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Decision in the Dunes

The red-coated English infantry at Dunkirk ironically held the balance of power between two French political factions in the seemingly endless Wars of the Fronde.

The red-coated English infantry at Dunkirk sarcastically held the stability of energy between two French political factions within the seemingly infinite Wars of the Fronde.

By Roy Morris Jr.

The chilly North Sea surf washed over the boots of the advancing English infantry of Oliver Cromwell’s New Mannequin Military as they tromped by way of the drifting sand dunes throughout the seashore at Dunkirk on the morning of June 14, 1658. Forward of them lay the primary Spanish place, a 150-foot-high hillock commanding the enemy’s proper flank. It was about 10 am, and the tide was going out.

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No order had been given for the English to advance, however the rumored presence of Royalist troops underneath James Stuart, brother of pretender to the throne Charles II, spurred on the veterans of England’s just lately concluded civil struggle. The merest glint of a nobleman’s jewels was cause sufficient for the proud Protestant commoners to assault. That they had crossed the ocean to the Spanish Netherlands a number of weeks earlier to proceed preventing Catholic monarchs, on this case Spanish King Philip IV, who had entered into an unholy alliance with Charles II to revive the English royal to the very throne that Cromwell and his Roundheads had emptied of Charles’s father, Charles I, a decade earlier. It didn’t matter to them that they have been serving a second, at the very least nominally Catholic monarch, French King Louis XIV. Their quarrel was with the Stuarts—and the Stuarts’ was with them.

The Politics of Civil Conflict

A Flemish seashore was an odd place for the final pitched battle of the English Civil Warfare to happen, however no odder than the ever-shifting marriages of comfort among the many numerous English and European factions there that day. To start with, the contending armies have been every commanded by a Frenchman, former comrades-in-arms who already had taken a bewildering number of positions of their nation’s countless spherical of civic disturbances, recognized collectively as La Fronde. Louis’s military was led by Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, the Vicomte de Turenne, a Protestant nobleman who as soon as had fought towards the king within the first Conflict of the Fronde (so named for the kid’s slingshot, or fronde, which had been utilized by insurgent mobs to interrupt out the home windows of royals through the preliminary outbreak of unrest in Paris in 1648). Turenne had been suspended briefly for his half within the revolt, which was much less a spontaneous revolution of the individuals than an assertion of rights by extremely born noblemen, however he quickly repented his actions and was restored to command of the king’s forces in the course of the Second Warfare of the Fronde in 1651.

Opposing Turenne was Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Condé, a cousin of the king who had served with Turenne through the just-concluded Thirty Years’ Struggle. The Nice Condé, as he was referred to as, had remained loyal in the course of the First Fronde, however had turn out to be disgruntled on the king’s seemingly inadequate gratitude and had switched sides in the course of the second rebellion. Arrested and thrown into jail, Condé was launched by Queen Anne, the 13-year-old king’s mom, who was serving as regent till her son reached maturity. Condé, displaying a good quantity of ingratitude himself, instantly declared warfare on the royal household and defeated a loyalist drive at Bleneau. (“It’s too dangerous respectable individuals like us are chopping our throats for a scoundrel,” he advised his defeated counterpart.)

Emboldened by his success, Condé marched on Paris, which had declared itself impartial within the second Fronde, however Turenne’s bigger military penned Condé actually towards the gates of the town in the course of the Battle of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, on July 2, 1652. At actually the final minute, Condé was saved by the actions of a quick-thinking frondeuse named Anne Marie Louise d’Orleans, the fabulously rich Duchesse de Montpensier, who opened the gates for Condé and his males and offered overlaying hearth from the partitions of the Bastille. The duchesse, a cousin each of Louis XIV and Charles II (who had courted her ineffectually as an adolescent), paid for her intervention quickly sufficient. After Louis XIV returned to the town later that summer time, he banished her from his courtroom for the subsequent 5 years.

Fleeing Paris, Condé took his battered military northward into the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium) and provided his sword to Spanish King Philip IV, who had been carrying on his personal desultory warfare towards France for almost 20 years. Philip was glad to have the providers of an skilled basic similar to Condé, and he instantly gave him command of his foremost military within the subject. The Third Fronde, additionally referred to as the Spanish Fronde, started in 1653. For the subsequent 4 years, Condé and Turenne sparred indecisively alongside the largely denuded border between northern France and the Spanish Netherlands. First Turenne, then Condé gained battles at Arras and Valenciennes, respectively. The conflict settled right into a uninteresting stalemate.

