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16 April 2008

On this day in history: Battle of Culloden, 1746

Following the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 (mentioned in a recent post). Some Britons, known as Jacobites, wanted James II restored to the throne. After James' death in 1701, the Jacobite cause shifted to his son, also called James but commonly known as 'the Old Pretender'. There were two major Jacobite risings in Britain in 1715 and 1745. Both of these rebellions began in the north of Scotland, because the Jacobite cause was popular with the Highlanders.

The 'Fifteen (as the 1715 revolt was known) ended when the 'Old Pretender' followed the advice of his counsellors and abandoned his troops to return to exile in France. The 'Forty-Five' was led by the charismatic Charles Edward Stuart, also known as the 'Young Pretender' or 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'. Initially Charles' campaign was a great success: his troops took Edinburgh and pushed into England making it as far as Derbyshire. But a lack of support from English Jacobites worried Charles' counsellors, and he grudgingly accepted a retreat to their power base in Scotland.

Battle of Culloden, by David Morier

The Hannoverian government in England raised an army, which - under the command of the King George II's son, the Duke of Cumberland - finally caught up with the Jacobite forces in April 1746 near Inverness. Against the wishes of his generals, Charles decided to fight a decisive battle. The battle lines were drawn on 16th April, 1746, with Charles' 7,000 strong army of mostly Highland Scots facing Cumberland's force of Lowland Scots, English troops and even a few Highlanders. The superior artillery of the Hanoverian army and dissent within the Jabocite ranks resulted in a clear victory for Cumberland, the flight of Charles back to exile, the brutal repression of Highlanders and the end of the Jacobite cause. This was the last battle fought on British soil (although some historians and commentators maintain that the Battle of Orgreave, during the Miners' Strike in 1984, should be considered as such).

If you wish to read more about the Battle of Culloden check out the site.


Gerald said...

War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.