The Final Rebellion: An Epic History of the Battle of Culloden
The Final Rebellion: An Epic History of the Battle of Culloden - In the early afternoon on the 16th of April, 1746, the last pitched battle to take place on British soil came to a conclusive end. To understand this battle however, we need to understand the events that sparked the Jacobite Rebellion decades earlier.
The Jacobite Rebellion was a complex and nuanced period in the history of the British Isles, beginning with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and ending with the death of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who is commonly referred to as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, in 1788. It began when the Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, who was from the House of Stuart, known as James VII in Scotland and James II in England, was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, who co-reigned until Mary’s death five years later, with William of Orange solely reigning until his death in 1702. After William’s death, Mary’s sister Anne reigned as Queen until 1714, when the throne was passed to King George I of the House of Hanover.
In 1745, another instance of Jacobite revolt erupted, after Prince Charles Edward travelled to the Scottish highlands and rallied thousands of clansmen to fight under the banner of restoring the Stuart monarchy. Food and resources were scarce, with Jacobite soldiers living off a ration of just three biscuits a day in the run-up to the Battle of Culloden. After failing to successfully execute a stealth attack on the British army during the night however (Linn 1921: 22), the Jacobite army found themselves fighting what would be the last pitched battle on British soil against the forces of King George II.
Following the unsuccessful surprise attack, the Jacobite army retreated to Culloden Moor, around five miles east of Inverness. On the day of the battle, the Jacobites were led by Prince Charles Edward, with George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland, leading the opposing army. Outnumbered, the Jacobite army was sliced through by the British cavalry. In the wake of battle, Prince Charles Edward fled Scotland and ended up in France. In the Highlands, the remains of the clan system and the Highland lifestyle were destroyed by the British government. The Battle of Culloden consolidated the House of Hanover’s hold on the British throne, a hold that lasted until the reign of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria’s marriage to her first-cousin, Prince Albert, introduced the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha into Britain. And then, in 1917, King George V changed the name of the royal family to the more English-sounding Windsor, at a time when anti-German sentiment was strong in Britain given the world war.
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BBC News (14 July 2016) Culloden was won with swords, not muskets, research claims - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-36791637
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Linn, E. (1921). The Battle of Culloden—16 April, 1746—as described in a Letter from a Soldier of the Royal Army to his Wife. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 1(1), 21-24 - https://www.jstor.org/stable/44227458?seq=1
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Stevenson, D (2011). Four Hundred Years of Freemasonry in Scotland. The Scottish Historical Review, 90(230), 280–295. www.jstor.org/stable/23073288
The Scotsman (19 May, 2017) A Circle of Gentlemen - a once secret Jacobite society - https://www.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/circle-gentlemen-once-secret-jacobite-society-855991
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