In the meantime, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the chief adviser to Louis XIV and his mom at courtroom, labored to cement a shocking new alliance with Spain’s different main enemy of the time, England. The English Protestants, beneath Oliver Cromwell, just lately had thrown off the shackles of hereditary monarchy and chopped off Charles I’s head for good measure. However the pretender to that perilous throne, the late king’s son, Charles Stuart, had escaped to the Continent, the place he met incognito with representatives of his fellow monarch, Philip IV, and urged him to invade England and restore Charles to the throne. In return, Charles promised to return to Spain the wealthy Caribbean island of Jamaica, which Cromwell’s far-ranging navy had seized in 1655 in the course of the clumsily prosecuted marketing campaign often known as the Western Design. Charles pledged to stop additional English encroachment into the New World and to secretly acknowledge the rights of Catholics at residence. He would additionally present, in time, some 2,000 English troops underneath the command of his brother James, the Duke of York, to Philip’s drive.

To Divide Flanders

The red-coated English infantry at Dunkirk ironically held the balance of power between two French political factions in the seemingly endless Wars of the Fronde.

This map exhibits Cromwell’s Parliamentarians and his French allies arrayed towards Spanish and English Royalist forces alongside the dunes of Dunkirk.

Cromwell’s spies had been monitoring the Pretender’s one-man diplomatic efforts from the beginning. Cromwell, for his half, was not too alarmed. Charles, he stated, “is so damnably debauched he would undo us all. Give him a shoulder of mutton and a whore, that’s all he cares for.” Nonetheless, he determined to see Charles’s gamble and lift him a stake. Working underneath the time-tested philosophy that “the enemy of my enemy is my good friend,” Cromwell opened negotiations with the flamboyant Mazarin, who was famend each for the sumptuousness of his gown and for the perfumed pet monkey that he stored habitually at his aspect. In fact, Cromwell cared little extra for French Catholics than he did for the English monarchy—or pet monkeys, for that matter—however he was nothing if not sensible when it got here to energy politics.

To curry Cromwell’s favor, Mazarin expelled Charles and his entourage from Paris. (“You’ll do nicely to place him in thoughts that I’m not but so low, however that I’ll return each the courtesies and the accidents I’ve acquired,” a humiliated Charles stated upon leaving.) Now, within the identify of Louis XIV, he agreed to mount a joint Anglo-French expedition towards Spanish forces within the long-disputed area of Flanders. France would offer a military of 20,000 males, whereas England would contribute 6,000 foot troopers and the facility of the English fleet to blockade and seize the coastal fortresses of Dunkirk, Mardyke, and Gravelines. Afterward, they might divvy up the spoils between them, with England taking title to the primary two cities and France assuming management of the third. As a sop to the Catholic cardinal, Cromwell personally assured freedom of worship for the presumably godless papists in Dunkirk and Mardyke. The settlement can be in impact for one yr solely.

Saying his treaty with the Catholic French, Cromwell gave a number of causes for his exceptional turnaround. The elemental a part of the treaty, he stated, was a secret clause during which each events swore to not shelter or help “the interior enemies” of the opposite. It was not completely clear who such enemies have been, a minimum of from Louis XIV’s viewpoint, in Protestant-controlled England—most of his enemies have been already brazenly arrayed towards him in northern France and the Spanish Netherlands. As for Cromwell, there undoubtedly have been Royalists nonetheless working underground in England, however the Pretender and his brother have been safely, if annoyingly, away on the Continent, they usually have been by definition an exterior menace to his authorities. So, for that matter, was Spain, which Cromwell outlined as “papal and Anti-christian” and castigated for having “espoused Charles Stuart.” That was grounds sufficient for an additional conflict.

