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1745 Jacobite Rebellion

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Revision as of 14:22, 28 January 2009 by Rabid Hams (talk | contribs) (catted)
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Ah, yes. The '45'. Source of fiction and fable to rival nothing else from north of Hadrian's Wall, not even Rabbie Burns.

The myths of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora MacDonald, the gallant Scots against the brutal English oppressors are all still endlessly peddled - sometimes in the almost legitimate cause of separating gullible tourists from their increasingly worthless £s but often, like Wallace & 'Braveheart', in the blood-flecked spittle of rabid nationalism.

In reality, it was, like the 15 another staggeringly inept attempt by a Frenchman (with Scottish ancestry and a more-or-less legitimate claim to the British crown, it has to be admitted) to seize back (from his point of view) the crown his father had never been given.

And it started so well. Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, actually arrived in Scotland before the fighting had really started, raised (some of) the Highland Clans at Glenfinnan (some of the MacDonalds and the MacLeods having already worked out the problem with this 'Frenchman' thing and gone back to work) and marched south.

glenfinnan-lochshiel.jpg PG%202954.jpg

The British Army in Scotland was, at the time, quite weak, with most troops overseas in Flanders or Germany, but not as weak as the Jacobites. However, being led by one of the usual staggeringly competent generals (we are so lucky that stalwarts of history like Marlborough and Wellington arrive when we really need them), Sir John Cope, it rapidly retreated to Inverness, allowing the Jacobites to seize Perth and most of Edinburgh (but not the castle). Charles was proclaimed James VIII of Scotland and then, under George Murray, routed Cope's troops at the battle of Prestonpans.

Marching south, they seized Carlisle and Derby and then it all started to go wrong. The notorious petulance of the Stuart line, which had led to the English Civil War and much other misery, had its final pathetic flowering in Charles and, despite the successes in battle and march, he fell out dramatically with the Army commanders and his Council of War. They then retreated, with battles or skirmishes (some won, most lost) until final defeat, by a Government Army mostly composed of regular Scottish Regiments led by William, the Duke of Cumberland (still 'Butcher Cumberland' to the narrow-minded - although it is rumoured that this epithet was strongly encouraged by his elder brother, the Prince of Wales, who was jealous of William's military success), at Culloden in April 1746.

A typically French 'flight of the Commander' followed, accompanied with a notorious episode of transvestism (perhaps the current head of the House of Stuart could become Captain-General of the Royal Marines when Phil the Greek finally pops his clogs?), romanticised in the wailing "Skye Boat Song".

This was all much over and done with until Victorian times when a rush of Scottish sentimentality, sponsored largely by Sir Walter Scott, led to the appearance of invented customs such as the placing of a container of salt next to your port glass (you wave it over the salt before taking the loyal toast, so it is completely not surreptitious at all to the 'King over the Water'. A load of bollocks, really.