|Jacobite rising of 1745|
|Part of the Jacobite risings|
An Incident in the Rebellion of 1745, David Morier
|Commanders and leaders|
The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the '45 (Scottish Gaelic: Bliadhna Theàrlaich, [ˈpliən̪ˠə ˈhjaːrˠl̪ˠɪç], lit. 'The Year of Charles'), was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was fighting in mainland Europe, and proved to be the last in a series of revolts that began in 1689, with major outbreaks in 1708, 1715 and 1719.
Charles launched the rebellion on 19 August 1745 at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, capturing Edinburgh and winning the Battle of Prestonpans in September. At a council in October, the Scots agreed to invade England after Charles assured them of substantial support from English Jacobites and a simultaneous French landing in Southern England. On that basis, the Jacobite army entered England in early November, but neither of these assurances proved accurate. On reaching Derby on 4 December, they halted to discuss future strategy.
Similar discussions had taken place at Carlisle, Preston and Manchester and many felt they had gone too far already. The invasion route had been selected to cross areas considered strongly Jacobite in sympathy, but the promised English support failed to materialise. With several government armies marching on their position, they were outnumbered and in danger of being cut off. The decision to retreat was supported by the vast majority, but caused an irretrievable split between Charles and his Scots supporters. Despite victory at Falkirk Muir in January 1746, defeat at Culloden in April ended the Rebellion. Charles escaped to France, but was unable to win support for another attempt, and died in Rome in 1788.
The 1688 Glorious Revolution replaced the Catholic James II with his Protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William, who ruled as joint monarchs of England, Ireland and Scotland. Neither Mary, who died in 1694, nor her sister Anne, had surviving children, leaving their Catholic half-brother James Francis Edward as the closest natural heir. Since the Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Catholics from the succession, when Anne became queen in 1702, her heir was the distantly related but Protestant Electress Sophia of Hanover. Sophia died in June 1714, two months before Anne, and her son succeeded as George I in August.
Louis XIV of France, the primary source of support for the exiled Stuarts, died in 1715 and his successors needed peace with Britain in order to rebuild their economy. The 1716 Anglo-French alliance forced James to leave France; he settled in Rome on a Papal pension, making him even less attractive to the Protestants who formed the vast majority of his British support. Jacobite rebellions in 1715 and 1719 both failed, the latter so badly its planners concluded that it might "ruin the King's Interest and faithful subjects in these parts". Senior exiles like Bolingbroke accepted pardons and returned home or took employment elsewhere. The birth of his sons Charles and Henry helped maintain public interest in the Stuarts, but by 1737, James was "living tranquilly in Rome, having abandoned all hope of a restoration."
At the same time, by the late 1730s French statesmen had come to see British commercial strength as a threat to the European balance of power, and the exiled Stuarts a potential option for weakening it. However, financing a low-level insurgency was far more cost-effective than an expensive restoration, especially since the Stuarts were unlikely to be any more pro-French than the Hanoverians.[a] The remote and undeveloped Scottish Highlands were an ideal location for launching such an attempt, while the feudal nature of clan society made it relatively easy to raise troops. However, even Jacobite sympathisers were reluctant to support an uprising they recognised could be devastating for the local populace.
Opposition to taxes levied by the London government led to the 1725 malt tax and 1737 Porteous riots. In March 1743, the Highland-recruited 42nd Regiment of Foot was posted to Flanders, contrary to an understanding their service was restricted to Scotland, causing a short-lived mutiny. However, mutinies over pay and conditions were not unusual and the worst riots in 1725 took place in Glasgow, a town Charles noted in 1746 as one "where I have no friends and who are not at pains to hide it."