Cromwell additional justified the warfare with Spain—or had it justified for him—by depicting England as a righteous avenger of the numerous hundreds of New World Indians who often had been victimized, colonized, and brutalized by the Spanish for the higher a part of two centuries. This level was pushed house forcefully in a pamphlet written by Puritan poet John Milton’s nephew John Philips, who diplomatically devoted the screed to Cromwell. Entitled The Tears of the Indians: Being an Historic and True Account of the Merciless Massacres and Slaughters of Above Twenty Hundreds of thousands of Harmless Individuals, Philips’s work laboriously detailed Spanish abuses from the conquistadors to the current. It was extraordinarily unlikely that any of their victims would ever hear of their far-distant vindication in Western Europe, however it gave Cromwell one other arrow, so to talk, in his quiver of righteousness. He bluntly warned Parliament, “Why, really, your nice enemy is the Spaniard. He’s a pure enemy, by purpose of that enmity that’s in him towards no matter is of God. He hath an curiosity in your bowels.”

A Sluggish Invasion of Flanders

No matter its justifications, the brand new alliance received off to a sluggish begin. In Might 1657, Turenne assumed command of the invasion pressure; Sir John Reynolds led the English contingent. Crossing the border into Picardy, Turenne started a diversionary motion on the inland stronghold of Cambrai. His previous chess associate, Condé, instantly moved towards him. Of the 2, Turenne was characteristically the extra cautious campaigner. He shortly pulled again from Cambrai and consolidated his pressure with the newly arrived English troops at St. Quentin. The six English regiments have been all Protestant, lots of them veterans of their nation’s civil struggle. Underneath the phrases of the Anglo-French treaty, Scots and Irishmen have been precluded from serving on the expedition since they might not be trusted to bear arms towards their coreligionists of the Home of Stuart. For the primary time outdoors of England, the troopers wore the bright-red coats of Cromwell’s New Mannequin Military and adopted the muscular philosophy of Puritan theologian Samuel Rutherford, who maintained, “The factor which we mistake is the need of victory. The need of preventing have been a mark of no grace. With out operating, preventing, sweating, wrestling, heaven isn’t taken.”

Cautious and methodical, Turenne didn’t share his new allies’ thirst for instant righteous battle. Quite than heading instantly for the Flemish ports, he moved inland once more, marching and countermarching by way of Luxembourg in a fruitless try and get Condé to comply with. Cromwell, who was used to a extra direct and aggressive strategy to warfare, grew more and more impatient with the Frenchman’s intricate techniques. He threatened to tug his forces out of the alliance if Turenne didn’t transfer instantly towards the enemy’s coastal positions. Turenne reluctantly agreed, advancing towards Dunkirk in September 1657, by which era sickness and desertion had lowered the English contingent by absolutely one third of its numbers. Cromwell promised to ship reinforcements, siege cannons, and additional provides, and the English fleet mobilized to help their irritating allies. On September 19, Turenne’s military drew up on the outskirts of Mardyke, whose fortifications commanded the most effective harbors on the northwestern coast of Europe.

If Cromwell had grown annoyed on the sluggish developments within the area, he was greater than matched in impatience by the by no means notably affected person Charles II. Exiled to the Flemish backwater of Bruges—recognized regionally as Bruges-la-Morte—the lifeless king’s inheritor obvious continually pressured the Spanish to assist him mount a cross-Channel invasion of England. This was not within the playing cards. Cromwell’s navy just lately had sunk, off the coast of Cadiz, one of many two so-called “silver fleets” that yearly carried again to Spain her ill-gotten booty from the Americas, consigning some 600,000 kilos’ value of treasure to the watery deep. With out that long-awaited inflow of riches, King Philip might barely afford to help himself—his courtroom was stated to be eating on fly-blown horsemeat in Madrid—a lot much less tackle the extra expense of enterprise an amphibious invasion of England in help of a foppish playboy and his swollen retinue of unbearable courtiers.

Charles Prepares his Forces

Undeterred, Charles drew up more and more outlandish invasion plans, starting from a self-led touchdown in Scotland to the assassination of Oliver Cromwell by a former ally, Edward Selby, whose prickly character had gained him the not solely admiring nickname, “the Agitator.” Selby fatally compromised his scheme by authoring a 1657 pamphlet brazenly advocating Cromwell’s violent removing. Giving his work the exculpatory title, Killing No Homicide, Selby impudently devoted it to Cromwell, declaring him “the true father of your nation; for when you reside we will name nothing ours, and it’s out of your dying that we hope for our inheritances.” Cromwell, unsurprisingly, was not amused by the guide and Selby was arrested and thrown into the Tower of London, the place he quickly died.

