Charles Edward, the Young Pretender


Charles Edward, the Young Pretender
orig. Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart known as Bonnie Prince Charlie

born Dec. 31, 1720, Rome
died Jan. 31, 1788, Rome

Claimant to the British throne.

He was the son of the royal pretender James Edward and grandson of the exiled James II of England. Seeking to regain the throne, in 1745 the "Young Pretender" landed in Scotland, where he raised an army of 2,400 among the clans. After taking Edinburgh and routing the English at Prestonpans, he crossed the English border and reached Derby, but a lack of strong support from the Jacobites and the French forced his retreat into Scotland. He was decisively defeated at the Battle of Culloden (1746) and, aided by Flora Macdonald (1722–90) and disguised as her maid, escaped to France. He wandered about Europe trying to revive his cause, but his debauched behaviour alienated his friends. He settled in Italy in 1766. He later became romanticized in ballads and legends.

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▪ British prince
in full  Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart,  byname  Young Chevalier,  or  Bonnie Prince Charlie 
born Dec. 31, 1720, Rome
died Jan. 31, 1788, Rome
 last serious Stuart claimant to the British throne and leader of the unsuccessful Jacobite rebellion of 1745–46.

      Charles's grandfather was the exiled Roman Catholic king James II (ruled 1685–88), and his father, James Edward, the Old Pretender, affected in exile the title King James III. Charles was reared a Catholic and trained in the arts of war. In 1744, during the War of the Austrian Succession (Austrian Succession, War of the) (1740–48), he joined a vast French fleet that was torn apart by a storm before it could invade England.

      Unable to obtain more French aid, Charles decided to set off on his own to regain the crown. He landed with a tiny force of about a dozen men on the west coast of Scotland in July 1745 and raised the Highlands in revolt. On September 17, with about 2,400 men, he entered Edinburgh. Four days later he routed Sir John Cope's army at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh; early in November, with 5,500 men, he crossed the English border and headed toward London. Charles advanced as far as Derby before his officers, discouraged by lack of French and English support and frightened by the prospect of facing 30,000 government troops, forced him to retreat into Scotland. His troops melted away, and on April 16, 1746, William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, decisively defeated him at Culloden Moor, Inverness-shire. For the next five months Charles was relentlessly pursued by British soldiers. Finally, helped by loyal supporters (in particular, Flora Macdonald (Macdonald, Flora), he escaped by ship to France (September 1746).

      Charles wandered around Europe trying to revive his cause, but his drunken, debauched behaviour alienated his friends. After he settled in Italy in 1766 the major Roman Catholic powers repudiated his title to the British throne. Romanticized through ballads and legends, “Bonnie Prince Charlie” became a national hero of Scotland.

Additional Reading
Among many biographies are David Daiches, The Last Stuart (also published as Charles Edward Stuart, 1973); Fitzroy Maclean, Bonnie Prince Charlie (1988); Frank McLynn, Charles Edward Stuart (1988, reprinted 1991); and Carolly Erickson, Bonnie Prince Charlie (1989, reissued 1993).

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Universalium. 2010.

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