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Prince Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, 1720-1788, was born and died in Italy. He was in Scotland from the 23rd July 1745, when he landed on the island of Eriskay, Outer Hebrides, until the 20th September 1746 when he left Scotland forever. This escapade, the final Jacobite uprising, is sometimes called 'the '45'.
As a consequence of this failed rebellion against the Hanoverian crown, the Highland way of life, particularly the clan system, though already changing because of economic factors, was dismantled on government orders. A series of Disarming Acts took effect. Wearing of tartan was even banned. The culture of the Gaels was seen as a danger to the nation's stability and had to be broken up and absorbed by the Lowlanders. This policy to subdue the Highlands was carried out regardless of the politics of individual clans - not all of whom were Jacobite sympathisers.
The Prince's Beach, on Eriskay, where Bonnie Prince Charlie first set foot in Scotland. He was told to go home. Some of these Highlanders must have known he was a heap of trouble.
In fact, in the tide of sentimentality over the escapade, which gradually arose when the brutal events of the rebellion had long passed, it is easily overlooked that Charles’s cause was never overwhelmingly supported. He probably managed to raise much less than even half the fighting force in the Highlands – and many of these clansmen were coerced by their chiefs to turn up, follow and fight.
Bonnie Prince Charlie, as a young man, was handsome, athletic, musical and fluent in Italian, German and Spanish. As a grandson of the last Catholic Stewart king, James VII, he believed that he must regain the British throne from the Protestant Hanoverians. He was therefore the focus of the Jacobite cause. (Lat. Jacobus = James.) The Jacobites had wide support on the Continent, in Catholic Spain, Italy and, notably, France. The government in London was extremely worried by the activities of the Jacobites and the threat which they represented to the British throne.
Whatever the truth, the hot-headed young man left from St Nazaire in France with only two vessels, one of which was later engaged by the navy. The solitary 'Du Teillay' thus arrived in Eriskay, Outer Hebrides where the local Macdonald chieftain told him to go home. In true romantic fashion, Bonnie Prince Charlie said that he had come home - and hence the campaign got under way which was to change forever the Gaelic nation.
Some writers argue that Bonnie Prince Charlie was encouraged by the French to invade Scotland as this was a time of poor relationships between Britain and France, linked to their rivalry over New World colonies. The French hoped Charles's expedition would create a diversion and tie up the British navy in Scottish waters. This would leave unescorted British merchant ships in the southern North Sea an easier prey for French-sponsored privateers as well as making possible invasion easier. This view is decidedly 'bigger picture' - but a reminder that there were significances far beyond Scotland.
Lochan nan Uamh, near
Arisaig - the arrival and departure point for the Prince on
the Scottish mainland.
Glenfinnan, west of Fort William - the rallying point for supporters (19th August 1745). The ‘Raising of the Standard’ round which the clans gathered took place on the low ground at the head of the loch. The tall lighthouse-like monument that marks the spot today was erected in 1815 and it isn’t the prince on top. It’s just a kilted Highlander. Visitor Centre nearby (National Trust for Scotland tells the story of the ’45.
Corrieyairack Pass, near Fort Augustus - ironically, the Prince's army went south via the military roads built by General Wade to ensure that government troops could move quickly in the event of rebellion. The highest of these military roads (finished in 1732) crossed the Corrieyairack Pass at 2,500 ft.
Blair Castle, Perthshire - closely associated with the Jacobites as the prominent Murray family who lived in the castle had been split by the rebellion, with brother opposing brother. Later in the rebellion, with Blair Castle garrisoned by government troops, Lord George Murray, who became the Prince's very competent Lieutenant General, laid siege to his own home. Blair became the last castle in Britain ever to be besieged. Vistors today can still see the cannonballs used!
Stirling Castle - The Prince and his supporters came via Perth to Stirling on their way south, though it was on their way back north that they tried and failed to capture the stronghold.
Edinburgh - the Jacobites entered unopposed, on the 17th September. Edinburgh
Castle was firmly held by government troops. Bonnie Prince Charlie took up
residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse instead. At the Battle of Prestonpans
(21 September) east of Edinburgh, Jacobites routed the government army under
General Cope - an event recalled in the popular Scottish song 'Hey, Johnnie
Cope'. They then continued south.
The Jacobite army crossed the border near Kelso and took Carlisle, Manchester and Derby, only 127 miles from London. However, support diminished and, with government armies converging on them, the Jacobites turned back.
Glasgow - the Jacobite army returned to Scotland, passing through Dumfries and Galloway and the Clyde Valley (where the locals were somewhat hostile) to reach Glasgow, already a mercantile city, trading with the Americas. While here, Charles demanded 12,000 shirts, 6,000 coasts and 6,000 pairs of stockings for his ragged army - perhaps finding them in the early shops of what has become the 'Merchant City'. He also took advantage of its nightlife, attending balls and going out to dinner, as well as reviewing his troops on Glasgow Green.
Falkirk - here they had their last victory, in severe winter wet weather that caused government musketry to misfire. The Jacobite forces defeated another government army under General Hawley, who had his lunch at Callander House interrupted when the Jacobites attacked! Afterwards, Charles Edward Stuart caught a bad cold and stayed in Bannockburn House, before the Jacobites retreated northwards. The government forces regrouped in Edinburgh.
Things then moved to their conclusion for Bonnie Prince Charlie on the Battlefield of Culloden Moor. Follow that link for more information on what happened on a bleak moor above Inverness on a sleety day in April 1746.
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