The Jacobites

From the founding of the Jacobites to the final battle at Culloden - here we have summarised the most important events of the Jacobites.

The Jacobites

James Francis Edward Stuart (*10 June 1688 at St James's Palace; † 1 January 1766 in Rome) was rightful king and pretender to both the Scottish and English thrones. He was a descendant of the famous monarch Mary Stuart, Mary Queen of Scots (b. 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow Palace; † 18 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle). Just like Mary Queen of Scots, James E. F. Stuart was not recognised as king because of his Catholic faith. With the Act of Settlement of 1701, a new law was created which stated that only kings and queens of the Protestant faith were entitled to the throne of the Kingdom of England. Furthermore, the law stated that all descendants would also lose the right to the throne if they married a Catholic partner.

James F.E. Stuart was the son of Jacob II and Mary Beatrice of Modena. Although his two older sisters, Mary and Anne, were brought up Protestant, it was decided to baptise James Catholic. In order to avoid Catholic rule of England, James was deposed as king in the Glorious Revolution just 20 days after his birth and his mother fled with him to France. There James E.F. Stuart grew up Catholic and was recognised as the rightful king and heir to the throne of his father James II. The "Jacobites" were founded.

The Jacobites included all those who supported James F.E. Stuart's claim to the throne and gave him the title James III of England and James VIII of Scotland - since James was changed to Jacob in Latin. This is where the name of his supporters comes from, which included not only Scots but also Irish and English. For some of the Jacobites, religion played a role, but most of them supported the Stuarts out of pure patriotism to their beloved Scotland. Another reason was the economic situation, as many of them hoped for prosperity and improvement once the rightful king was back on the throne.

The Jacobites repeatedly opposed the new King William of Orange, who was the husband of Mary, James F.E. Stuart's half-sister. 1689 was the first of the rebellions, led by John Graham of Claverhouse - also known as Bonnie Dundee, who raised the standard of the Stuarts on Dundee Law. He fell at the Battle of Killiecrankie in the same year, which lasted only 10 minutes. Another battle followed at Dunkeld, south of Killiecrankie. Without a leader, the Jacobites had to walk away from the battle with a defeat.

After these uprisings, King William now demanded an oath of allegiance from all his subjects. This was to be taken by the clan chiefs by 1.1.1692. Due to an error, the clan chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe took the oath too late, after which the king wanted to make an example of the clan. This led to the so-called Glencoe Massacre, in which almost the entire clan of the MacDonalds of Glencoe was wiped out. This incident in turn fuelled the fire in the Jacobites to support their true king.

In the early 18th century, rebellion occurred again in the year following the Act of Union, which allied England and Scotland into one kingdom. The French King Louis XIV wanted to use the tense situation in his favour and supported the "Old Pretender" James VIII/III with a fleet, but very bad weather conditions as well as the intervention of the English navy also thwarted this uprising. In 1715, John Erskine raised the Stuart standard and the first major Jacobite uprising took place - the so-called 'The Fifteen'. This rebellion was caused because after the death of Anne Stuart, the House of Hanover was established as the British royal house instead of the House of Stuart. However, John Erskine was not up to his newfound task as leader of nearly 12,000 men and found himself at the Battle of Sheriffmuir, which ended in a draw. The "Old Pretender" soon reached Scotland and tried to lead his Jacobites. But by now George I of the House of Hanover was on the throne and most of the cities now supported the all-British government. France, too, could no longer be expected to support him, for by now there was a new ruler there who was trying to make peace with England. A few more coup attempts followed, but none of them really represented the aims and interests of the Jacobites.

The Second Great Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 - also known simply as "The Forty-Five" - was to change the culture and history of Scotland dramatically. This uprising was led by the "Young Pretender", the son of the "Old Pretender". Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he was better known, wanted to achieve what neither his father nor grandfather had managed. After his cousin Louis of France had first offered to help him, but then stalled him for too long, Bonnie Prince Charlie managed on his own to charter two ships and sail to Scotland. He arrived in Scotland on 19 August 1745 and hoisted the Stuart Standard at Glenfinnan, in the West Highlands. Indeed, loyal Jacobites were still found willing to support the true heir to the throne.

On 21 September 1745, the Jacobites defeated John Cope's army at Prestonpans, enabling him to advance to London to realise his dream. However, at Derby he was forced to listen to his war council and turn back. On 17 January 1746, the Battle of Falkirk took place, after which the Jacobites retreated north to near the capital of the Highlands - Inverness. There, on 16 April 1746, the all-important battle took place on Culloden Moor, east of Inverness. The Battle of Culloden finally sealed the fate of the Jacobites. The Jacobites, clearly outnumbered, lost the battle within about 25 minutes. More Jacobites were hunted through the Highlands for days and executed.

The rebellion crushed, the Jacobite symbols were publicly burned, their language - Gaelic - was banned and their clothing, such as plaid (the origin of the kilt), was also banned. Those who survived faced a bleak future, mostly in captivity for years. Bonnie Prince Charlie also escaped the battle, but he too was never able to raise a new rebellion and thus did not even spend 1 year of his life in his native Scotland. The so-called Highland Clearances were the result of the ban on the Scottish clan system, after which many Scots were forced to flee abroad to build a new life.

Today, more people with Scottish roots live abroad than in Scotland itself, partly due to these Highland Clearances after the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746. Even today, Jacobites are considered patriotic folk heroes and their story should definitely not be forgotten. Perhaps some of you will have the opportunity to attend the annual commemorations at Culloden on the Saturday before 16 April to delve even deeper into the history of the Jacobites.