The Jacobite Risings were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars which took place in Britain and Ireland between 1688 and 1746. Their aim was to return James VII of Scotland and II of England, and the descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne, James having been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of conflicts takes its name from Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.

The major Jacobite Risings were referred to as Rebellions by the ruling governments. The “First Jacobite Rebellion” and “Second Jacobite Rebellion” were known respectively as “The Fifteen” and “The Forty-Five”, after the years in which they occurred (1715 and 1745).

Although each Jacobite Rising had unique features, they were part of a larger series of military campaigns by Jacobites attempting to restore the Stuart kings to the thrones of Scotland and England (and after 1707, Great Britain). James was deposed in 1688 and the thrones were claimed by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband, the Dutch-born William of Orange.

After George, the Elector of Hanover, succeeded to the British throne as George I in 1714, the risings intensified until the last Jacobite Rebellion (“the Forty-Five”), led by Charles Edward Stuart (the “Young Pretender” or “Bonnie Prince Charlie”).

Prince Charles (his father having been deposed his title came from his mother who was a Princess of Poland) initially landed from France on Eriskay in the Western Isles. He then travelled to the mainland in a small rowing boat, coming ashore at Loch nan Uamh, just west of Glenfinnan. Here he was met by MacDonalds, Camerons, McPhees and MacDonnells clansmen who had sworn an oath of allegiance to the House of Stuart.

On Monday 19th August 1745 he climbed the hill at Glenfinnan and raised the royal standard, claiming the Scottish and the English thrones in the name of his father James Stuart (“the Old Pretender”).

Charles and his army fought their way south into England as far as Derby, but the promised help from English Jacobites did not materialise so after King George II offered the return of the Scottish crown, the Scots clansmen decided to turn back north. However Charles still wanted the English crown and refused the offer so his army were chased back into the Highlands where they faced their final battle on the 16th April 1746, at Culloden Field, just outside Inverness.

Recklessly Charles ordered his army to charge the superior forces of George (commanded by his son, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland) uphill. As a result the Jacobites were soundly defeated and so ended any realistic hope of a Stuart restoration.

After Culloden, Charles was chased all over the Highlands and Islands, including time spent in Skye, until he eventually came to Glenfinnan again to board a French frigate on the shores of Loch nan Uamh, close to where he had landed and raised his standard. 

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Category: Historic Events 

James Green is the author of Origins of the Forty-Five  and the one-act play Farewell to the Prince (or Charlie’s Cheerio)

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