monarch, upon surpassing the 63 years and 216 days of Queen Victoria (aka Princess Alexandrina of Saxe Coburg Gotha). Now ... I would not wish to say anything which even seemed discourteous about a lady who is ten times the superior of any of her detractors ...

 ... but among those who have submitted messages of congratulation are the Roman Pontiff and His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. And there is a diverting little historical oddity tucked away here.

From his Accession on September 16 1701 until his demise on January 1 1766, our late Sovereign Lord King James III and VIII was recognised as the Sovereign of the Three Kingdoms by European states which included the Holy See. And it was he who formally nominated the Vicars Apostolic of the London District (whom Cardinal Nichols proclaims, on the brass tablets inside his Cathedral Church, to be his predecessors).

And King James III reigned for 64 years and more than 100 days ... being lazy I won't try to tot up exactly how many days because I'd probably get it wrong by juggling the OS and NS dates clumsily.

But I'm sure that, some time next year, Pope Francis, and Cardinal Nichols, will congratulate the Head of State again, on her surpassing the length of the reign of that august Sovereign who, so far, is the longest reigning British Monarch recognised as such by the Holy See, King James III.

Catholics who truly respect the Papal Magisterium will be expecting this to happen. Surely, all those popes ... Clement XI, Innocent XIII, Benedict XIII, Clement XII, Benedict XIV, Clement XIII ... can't have been wrong about who, in the sight of God (non voluntate hominum sed Dei, as a later Most Eminent King was to put it on one of his medals), was truly our Sovereign?




10 comments:

motuproprio said...

Surely our modern British Roman Catholic Church doesn't let a little historical fact get in the way of her ecumenical diplomacy.

Nous Apeiron said...

Fascinating point of interest. Thanks for sharing it!

Francis Arabin said...

"Non desideriis hominum sed voluntate Dei" - an admirable articulation of the Divine Right of Kings.

Eliseus said...

I am a little confused. Our present Head of State only succeeded his father in 1996. He is a sprightly 82, so may make it to his silver jubilee, at which time I would expect the Cardinal of Westminster to go to the Court at Munich to pay his respects.

Belfry Bat said...

Opinions Prudential (as many, though not all, questions of state surely are) of the Pfx. Max. notwithstanding, I had thought it was quite plain since the mid-1200s that the Monarch was an instrument of Parliament, and not the other way around. To be sure, Parliament was often enough eagerly happy to do everything the King asked, and often enough eagerly happy to acclaim the particular King backed by a sufficiently energetic popular uprising, that doesn't change the constitutional facts. Heck, wasn't there a bloodless Revolution just before the Second World War?

William Tighe said...

"since the mid-1200s"

Can this be serious? Surely no earlier then 1689 (with a revolutionary trial run in the 1640s; and a foreshadowing in the 1580s with the "Bond of Association" with its notion that if Elizabeth I should be assassinated no successor should be priclaimed until a Parliament should meet to determine the succession).

William Tighe said...


"since the mid-1200s"

Can this be serious? Surely no earlier than 1689 - with a revolutionary trial-run in the 1640s, and a foreshadowing in the 1580s in the form of the "Bond of Association," with its provision that if Elizabeth I were to be assassinated no successor would be proclaimed until a Parliament should meet and choose that successor.

Belfry Bat said...

I'm sure you can all remember the Big Paper I'm thinking of; which, even if it isn't used much anymore, affirms positive rights of the assembled Barons over the King — and the important thing is that it was written down! (Pragmatically, the fact that assembled Barons could overpower a King is simply inescapable.) Anyways, the same precedent is the principal reason Lancaster could succeed the living Bordeaux and a subsequent attempt at reversal be called "treason", to say nothing of Tudor succeeding York.

I'm not particularly saying this was a reasonable state of affairs; the second-best justification for primogeniture succession isn't that the firstborn have a particular right to reign or inherit their reign (or are particularly good at it), but rather that the subjects have a particular right to know who shall reign; but even that doesn't help much if the subjects won't be reigned. (A better justification is: the Family, established by God, is the First Foundation of Society.)

Pastor in Monte said...

I was always told that Henry IX bequeathed the crown to the Hanoverians, and directed thereafter that their names were to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Therefore the so-named George IV is actually George I… and so forth. I have seen lay Missals that direct the mention of Victoria in the Canon. It all stopped in her reign, it would seem. But until then, it was usual to pray una cum famulo tuo Gregorio, et Antistite nostro Nicolo, et Regina nostra Victoria. Really not sure what changed that.

Colin Spinks said...

Not quite 64 years 100 days, we lost 10 days in 1752!