With nothing however time on his palms, Charles continued his plotting, corresponding with a shadowy cabal of English Royalists referred to as “the Sealed Knot” who assured the Pretender that they have been prepared, prepared, and capable of rise at his command. Elaborate plans have been made, perfected, and discarded, and a standing supply from Charles of 500 kilos a yr for all times to anybody who might kill Cromwell went unclaimed and unfulfilled. In the meantime, the would-be monarch wined and dined King Philip’s illegitimate son, Prince Juan-Jose, who had assumed workplace as governor-general of the Spanish Netherlands. Charles went to live shows, balls, and events together with his new good friend, and the 2 found a mutual ardour for tennis. Not lacking a trick, Charles had one in every of his students draw up a horoscope for the astrology-minded Juan-Jose that flatteringly predicted a crown in his future. However Juan-Jose, like his father, suffered from a notable lack of funds, and despite the fact that Charles alternately wheedled or raged about his “scurvy utilization” by the hands of his younger host, he might do nothing concrete to impact an invasion. Annoyed by the penurious insurance policies of Juan-Jose’s monetary adviser, Don Alonso de Cardenas, Charles took to calling the latter “Don Satan.”

The red-coated English infantry at Dunkirk ironically held the balance of power between two French political factions in the seemingly endless Wars of the Fronde.

Siege de Dunkerque’. Color lithograph based mostly on illustration by Paul Dufresne.

Charles had higher luck appearing on his personal, personally elevating new forces for the Spanish military. Responding to his name, Royalist forces serving within the numerous French armies rallied to his colours at Bruges. From the coming troops Charles shaped 5 regiments—one Scots, one English, and three Irish. His brother James was named lieutenant common and general commander of the brand new drive, from which originated the 2 longest-lived regiments within the trendy British Military: the Grenadier Guards and the Life Guards. Cromwell’s spies shortly introduced him phrase of the Pretender’s troop-raising, however the Puritans weren’t notably involved. “Of all of the armies in Europe there’s none whereby a lot debauchery is to be seen as in these few forces which the stated King hath gotten collectively,” wrote one observer. “Fornication, drunkenness and adultery have been esteemed no sin amongst them.”

The Irish, particularly, have been singled out for being “higher versed within the artwork of begging than preventing.” In that case, it was a fortunate talent for them to have, because the English troopers in Bruges have been on the very finish of the Spaniards’ meals and provide chain. Of necessity, Spanish troops have been quartered at numerous places within the Netherlands to stop them from overdrawing a specific area’s assets. The English, congregated at Bruges, did simply that, swarming throughout the countryside, menacing native residents, and at one level even robbing a Catholic church of its gold plate. They referred to as themselves, with out exaggeration, “the bare troopers.” In addition to going hungry—typically they ate canine, if they might get them—the English lacked even the footwear on their ft. Ailing fed and sick clothed, they coughed and shivered by way of the damp Flemish winter. At Damme, on the Sluys canal three miles from Bruges, Charles narrowly escaped demise by the hands of a panicky sentry who unloosed a spherical of buckshot on the approaching get together. Charles dodged the hearth on the final immediate, however two of his courtiers have been barely wounded. All questioned if it was actually an accident.

Lastly, on September 21, 1657, Turenne’s Anglo-French forces overran the entrenchments outdoors Mardyke and captured the city. By earlier settlement, each the fort and the harbor have been turned over to English management. A month later, Juan-Jose arrived on the scene with a aid pressure that included amongst its quantity Charles himself, who had argued his method into the vanguard. A subsequent Spanish counterattack was simply crushed again by Cromwell’s males, and a Puritan cannonball bounded previous Charles’s head and disemboweled the horse of the officer beside him.

The Pretender, for his half, was unimpressed. It was Charles’s first style of fight since he had led the Royalist military to a devastating defeat at Worcester, in western England, six years earlier. That defeat had necessitated six weeks of nonstop flight, with Charles creeping throughout his putative fiefdom beneath cowl of darkness from attic to outhouse to priest’s gap earlier than he escaped to the Continent. Now he was prevailed upon to not danger the royal personage once more in open fight. He readily agreed, spending the winter at Antwerp, the place he continued corresponding with plotters again in England and raged anew on the reluctance of Juan-Jose to mount an invasion of the island, failing to note that the Channel was swarming with Cromwell’s blockaders. The Spaniards, he stated, “had grossly failed in all their enterprise to ship the King into England.”

