GILLRAY, 'CONSEQUENCES OF A SUCCESSFUL FRENCH INVASION' , INK AND WATERCOLOUR, 1798
- James Gillray
- ‘Consequences of a successful French Invasion... or... We fly on the wings of the wind to save the Irish Catholics from persecution’
‘Images of Power: From the Jeffrey Archer Cartoon Collection', Monnow Valley Arts, 3 September - 30 October 2011; 'The Long Nineteenth Century: Treasures And Pleasures', Chris Beetles Gallery, March-April 2014, No 20; ‘Great British Drawings’, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 26 March-31 August 2015
Of the other completed plates in the Consequences of a Successful French Invasion, ‘We Explain de Rights of Man to de Noblesse’ depicts the defilement of the House of Lords, ‘We Come to recover your long lost Liberties’ depicts the enslavement of the House of Commons, whilst ‘We teach the English Republicans to work’ shows English prisoners being forced to plough a field.
‘We Fly on the Wings of the Wind to Save the Irish Catholics from Persecution’ represents what it was believed the French would do to the Roman Catholic Church in England and Ireland. Before the Revolution began, the Roman Catholic Church in France held approximately 10% of the kingdom’s land and was exempt from paying tax to the government, causing a great amount of resentment. On 12 July 1790 the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed, turning the clergy into employees of the state. This established an election system for priests and bishops, which many Catholics objected to because it effectively denied the authority of the Pope. In November 1790, the French National Assembly began to require an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution from all members of the clergy. This led to a schism in the church as only 24% of clergymen took the oath. The high level of refusal led to legislation against the clergy and many were exiled, deported or executed as traitors. During ‘The Terror’, extreme de-Christianization ensued, including imprisonment and massacre of priests and the destruction of churches and religious images.