Template:House of Stuart Henry Benedict Cardinal Stuart (March 11 1725 – July 13 1807) was the fourth and final Jacobite publicly to claim the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Unlike his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and brother, Charles Edward Stuart, Henry made no effort to seize the throne. Instead he spent his life in the Papal States serving as Cardinal and Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time of his death he was (and still is) one of the longest serving Cardinals in the Church's history.
In his youth Henry's father made him Duke of York (in the Jacobite peerage), and it was by this title that he was best known. Upon the death of his brother in 1788 Henry became known by Jacobites, and within his personal entourage, as Henry IX, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, although publicly he referred to himself as Cardinal-Duke of York nuncupatus.
Notwithstanding his claim to the throne, Henry was in general a peaceable man, attentive to his duties, well respected and a generous host in Rome to many English and Scottish visitors, both Roman Catholic and Protestant .
Henry Benedict Maria Clement Thomas Francis Xavier Stuart was born in exile at Rome on 6 March 1725 and baptized on the same day by Pope Benedict XIII, 37 years after his grandfather James II of England lost the throne, and ten years after his father's failed attempt to regain it. His father was James Francis Edward Stuart, known to his opponents as "the Old Pretender". His mother was the Princess Maria Klementyna Sobieska, granddaughter of the Polish King, Jan Sobieski III.
Henry went to France in 1745 to help his brother, Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie", or "the Young Pretender") prepare the Jacobite campaign of that year. After its defeat, Henry Stuart returned to Italy. On 30 June 1747 Pope Benedict XIV conferred him with tonsure and created him Cardinal in special consistory held on the 3 July 1747. On 27 August 1747 he was promoted to the four minor orders by the Pope. He received the subdiaconate on 18 August 1748 and diaconate on 25 August 1748. He was ordained priest on 1 September 1748 and consecrated titular Archbishop of Corinth on 2 October 1758.
Cardinal deacon in 1748, he was advanced to the ranks of a Cardinal priest in 1752, and to that of a Cardinal Bishop with the suburbicarian diocese of Frascati on 13 July 1761, and eventually succeeded to the See of Ostia and Velletri on his appointment as Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals on 26 September 1803.
He lived and worked in Frascati for many years, descending each afternoon in his carriage to Rome, where his position as vice-chancellor entitled him to the Palazzo della Cancelleria.
At the time of the French Revolution, he lost his French Royal benefices and sacrificed many other resources to assist the Pope Pius VI. This, in addition to the seizure of his Frascati property by the French caused him to descend into poverty. The British Minister in Venice arranged for Henry to receive an annuity of £4,000 from King George III of Great Britain. Although the English government represented this as an act of charity, Henry and the Jacobites considered it to be a first installment on the money which was legally owed to him. (For many years the British government had promised to return the English dowry of his grandmother, Mary of Modena, but had never actually done so.)
Henry returned to Frascati in 1803. In September of that year he became the Dean of the College of Cardinals and hence Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, though he still lived in the episcopal palace at Frascati. He died there on July 13 1807, aged 82.
Under his will, which he signed as Henry R, he was succeeded in all his claimed British rights by his friend and nearest blood relative, Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy, then the former King of Sardinia and also a Roman Catholic. But Charles never publicly claimed nor renounced his Jacobite rights, nor have any of his successors to this day.
Contrary to popular belief, he did not leave the crown jewels to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV of the United Kingdom. All his property was entrusted to Monsignor Angelo Cesarini for distribution. Cesarini sent the Prince Regent several jewels from Henry's private collection. These included a "Lesser George" (thought to have been worn by King Charles I at his execution, and now at Windsor Castle) and a St Andrew's Cross (now at Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh), which are insignia of the orders of the Garter and the Thistle, and also a ruby ring.
Henry Benedict, his brother, his father and his mother are buried in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. There is a monument to the Royal Stuarts designed by Antonio Canova in the basilica to their memory on one of the columns in the basilica proper. This was restored within living memory at the expense of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
- July 13, 1747 Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Portico
- September 16, 1748 Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Portico
- December 18, 1752 Cardinal Priest of Santi XII Apostoli
- February 12, 1759 Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere
- January 14, 1763 Cardinal Priest of San Lorenzo in Damaso
- July 13, 1761 Cardinal Bishop of Frascati
- September 26, 1803 Cardinal Bishop of Ostia