Trade disputes between Spain and Britain led to the 1739 War of Jenkins' Ear, followed in 1740–41 by the War of the Austrian Succession. The long-serving British prime minister Robert Walpole was forced to resign in February 1742 by an alliance of Tories and anti-Walpole Patriot Whigs, who then excluded their partners from government. Furious Tories like the Duke of Beaufort asked for French help in restoring James to the British throne. While war with Britain was clearly only a matter of time, Cardinal Fleury, chief minister since 1723, viewed the Jacobites as unreliable fantasists, an opinion shared by most French ministers. An exception was the Marquis D'Argenson, who was appointed Foreign Minister by Louis XV after Fleury died in January 1743.
Historian Frank McLynn identifies seven different ideological drivers behind continuing support for Jacobitism in 1745, Stuart loyalism being the least important. These divisions became increasingly apparent during the Rising, exacerbated because Charles himself was largely ignorant of the kingdoms he hoped to regain. In addition, many of his senior advisors were Irish exiles, who wanted an autonomous, Catholic Ireland and the return of lands confiscated after the Irish Confederate Wars. His grandfather James II had promised these concessions in return for Irish support in the 1689 to 1691 Williamite War in Ireland, and only a Stuart on the throne of Great Britain could ensure their fulfillment.
Such concessions were firmly opposed by Protestants who were the overwhelming majority in England, Wales and Scotland, while estimates of English support in particular confused indifference to the Hanoverians with enthusiasm for the Stuarts. After 1720, Robert Walpole tried to bind English Catholics closer to the regime by refusing to enforce laws against them. Many became government supporters, including the Duke of Norfolk, unofficial head of the English Catholic community. Sentenced to death in 1716, he was reprieved and remained in London during the 1745 rebellion, visiting George II to confirm his loyalty.
Most English Jacobite sympathisers were Tories who resented their exclusion from power since 1714, and viewed Hanover as a liability which involved them in expensive Continental wars of minimal benefit to Britain. These sentiments were particularly strong in the City of London, although diplomats observed opposition to foreign entanglements was true "only so long as English commerce does not suffer." However, even this group was far more concerned to ensure the primacy of the Church of England, which meant defending it from Charles and his Catholic advisors, the Scots Presbyterians who formed the bulk of his army, or Nonconformists in general; many "Jacobite" demonstrations in Wales stemmed from hostility to the 18th century Welsh Methodist revival.
The most prominent Welsh Jacobite was Denbighshire landowner and Tory Member of Parliament, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, head of the Jacobite White Rose society. He met with Stuart agents several times between 1740 and 1744 and promised support "if the Prince brought a French army"; in the end, he spent the Rebellion in London, with participation by the Welsh gentry limited to two lawyers, David Morgan and William Vaughan.
After the Jacobite rising of 1719, new laws imposed penalties on nonjuring clergy, those who refused to swear allegiance to the Hanoverian regime, rather than the Stuarts. For most English Non-Jurists, the issue was whether it was permissible to swear allegiance twice and so the problem naturally diminished as these priests died. In Scotland, doctrinal differences with the majority Church of Scotland meant they preserved their independence, which continues today in the Scottish Episcopal Church; many of those who participated in the Rising came from non-juring Episcopalian congregations. However, the most powerful single driver for Scottish support in 1745 was opposition to the 1707 Union, whose loss of political control was not matched by perceived economic benefit. This was particularly marked in Edinburgh, former location of the Scottish Parliament, and among Highland chiefs, many of whom were heavily in debt.
In summary, Charles wanted to reclaim the throne of a united Great Britain and rule on the basis of divine right of kings and absolutism. Both principles had been rejected by the 1688 Glorious Revolution, but were reinforced by his trusted advisors, most of whom were long-term English or Irish Catholic exiles.[b] They differed sharply from the Scottish Protestant nationalists who formed the bulk of the Jacobite army in 1745, and opposed the Union, Catholicism and "arbitrary" rule. At the same time, Jacobite exiles failed to appreciate the extent to which English Tory support derived from policy differences with the Whigs, not Stuart loyalism.
