The Stuarts in Italy, 1719-1766, A Royal Court in Permanent Exile by Edward Corp is a superbly researched and wonderfully detailed account of the Stuarts in exile during the period between James Francis Edward Stuart being obliged to leave France for Italy following the Treaty of Utrecht between France and England, and his death in Rome on 1 January 1766. The book is intended primarily for an academic audience, but it is extremely well written in a readily accessible style which makes it an engaging and extremely informative read for anyone wanting to know more about the monarch Great Britain never had, James III of England and VIII of Scotland.
Readers (and writers) of Scottish histories are used to thinking of the Stuarts after the arrival of William and Mary in 1689 as hidden from view: only appearing, in spirit or in person, fleetingly during the Jacobite uprisings of 1689, 1715, 1719 and most notably 1745. Edward Corp is Professor of British History at the University of Toulouse and has previous written an account of the Stuarts in exile in France between 1689 and 1718. His latest work completes the story, and succeeds in bringing vividly to life the royal court of a man recognised as the legitimate king of these islands by The Kings of France (intermittently) and Spain; and, most importantly, by a succession of popes who effectively bankrolled the court.
One of the main reasons the portrait of the Stuart court and family is so detailed is because of the activities of a Hanoverian spy in Rome, Baron von Stolsch, who from 1722 until 1757 wrote weekly letters to his paymasters in London setting out the activities of the Stuarts in great detail. It is ironic that with hindsight he effectively provided a diary of the court that would otherwise never have existed. As a result we can see in detail the relationships that James had with successive popes, with many of the cardinals in Rome, and with others in Italian society; the role the Stuart court played as a de facto British embassy in Rome; and James' influence on Italian music and art. We also gain a detailed view of the tensions within the court and the increasingly strained relationship between King James and Queen Clementina, played out in front of an international audience in a way that has a very modern resonance. We also watch as Princes Charles and Henry are brought up to very different destinies, one as a failed insurgent during the 1745 uprising (which happens very much "off stage"), the other as a prominent cardinal.