The 1688 Glorious Revolution replaced James II and VII with his Protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William, who ruled as joint monarchs of England, Ireland and Scotland. Neither Mary, who died in 1694, nor her sister Anne, had surviving children, which left their Catholic half-brother James Francis Edward as the closest natural heir. To ensure a Protestant monarch, the 1701 Act of Settlement excluded Catholics from the succession and when Anne became queen in 1702, her heir was the distantly related but Protestant Sophia of Hanover. Sophia died in June 1714 and when Anne followed two months later in August, Sophia's son succeeded as George I.
, chief minister of France 1723 to 1743; he viewed the Jacobites as an ineffective weapon for dealing with British power
Louis XIV of France, who had been the Stuarts' main backer, died in 1715 and his successors needed peace with Britain in order to rebuild their economy. The 1716 Anglo-French alliance forced James to leave France; he settled in Rome on a Papal pension, making him even less attractive to the Protestants who formed the vast majority of his British support.
Rebellions in 1715 and 1719 failed, the latter so badly its planners concluded that it might "ruin the King's Interest and faithful subjects in these parts." Senior exiles like Bolingbroke now accepted pardons and returned home or took employment elsewhere and while many remained sympathetic, the Stuart cause seemed at an end. The birth of his sons Charles and Henry helped maintain public interest but by 1737, James was "living tranquilly in Rome, having abandoned all hope of a restoration."
In the 1730s, French statesmen began to see the post-1713 expansion of British commercial strength as a threat to the European balance of power and looked for ways to reduce it. A Stuart restoration would be expensive, risky and of little value, since they were unlikely to be any more pro-French than the Hanoverians.[a] A low level, ongoing insurgency was far more cost-effective and the Scottish Highlands an ideal location, due to the feudal nature of clan society, their remoteness and terrain; but as many Scottish Jacobites recognised, they could also be devastating for the local populace.
The 1737 Porteous riots
in Edinburgh reflected opposition to the loss of political power following Union
An opportunity was provided due to unhappiness with the London government, resulting in the 1725 malt tax riots and 1737 Porteous riots. In March 1743, the Highland-recruited was posted to Flanders, contrary to an understanding their service was restricted to Scotland and led to a short-lived mutiny. However, mutinies over pay and conditions were not unusual and the worst riots in 1725 took place in Glasgow, a town Charles noted in 1746 as one 'where I have no friends and who are not at pains to hide it.'
In 1739, disputes with Spain over British trade with the Americas led to war
Trade disputes between Spain and Britain led to the 1739 War of Jenkins' Ear, followed in 1740–41 by the War of the Austrian Succession. The long-serving British prime minister Robert Walpole was forced to resign in February 1742 by an alliance of Tories and anti-Walpole Patriot Whigs, who then did a deal that excluded the majority of their Tory partners from government. Furious Tories such as the Duke of Beaufort now asked for French help in restoring James to the British throne.
While war with Britain was clearly only a matter of time, Cardinal Fleury, chief minister since 1723, viewed the Jacobites as unreliable fantasists, an opinion shared by most French ministers. One exception was the Marquis D'Argenson; when Fleury died in January 1743, Louis XV took control of government and appointed him foreign minister in November 1744.