A History of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745
For three years, beginning when Charles was less than five years old, the young princes life was plagued with familial scandal and conflict. In November of 1724, Clementina accused James of carrying on an affair with Marjorie Hay, a woman whom James had recently appointed as Lady Inverness. At the same time, James had announced that Charles and his younger brother, Harry, would be trained in both Catholicism and Protestantism. It is assumed that in efforts of absorbing the shock of the announcements, Clementina, an extremely devout Catholic, concluded that an affair was evident. Pope Benedict VIII investigated both the love affair and the educational dispute, settling the former through discussion and the latter through demand that the children be raised in the traditional Catholic manner.
Few specifics were known of Charles during these years. He was reared by his fifty-year-old cousin Sir Thomas Sheridan and taught trades of battle. Sheridan described Charles as a master of the bow and arrow by age six, and the boy seemed motivated in the practice. By age eight, Charles had vastly improved physically and seemed to fit his earlier, misconceived, proud descriptions. In the summer of 1734, when he was thirteen, it was deemed fit for Charles to travel to Gaeth to experience the territorial battle between Spain and Italy. Charles proved to be captivated and daring in the setting, as he showed extreme interest in witnessing all the most dangerous positions. Bonnie Prince Charlie, even though he had had no formal training in military strategy, decided that he would lead a military life. Through this international activity, Charles Edward began to accompany his father as the recipients of support for a Stuart return to the throne.
Charles became fascinated by his Scottish heritage as contact with the highlanders became more regular. With a return to the throne seeming more possible because of Englands newly-at-war status (Britain declared war on Spain in 1739), Charles sailed to the west coast of Scotland in July 1745. There he gathered clan members and instigated the 45, a rebellion which over its eight month duration brought the Stuarts within 127 miles of London and the throne. Charles was ultimately forced to retreat, flee, and return to Rome, where he died on January 30, 1788. The thoughts and feelings of the Scottish Jacobites began long before their final materialization in the Rebellion of 1745.
The faction definitively arose in 1688. It was in this year that Parliament forced James Ils abdication and ended the reign of the Stuarts. James successor, William of Orange, quickly exiled the Stuart family; the Jacobites were those who remained faithfully supportive of the Stuart line. In France, Louis XIV allied with the exiled family, giving them funds to maintain their court. He therefore established a stronghold against the British status quo and his personal enemy, William. Almost immediately following the Stuarts exile came the first attempt to restore their position. In July of 1789, John Graham of Claverhouse led the uprising, and met the English at the Battle of Killiecrankie. The Jacobites won the battle, but Graham was fatally wounded, and the movement lost its momentum. In 1701, James II died; the Jacobites regained support as they shifted attention to the new claimant to the throne, James IIIthe Old Pretender.
It was in 1708 that he made his motion for the throne. With the backing of the French, James VIII of Scotland, as he strategically dubbed himself, landed near Edinburgh; quickly the English responded with naval counter-forces and the French retreated. Small Jacobite uprisings came again in 1715, but none held force until thirty years later in the 45. After many failed attempts for the Stuart Restoration, the Jacobites were hesitant to rise again; thirty years brought the ideal opportunity. In 1739, Britain declared ware on Spain, ending the long-held peace under Robert Walpole and opening the door for foreign interference.
With such enticement, Louis XV planned a massive invasion of England in 1744 with intentions of replacing George II with a puppet king. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, son of James III, sailed with the French fleet as the Stuart representative, but weather deterred the invasion, which, in historical retrospect, could have held great potential; the English soon proved weak and may have easily fallen to the 10,000 French troops. Instead, Charles proceeded by himself and landed on the West Coast of Scotland on July 25, 1745 with minimal ammunitions. He sent letters to populating clans requesting support, and on August 19 at Glenfinnan in northwestern Scotland, troops gathered, the Stuart standard was raised, and the Rebellion of 1745 was initiated with Bonnie Prince Charlie as its leader. Charles moved his 1,200 troops eastward, gathering more support and more soldiers.
An English army under the command of John Cope was immediately mobilized northward to Scotland. Cope, instead of meeting Charles, marched to his northernmost fort, Inverness, and left a southern route to Edinburgh unguarded and available to the Jacobites. Charles army, on September 17, entered Edinburgh with almost no opposition and took the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the residence of Stuart heritage. With new fervor, the Jacobites met the English forces of Cope (who had taken ship to the coast east of Edinburgh) at Prestonpans, and were victorious in less than ten minutes. Charles had thus gained control of Scotlands entirety.
