Charles Petrie (historian)

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Sir Charles Alexander Petrie, 3rd Baronet (28 September 1895 – 13 December 1977) was a British historian. Of Irish lineage, but born in Liverpool, he was educated at Oxford, and in 1927 succeeded to the family baronetcy.

Career overview[edit]

Petrie was known for his interest in royalism and Jacobitism, and particularly for his 1926 essay in counterfactual history, If: A Jacobite Fantasy, in which Bonnie Prince Charlie wins the Battle of Culloden in 1745, leading to a Jacobite restoration, the flight of the Hanoverian dynasty back to Germany, and the successive reigns of James III (The Old Pretender), Charles III, Henry IX and the continued tenure of the House of Stuart until the present twentieth century[1] Several of his books deal with Charles I's government, towards which he was broadly sympathetic. He published biographies of Lord Bolingbroke, of the early-20th-century British cabinet minister Walter Long, and of three Spanish kings: Philip II, Charles III, and Alfonso XIII. Another biography of his dealt with a fourth notable Spaniard: Philip II's half-brother Don John of Austria.

During the 1930s Petrie flirted with the far right. Impressed at first by Benito Mussolini (about whom he produced a short and polite book in 1931), he attended the 1932 Volta Conference of fascists and sympathisers. Disposed initially to favour Sir Oswald Mosley, he joined in 1934 the broadly pro-Mosley January Club. At the same time he remained publicly hostile towards Nazism throughout;[2] and his later view of Mosley, as expressed in his 1972 memoir A Historian Looks at his World, was thoroughly unflattering.

Among Petrie's journalistic posts was that of literary editor for the generally conservative New English Review. He supported, with reservations, Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco, and was a friend of a leading pro-Franco diplomat, the 17th Duke of Alba. Along with NER editor Douglas Francis Jerrold, Petrie formed in 1937 a group concerned to put the Nationalist case on the fighting in the Spanish Civil War.[3] After 1945 he edited the Household Brigade Magazine, as well as writing regularly for the Illustrated London News and Catholic Herald, in addition to being co-editor (with Jerrold) of the New English Review's short-lived successor, English Review Magazine.

In the late 1930s Petrie championed Neville Chamberlain, though subsequently he was an adherent (with, again, reservations) of Winston Churchill. In 1941 he attempted unsuccessfully to be adopted as Conservative Party candidate for Dorset South. He was rejected, according to Andrew Roberts in Eminent Churchillians, because he was too closely identified with appeasement.

He was appointed CBE in 1957.


  • Two Essays in Spanish History, Hugh Egerton & Co., 1922.
  • The White Rose: A Historical Drama in Three Acts, Hugh Egerton & Co., 1923.
  • The History of Government, Little, Brown, and Company, 1929.
  • Mussolini, Holme Press, 1931.
  • The Jacobite Movement, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1932.
  • Monarchy, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1933.
  • The Stuart Pretenders - A History of The Jacobite Movement, 1688–1807, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1933.
  • The History of Spain, Eyre And Spottiswoode, 1934 [with Louis Bertrand].
  • Spain, Arrowsmith, 1934.
  • The Letters Speeches and Proclamations of King Charles I, Cassell, 1935.
  • The Four Georges A Revaluation of the Period From 1714 to 1830, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1935.
  • William Pitt, Duckworth, 1935.
  • Walter Long and his Times, Hutchinson & Co., ltd. 1936.
  • Lords of the Inland Sea: A Study of the Mediterranean Powers, L. Dickson Limited, 1937.
  • Bolingbroke, Collins, 1937.
  • The Stuarts, 1937.
  • The Chamberlain Tradition, L. Dickson, Limited, 1938.
  • The Chamberlain Tradition, Frederick A. Stokes, 1938. Revised from the earlier English edition to incorporate current events.
  • Louis XIV, T. Butterworth, ltd., 1938.
  • The Life and Letters of The Right Hon. Sir Austen Chamberlain K.G., P.C., M.P, Cassel, 1939/1940 [2 volumes].
  • Joseph Chamberlain, Duckworth, 1940.
  • Twenty Years' Armistice - and After: British Foreign Policy Since 1918, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1940.
  • When Britain Saved Europe, the Tale and the Moral, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1941.
  • George Canning, 1946.
  • Diplomatic History, 1713–1933, Hollis and Carter, 1946.
  • The Private Diaries (March 1940 to January 1941) of Paul Baudouin, 1948 [translator].
  • Earlier Diplomatic History, 1492–1713, Macmillan Company, 1949.
  • The Jacobite Movement. The First Phase 1688–1716, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1948.
  • The Jacobite Movement. The Last Phase, 1716–1807, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950.
  • Chapters of Life, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950.
  • The Duke of Berwick and His Son; Some Unpublished Letters and Papers, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1951.
  • Monarchy in the Twentieth Century, A. Dakers, 1952.
  • Spain in the Modern World, University of Nottingham: Montague Burton International Relations Lectures, 1952.
  • The Marshal Duke of Berwick; The Picture of an Age, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1953.
  • Lord Liverpool and his Times, J. Barrie, 1954.
  • The Carlton Club, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1955.
  • Wellington: A Reassessment, J. Barrie, 1956.
  • The Powers Behind the Prime Ministers, MacGibbon & Kee, 1958.
  • The Jacobite Movement, 1958 [revision].
  • Daniel O'Conor Sligo: His Family and His Times, National University of Ireland, 1958.
  • The Spanish Royal House, G. Bles, 1958.
  • The Victorians, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960.
  • The Modern British Monarchy, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961.
  • King Alfonso XIII and His Age, Chapman & Hall, 1963.
  • Philip II of Spain, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1963.
  • Scenes of Edwardian Life, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1965.
  • Don John of Austria, 1967.
  • Great Beginnings In The Age Of Queen Victoria, Macmillan & Company, 1967.
  • The Letters of King Charles I, Funk & Wagnalls, 1968.
  • The Drift to World War, 1900–1914, Benn, 1968.
  • King Charles III of Spain: An Enlightened Despot, 1971.
  • A Historian Looks at His World, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1972.
  • The Great Tyrconnel: A Chapter in Anglo-Irish Relations, Mercier Press, 1972.
  • King Charles, Prince Rupert, and the Civil War: from Original Letters, 1974.


  • "Madrid and Its Life To-day," The Living Age, July 3, 1926.
  • "The Jacobite Activities in South and West England in the Summer of 1715," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. XVIII, 1935.


  1. ^ Petrie, Charles. "If: A Jacobite Fantasy," The Weekly Westminster, January 30, 1926.
  2. ^ Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers of the Right, Constable, p. 41, 1980.
  3. ^ Stove, R. J. "In Search of Sir Charles Petrie," National Observer, No. 83, June/August 2010.


External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Lindsay Haddon Petrie
(of Carrowcarden)
Succeeded by
Charles Richard Borthwick Petrie