Under the 1743 Pacte de Famille, Louis XV and his uncle, Philip V of Spain, agreed to co-operate against Britain, including an invasion to restore the Stuarts. In November 1743, Louis advised James this was planned for February 1744 and began assembling 12,000 troops and transports at Dunkirk, selected because it was possible to reach the Thames from there in a single tide. [c] Since the Royal Navy was well aware of this, the French squadron in Brest made ostentatious preparations for putting to sea, in hopes of luring away their patrols.
James remained in Rome while Charles made his way in secret to join the invasion force, but when Admiral Roquefeuil's squadron left Brest on 26 January 1744, the Royal Navy refused to follow. French naval operations against Britain often took place in the winter, when poor weather made it harder to enforce a blockade. Unfortunately, this worked both ways, and as in 1719, the invasion force was wrecked by storms. Several French ships were sunk and many others severely damaged, Roquefeuil himself being among the casualties. In March, Louis cancelled the invasion and declared war on Britain.
In 1738, John Gordon of Glenbucket had proposed a landing in Scotland, which had been rejected by the French, and James himself. Seeking to revive this plan, in August Charles travelled to Paris where he met Sir John Murray of Broughton, liaison between the Stuarts and their supporters in Scotland. Murray subsequently claimed to have advised against it, but that Charles was "determined to come [...] though with a single footman." When Murray returned to Edinburgh with this news, his colleagues reiterated their opposition to a rising without substantial French backing, but Charles gambled once in Scotland, the French would have to support him.
He spent the first months of 1745 purchasing weapons, while victory at Fontenoy in April encouraged the French authorities to provide him with two transport ships. These were the 16-gun privateer Du Teillay and Elizabeth, an elderly 64-gun warship captured from the British in 1704, which carried the weapons and 100 volunteers from the French Army's Irish Brigade. In early July, Charles boarded Du Teillay at Saint-Nazaire accompanied by the "Seven Men of Moidart," the most notable being John O'Sullivan, an Irish exile and former French officer who acted as chief of staff. The two vessels left for the Outer Hebrides on 15 July but were intercepted four days out by HMS Lion, which engaged Elizabeth. After a four-hour battle, both were forced to return to port; losing the Elizabeth and its volunteers and weapons was a major setback, but Du Teillay landed Charles at Eriskay on 23 July.
Many of those contacted advised him to return to France, including MacDonald of Sleat and Norman MacLeod. Aware of the likely penalties for defeat, they felt that by arriving without French military support, Charles had failed to keep his commitments and were unconvinced by his personal qualities. Sleat and Macleod may also have been especially vulnerable to government sanctions, due to their involvement in illegally selling tenants into indentured servitude. Enough were persuaded but the choice was rarely simple; Donald Cameron of Lochiel committed himself only after Charles provided "security for the full value of his estate should the rising prove abortive," while MacLeod and Sleat helped him escape after Culloden.
On 19 August, the rebellion was launched with the raising of the Royal Standard at Glenfinnan, witnessed by what O'Sullivan estimated as around 700 Highlanders. This small Jacobite force used the new government-built roads to reach Perth on 4 September, where they were joined by more sympathisers. They included Lord George Murray, previously pardoned for participation in the 1715 and 1719 risings. O'Sullivan initially organised the Jacobite army along conventional military lines, but when Murray took over as chief of staff, he reverted to traditional Highland military structures and customs familiar to the majority of his recruits.
The senior government legal officer in Scotland, Lord President Duncan Forbes, forwarded confirmation of the landing to London on 9 August. Many of the 3,000 soldiers available to Sir John Cope, the government commander in Scotland, were untrained recruits, and while he lacked information on Jacobite intentions, they were well-informed on his, as Murray had been one of his advisors. Forbes instead relied on his relationships to keep people loyal; he failed with Lochiel and Lord Lovat but succeeded with many others, including the Earl of Sutherland, Clan Munro and Lord Fortrose.
