sourced from www.RampantScotland.com
Bonnie Prince Charlie was a grandson of King James
VII who was driven out of Britain in 1688 because
of his support of the Catholic faith. Parliament
had originally wanted James' daughter Mary and her
husband, William of Orange from the Netherlands,
to act as regents until James' newly born son, James
Francis Stuart (Charles' father), reached his majority
(and had been raised in the Protestant faith). But
William was unhappy with this arrangement and insisted
on having the crown along with his wife. Parliament
agreed, thus sowing the seeds of the subsequent
Jacobite Uprisings (Jacobite came from the Latin
word for James - Jacobus).
Of course, King James VII tried to regain his throne.
But on July 12, 1690, William defeated James in
the Battle of the Boyne, Ireland. King James VII
died in exile in 1701. There were further Jacobite
insurrections in Scotland, particularly in 1715
when James Francis Stuart (nicknamed "The Old
Pretender") landed in Scotland, some months
after the Earl of Mar had conducted an ineffectual
campaign. James had dithered in France about when
to leave for Scotland and it was mid-winter by the
time he arrived at Aberdeen on 22 December. And
he did not bring the expected French military forces
or any money. After two months he was advised to
withdraw and left once more for France, never to
William and Mary died childless and her sister and
successor Queen Anne also died without issue. Parliament
then decided in 1714 (by a majority of one) to ask
George, the Elector of Hanover in Germany to become
king of Britain. George's mother was Sophia, a grand-daughter
of King James VI. Even so, the rules of succession
gave James Francis Stuart a stronger right to the
throne, a point not lost on the Jacobite supporters,
most of whom were in Scotland.
In 1718, James Francis Stuart married Princess Clementina
Maria Sobieski of Poland who was one of the wealthiest
females of royal birth in Europe. Their son, Prince
Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Silvester Maria
Stuart was born in Rome on 31 December 1720. The
Pope gave his personal blessing to the infant.
Although the Hanoverian rumour machine tried to
spread stories that he was deformed and an imbecile,
unbiased observers of the young Prince described
him as headstrong and brave. He learned quickly
and could converse in English, French, Latin and
Italian (but there was nobody to teach him Gaelic).
He was a good marksman with a cross-bow. It is possible
that his father would have allowed Charles to be
reared as a Protestant to improve his chances of
inheriting the throne but this was not a viable
proposition while living in Rome.
In addition to being called Prince Charles Edward,
he also gained the nicknames of "Bonnie Prince
Charlie" and "The Young Chevalier"
(the French word for Prince). His portraits certainly
show him to be a handsome young man.
Charles was treated as a Prince in Italy and later
in France. The French and British were at loggerheads
(as on so many occasions over the centuries) and
in 1744 offered a fleet with 7,000 soldiers to help
Charles restore the Stuarts to the British throne.
But many of the ships were lost in a storm and wrecked
on the Dunkirk coast.
Despite the setback, Charles was resolved to sail
to Scotland. For most of his life he would have
been told exaggerated stories about the level of
support and must have believed that his arrival
would result in a massive, spontaneous uprising.
He only sent a letter to his father about his intentions
as he was ready to depart. On 23 July 1745, Charles
landed on the white sands of the Outer Hebridean
island of Eriskay, accompanied only by a small band
of companions known as the "Seven Men of Moidart".
The Prince is said to have scattered some seeds
there and to this day a flower known as the Prince's
Flower grows there and nowhere else in Scotland.
Initially, the Highland chiefs were reluctant to
join him, particularly as he had no French army
with him. The first to announce he would follow
Charles was Ranald MacDonald and others soon followed.
The Prince's standard was raised at Glenfinnan at
the head of Loch Shiel on 19th August. At first
there was no sign of any gathering clans but late
in the afternoon the Camerons of Lochiel arrived
followed by MacDonalds and MacGregors. Eventually
some 1,500 men assembled. Many chiefs were reluctant
to join him, but his enthusiasm and charm persuaded
many who heard him. It is likely that the news that
the Campbells were gathering a unit to assist the
government forces, may have induced some clans with
scores to settle to join the Jacobite cause.
The Highland army marched across Scotland, growing
in size as it went. They reached Perth early in
September and the Prince stayed at the Salutation
Hotel there, which still functions as such today.
The room where he slept is still used as a bedroom.
Prince Charles rode into the city in full Highland
dress, a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce.
In Perth he was joined by Lord George Murray who
was an able soldier and he was appointed lieutenant
general of the Jacobite army. While in Perth, Charles
is said to have visited Scone, the place where so
many of his ancestors had been crowned.
Advance and Retreat
The Jacobite army entered Edinburgh on 17 September
and Charles took up residence in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Up until this time, apart from a few skirmishes,
the Hanoverian army had avoided any major conflict.
But they were encamped at Prestonpans, to the east
of Edinburgh under the command of Sir John Cope,
waiting for reinforcements from the south. On September
21, Lord George Murray led the Jacobites in a circle
to the south and took the redcoats by surprise by
attacking at dawn from the rear. The Battle of Prestonpans
lasted only 15 minutes and gave the Jacobites a
After five weeks of inactivity in Edinburgh, Prince
Charles crossed the English border with 5,500 men
and advanced through England. By 4 December they
had reached as far as Derby in the heart of England,
120 miles from London. But bad winter weather was
taking its toll and there was no swelling of the
ranks from the people of England. Faced by a Hanoverian
army of 12,000 and another army of redcoats coming
south behind them, the Prince's advisers recommended
retreat. What they did not know was that London
was in panic and King George had his valuables packed
on a boat on the river Thames. Charles argued against
retreat but eventually had to accept.
William, Duke of Cumberland, son of King George
I, in command of the Hanoverian army was in pursuit
but the Jacobites mainly kept ahead of him and reached
Glasgow by Christmas Day. While in Glasgow, Prince
Charles met 20-year-old Clementina Wilkinshaw who
was later to become his mistress.
On 17th January, the Jacobite and Hanoverian armies
met near Falkirk. Thanks once again to the tactics
of Lord George Murray, the Highlanders inflicted
heavy casualties on the redcoats who left the field
of battle in confusion, only failing light stopping
a rout. In the entire campaign from Glenfinnan to
Falkirk the Jacobite army had never been defeated.
After Falkirk, Charles was all for turning south
again but his officers advised moving north. Charles
was aghast, but had to accept. His army grew smaller
as they marched north through the Highlands and
the Duke of Cumberland was again in pursuit with
fresh troops. By 20 February Charles and fewer than
5,000 men reached Inverness. It took time for the
government forces to assemble and reach the Moray
Firth but gradually 8,000 men were advancing on
Inverness. On 16 April 1746 the opposing forces
met on Culloden Moor. Hanoverian cannon fire over
a period of an hour killed many clansmen. When the
Highlanders eventually charged, the rifle fire from
the redcoats ripped into them. "Butcher"
Cumberland had given the order that no quarter was
to be spared and many wounded Jacobites were later
killed. It is estimated that Jacobite losses amounted
to 2,000; the Hanoverians lost 300.
The government forces hunted down anyone who was
thought to have participated in the "Jacobite
Rebellion" and many houses and castles were
torched. The only unit to show any compassion was
the Campbell militia from Argyll. Hundreds were
executed (after brief trials in England), 700 died
in the prison ships in the river Thames in London
and a thousand were sold as slaves to the American
plantations. The kilt was banned and no Highlander
could carry a weapon. The clan system may not have
lasted for much longer anyway, but the aftermath
of Culloden hastened its demise.