On November 1, the Jacobite forces began their march to London. The English forces surrendered at Carlisle on November 16, Charles marched through Manchester on the 28th, and reached he Derby on December 4. By this point, word of the approaching army had spread to London and produced surprising support. Additionally, 10,000 French troops had been sent to assist Charles. But in the field, the commander could not gauge these aids, and in fear of the converging English forces, Charles and the Jacobites retreated on December 6Black Friday, only 127 miles from London.
The Jacobites marched slowly northward back to Scotland and established winter residence in Inverness. Meanwhile, the Duke of Cumberlandthe second son of King George Ilhad received 5,000 troops from Germany and mobilized his men. The Duke reached his winter mainstay, Aberdeen, on February 27. In waiting for better weather, the Jacobite forces dispersed and Charles intelligence of the English status dwindled. Cumberland departed Aberdeen on April 8 and marched west toward Inverness; Charles knowledge of the approaching officers position was inaccurate by thirty miles. On April 14 Cumberland was sighted and the Jacobite forces frantically tried to gather themselves at Culloden Moor. Only about 7,000 of Charles 8,000 men were in the Culloden vicinity; only about 1,000 could take the field for battle by eleven oclock in the morning on April 16 when the Duke of Cumberland arrived. Even with newly contacted clansmen considered, the forces of Cumberland still outnumbered those of Charles by three thousand men.
After Cumberland signaled for the unleashing of the English artillery, the broadswords of the Highlanders fell, and the final battle of the 45 was decided in less than an hour. Bonnie Prince Charlie gave instructions for his men to retreat and he fled to Italy, where he lived for the rest of his life; the Jacobite standard was permanently silenced. Although the Battle at Culloden lasted only an hour, its outcome impacted the entire future of the Scottish highlands, the English throne, and the world. From the view of the English Government, the rebels and their sympathizers were guilty of treason. Consequently, the Privy Council in London decided that all prisons of the rebellion should be tried for treason in England. This demonstrated a firm distrust of all Scots and a blatant violation of 1707s Act of Union. In addition, the English fortified military bases in the highlands and built new forts, including Fort George, just miles north of Culloden Moor.
Because of the rebellion, the new English policy toward Scotland was one of control, distrust, and suppression. The most influential implication of the 1745 Rebellion was in regards to the English throne. The uprising finally made a Stuart return to the throne impossible; the issue was, for the fist time in centuries, relatively secure. But Bonnie Prince Charlie and his armies had reached Derby, less than 130 miles from London. Had Charles decided to press on, the results of his uprising could have been extremely different. The French, for the third time since 1688, had sent thousands of men to invade Britain. Considering the success of the Jacobite army in the preceding months, it is fair to say that they, with French support, stood a chance for success. Their deterrent was a lack of Jacobite support in the English countryside.
It seemed to Charles that as he traveled south, fewer and fewer men joined his ranks. He did not understand, though, that support was growing surprisingly quickly in London itself. The city would have presented him with very little opposition. If Charles had continued his march, the Stuart line could have returned to the British throne. Britains greatest asset of the coming centuries, Parliament, which gave Britain order when Europe was in turmoil, would have been subordinate again. The new king, most likely Charles father, James III, would have been Louis XVS ideal.
France would have held influence over a country that in the next two hundred years became one of the most powerful nations in the world. The French Revolution of 1789 would have shaken the English as it did the French, and the efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte at the start of the nineteenth century would have been magnified by control of Great Britain. Charles Edwards retreat and eventual defeat also plays a historical role overseas.
Only thirty years after the Jacobite Rebellion came the American Revolution. By quarrelling with and weakening the English, the Jacobites may have helped the Americans. Even more importantly, if Charles had regained the British throne for the Stuarts, the American Revolution may have been unsuccessful. Historians have partly attributed the success of the Revolution to the incapabilities of King George. King James may not have let the colonies eventually gain freedom. The Rebellion of 1745 held many historical implications on many levels. As an uprising, it decidedly brought suppression to the Scottish Highlanders. As a near overtaking of the throne, it contributed to nearly every aspect of European and World History since. Because Great Britain has emerged as a superpower, it can be assumed that France, with a puppet king in England, would have had influence in all British colonies and territories. It is even possible to speculate that the United States would not exist; the world would be a different reality had Charles not retreated.
January 28, 2023