Charles’s solely success—nevertheless minor—was in engaging a few of the Protestants within the Mardyke garrison to abandon to the royal normal. “You Cavaliers should wants snigger in your sleeves at our dissensions, and the wrestle there’s amongst us, who shall have the federal government, and promise your King, not with out cause, nice benefits from our disagreement,” one disgruntled Cromwellian informed his new comrades. That autumn the English commander at Mardyke, Sir John Reynolds, met ill-advisedly with James, the Duke of York, at an off-the-cuff parley between the strains. The 2 generals exchanged mere civilities, however Reynolds’s fellow officers have been so suspicious of his contact with a member of the despised royal household that he felt compelled to return to England to elucidate himself to Cromwell in individual. On December 5, the ship carrying Reynolds residence wrecked on the Goodwin Sands, and he drowned, nonetheless unexplained. He was changed at Mardyke by Maj. Gen. Thomas Morgan, who held no extra conferences with the opposing aspect.

On the Dunes of Dunkirk

After a largely idle winter, Turenne lastly broke camp within the spring of 1658, prodded by Cromwell’s insistence on the seize of Dunkirk as a prerequisite for renewal of the Anglo-French pact for an additional yr. In Might, Turenne mustered his forces at Amiens and set out for Dunkirk on the head of a 25,000-man military. Juan-Jose, alerted to the motion by his spies, someway mistook the enemy’s intentions and strengthened Cambrai as an alternative. The English regiment quartering at Cassel was left unprotected, and Turenne’s forces fell upon it and annihilated the Royalists to a person. Charles’s youngest brother, Henry, Duke of Gloucester, commanded the regiment, however he had had the great fortune to fall unwell a number of months earlier than the shock assault and thus missed, by two years, his date with future. (In September 1660 he would die of smallpox on the age of 21.) Unopposed, Turenne reached the outskirts of Dunkirk in early June and instantly had his males throw up two siege strains, one surrounding the city, the opposite dealing with outward to dam any try and resupply the defenders.

Belatedly realizing his mistake, Juan-Jose hurried to alleviate Dunkirk. He had notably fewer males than Turenne—about 16,000 in all, counting the English Royalists. Including to his issues, the rescuers quickly outdistanced their artillery, which was slowed by the marshy, sandy terrain. However, on the afternoon of June 13, Juan-Jose pulled as much as a crescent-shaped vary of sand hills a number of miles northeast of Dunkirk and commenced deploying his troops in two wings. Condé commanded the left, whereas the Duke of York commanded the proper. Juan-Jose didn’t intend to supply battle till his complete military was in place, however Turenne gave him no selection. For as soon as, the cautious Frenchman moved first. Leaving 6,000 males behind to protect the siege works, Turenne and the remainder of the military swung northward to confront the Spaniards within the sand dunes outdoors Dunkirk. French cavalry deployed on each flanks, and 7 English regiments underneath the command of Lockhart and Morgan massed on the left, supported by hearth from English ships mendacity off within the harbor. Turenne’s forces halted on a low ridge 500 yards from the enemy strains.

The tide was flooding out when Lockhart’s New Mannequin Military troopers moved into place, their pink coats shimmering within the solar. Musketeers and pike males massed collectively whereas the Marquis de Castelnau’s French cavalry skirted their wings. A low, insistent murmur within the ranks swelled to a roar, and the English Protestants all of a sudden broke for the entrance, shouting their acquainted battle cry: “The Lord of Hosts!” Forward of them waited Spanish common Don Gaspar Boniface’s regiment, supported—because the Englishmen knew it might be—by the hated Royalists of the Duke of York. Hand-picked marksmen started peppering the Spaniards with musket hearth as Lockhart led his males up the sandy hillside. The French cavalry swung round to envelop the enemy from the rear.

The red-coated English infantry at Dunkirk ironically held the balance of power between two French political factions in the seemingly endless Wars of the Fronde.

