Jacobitism was the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James II of England and IIV of Scotland, and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The movement took its name from Jacobus, the Latinised form of James<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, The Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, (Birlinn, 2007) 162</ref> and refers to a series of Jacobite risings between 1688 and 1746 as well as the culture of loyalty to the deposed monarchs and their political and religious ideologies. The term was used pejoratively by their enemies. <ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 162</ref>
From the second half of the 17th century onwards, a time of political and religious turmoil existed in the kingdoms. The Commonwealth ended with the Restoration of Charles II. During his reign the Church of England was re-established, and episcopal church government was restored in Scotland. The latter move was particularly contentious, causing many, especially in the south-west of Scotland, to abandon the official church, attending illegal field assemblies known as conventicles in preference.
The authorities attempted some accommodation with Presbyterian dissidents, introducing official 'Indulgences' in 1669 and 1672, meeting with some limited success. Towards the end of Charles' reign those with more radical Presbyterian opinions, known as the Covenanters, who favoured rejecting all compromise with the state, began to move away from religious dissent to outright political sedition. This was particularly true of the followers of the Reverend Richard Cameron, soon to be known as the Cameronians. The government increasingly resorted to force in its attempts to stamp out the Cameronians, in a period subsequently labelled as the Killing Time.
Since the late Middle Ages, the Kingdoms of England and Scotland had been evolving towards a quasi-oligarchical or collegiate form of government in which the monarch was held to rule with the consensus of the land-owning upper classes.
Jacobitism has been put in the context of Early Modern European beliefs about the nature of religion and authority. Key to Jacobite ideology was the idea of 'Sacred Majesty'.<ref>Bruce Lenman, From the Union of 1707 to the Franchise Reform of 1832, A New Penguin History of Scotland From the Earliest Times to the Present Day, ed. R. A. Houston and W.W. J Knox, 276</ref> This held that God disapproved of the Hanoverian succession as a usurping and heretical regime.<ref>Lenman, From the Union to the Franchise Reform, 277</ref> Scottish Jacobites held that by violating the principle of indefeasible hereditary right, the Scottish nation had committed a great national wrong in 1688-9 and would in consequence be subject to divine punishment.<ref>Lenman, From the Union to the Franchise Reform, 277</ref>
Jacobites contended that James II and IIV had not been legally deprived of his throne, and that the Convention Parliament and its successors were not legal<ref>J.C.D. Clark English Society 1660–1832 Cambridge University Press Second Edition (2000) 94</ref>