The Warming Pan Scandal

In the summer of 1688, Mary of Modena, queen to James II, gave birth to a son, James Francis Edward Stuart. This boy was the heir to the throne and his birth was celebrated by many in the country. But others were less happy about the new arrival, seeing it as ushering in the prospect of a permanent Catholic dynasty in Britain. In numerous scandalous pamphlets and prints, the royal baby was presented as an imposter, a fraudulent child smuggled into the queen’s bedchamber in a warming pan. In this film Dr John West and Professor Paulina Kewes discuss the impact of this scandal on politics and culture in 1688.

Key Questions

  • What was the Warming Pan Scandal?
  • Through what different media was the scandal reported?
  • How far was the birth of the prince a cause of the 1688-89 Revolution?

Further Reading

  • Tim Harris, Revolution: The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy, 1685-1720 (London: Penguin, 2006)
  • John McTague, ‘Anti-Catholicism, Incorrigibility, and Credulity in the Warming Pan Scandal of 1688-9’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 36 (2013), 433-448.

Unless otherwise noted, images in this film are reproduced by courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

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