Camp at Dunkirk, France, 1646, considered one of collection of work commemorating actions of Louis II, 1621-86 of Bourbon 4th Prince of Condé as common in Louis XIV’s military.

Startled by the sudden English cost, Turenne recovered shortly and despatched the Marquis de Crequy’s cavalry driving ahead on the allied proper, whereas the remainder of the infantry surged ahead within the middle. In the meantime, Lockhart’s infantry stubbornly climbed the yielding sand dune and pitched headlong into the Spanish defenders. Bitter hand-to-hand fight commenced beneath the broiling Flanders solar. The lads on each side have been battle-tested veterans, the English of their nation’s civil struggle, the Spanish of the Thirty-Years’ Warfare, and the French of the three Wars of the Fronde. They knew how you can struggle.

As soon as once more, spiritual zeal carried the day. Whereas the Nice Condé held his personal on the Spanish left, Lockhart’s Roundheads overwhelmed the dune’s defenders and reformed on the hilltop earlier than dashing down the far aspect. The Duke of York mounted a cavalry cost in reply, however Castelnau’s cavalry obtained into his rear and despatched the entire proper wing of the Spanish military into retreat. On the similar time, both by divine intervention or cautious planning, the tide started dashing again in, making it inconceivable for the Spanish cavalry to counterattack. The Royalists fell again in orderly however hasty retreat. The Irish Regiment made a quick stand within the middle, however Turenne’s bigger drive quickly gained the left flank and rear. Condé, who was an avid card participant, might learn the best way the playing cards have been falling. He withdrew as properly. Turenne and his English allies have been all of the sudden masters of the battlefield.

At a remarkably low value of 400 males, the attacking pressure had killed or captured greater than 10 occasions that quantity. Fortunately for them, a lot of the captured English Royalists have been swept up by French troops; one unlucky sergeant fell into Protestant arms and was hanged on the spot as a traitor. The Duke of York managed to get away—the youthful Stuarts have been proving to be higher at escaping than their father, the late king—and retreated to Nieuport. Ten days later, the garrison at Dunkirk surrendered to Turenne, leaving him in full management of Flanders and the coast. On June 15, King Louis XIV personally handed over the keys of the town to Sir William Lockhart, in recognition of his main position within the Battle of the Dunes.

The Demise of Cromwell

Charles II, ready worriedly at Brussels, received information of his brother’s defeat and headed precipitately to the Dutch border, the place he sought refuge within the elegant little city of Hoogstraten. He was nonetheless there two months later, searching partridges together with his fleet of royal hawks, when phrase arrived from James that Oliver Cromwell, “the good monster,” was lifeless. The Protestant chief had succumbed on September three to a sudden bout of malaria, made worse by overwhelming grief on the dying of his favourite daughter, Elizabeth, a number of weeks earlier. It will take one other 18 months of diplomatic maneuvering earlier than Charles set foot as soon as once more on English soil—no because of the Spanish, who concluded a separate treaty with France in November 1659. Louis XIV instantly cemented the Treaty of the Pyrenees by marrying Philip IV’s 13-year-old daughter, Maria Teresa, and uniting the 2 Catholic nations within the bonds of holy matrimony.

Upon his assumption of the throne, considered one of Charles II’s first acts was to have Oliver Cromwell’s physique disinterred from its place of honor at Westminster Abbey and hanged in chains from the thieves’ gibbet at Tyburn on the twelfth anniversary of Charles I’s execution. The corpse was then beheaded, and Cromwell’s head was caught on a pole outdoors the abbey, the place it remained for the subsequent 20 years, a ghoulish relic of long-delayed, and considerably redundant, royal revenge. For numerous many years, English schoolchildren recited the macabre nursery rhyme: “Oliver Cromwell lay buried and lifeless,/Heigho! Buried and lifeless!/ There grew a inexperienced apple-tree over his head,/Heigho! Over his head!/The apples are dried they usually lie on the shelf,/Heigho! Lie on the shelf!/If you would like e’er a one you will need to get it your self,/Heigho! Get it your self!”

In the long run, the Protestants’ crushing victory within the dunes at Dunkirk had proved as fleeting and impermanent as a toddler’s sand fort on a stormy seashore. In England, as on the Continent, the tides of fortune had shifted but once more, and one other scion of the Home of Stuart sat, nevertheless uneasily, on the English throne.

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