On 17 September, Charles entered Edinburgh unopposed, although Edinburgh Castle itself remained in government hands; James was proclaimed King of Scotland the next day and Charles his Regent. On 21 September, the Jacobites intercepted and scattered Cope's army in less than 20 minutes at the Battle of Prestonpans, just outside Edinburgh. The Duke of Cumberland, commander of the British army in Flanders, was recalled to London, along with 12,000 troops. [d] To consolidate his support in Scotland, Charles published two "Declarations" on 9 and 10 October: the first dissolved the "pretended Union," the second rejected the Act of Settlement. He also instructed the Caledonian Mercury to publish minutes of the 1695 Parliamentary enquiry into the Glencoe Massacre, often used as an example of post-1688 oppression.
Jacobite morale was further boosted in mid-October when the French landed supplies of money and weapons, together with an envoy, the Marquis d’Éguilles, which seemed to validate claims of French backing. However, Lord Elcho later claimed his fellow Scots were already concerned by Charles' autocratic style and fears he was overly influenced by his Irish advisors. A "Prince's Council" of 15 to 20 senior leaders was established; Charles resented it as an imposition by the Scots on their divinely appointed monarch, while the daily meetings accentuated divisions between the factions.[e]
These internal tensions were highlighted by the meetings held on 30 and 31 October to discuss strategy. Most of the Scots wanted to consolidate their position and revive the pre-1707 Parliament of Scotland to help defend it against the "English armies" they expected to be sent against them. Charles argued an invasion of England was critical for attracting French support, and ensuring an independent Scotland by removing the Hanoverians. He was supported by the Irish exiles, for whom a Stuart on the British throne was the only way to achieve an autonomous, Catholic Ireland. Charles also claimed he was in contact with English supporters, who were simply waiting for their arrival, while d’Éguilles assured the council a French landing in England was imminent.
Despite their doubts, the Council agreed to the invasion, on condition the promised English and French support was forthcoming.[f] Previous Scottish incursions into England had crossed the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed, but Murray selected a route via Carlisle and the North-West of England, areas strongly Jacobite in 1715. The last elements of the Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 4 November and government forces under General Handasyde retook the city on 14th.
Murray divided the army into two columns to conceal their destination from General George Wade, government commander in Newcastle, and entered England on 8 November unopposed. On 10th, they reached Carlisle, an important border fortress before the 1707 Union but whose defences were now in poor condition, held by a garrison of 80 elderly veterans. However, without siege artillery the Jacobites would still have to starve it into submission, an operation for which they had neither the equipment or time. Despite this, the castle capitulated on 15 November, after learning Wade's relief force was delayed by snow. This success reinvigorated the Jacobite cause and when he retook the town in December, Cumberland wanted to execute those responsible.
Leaving a small garrison, the Jacobites continued south to Preston on 26 November, then Manchester on 28th. Here they received the first notable intake of English recruits, which were formed into the Manchester Regiment. Their commander was Francis Towneley, a Lancashire Catholic and former French Royal Army officer, whose elder brother Richard had narrowly escaped execution for his part in the 1715 Rising. At previous Council meetings in Preston and Manchester, many Scots felt they had already gone far enough, but agreed to continue when Charles assured them Sir Watkin Williams Wynn would meet them at Derby, while the Duke of Beaufort was preparing to seize the strategic port of Bristol.
When they reached Derby on 4 December, there was no sign of these reinforcements or any other French landing in England and the Council convened at Exeter House on 5th to discuss next steps. Despite the large crowds that turned out to see them on the march south, only Manchester provided a significant number of recruits; Preston, a Jacobite stronghold in 1715, supplied three. Murray argued they had gone as far as possible and now risked being cut off by superior forces, with Cumberland advancing north from London, and Wade moving south from Newcastle. Charles admitted he had not heard from the English Jacobites since leaving France; this meant he lied when claiming otherwise and his relationship with the Scots was irretrievably damaged.
The Council voted overwhelmingly to retreat, a decision strengthened by a report received from Lord John Drummond that French ships had landed supplies and money at the port of Montrose, Angus. They included "volunteers" from the "Royal Écossais" and the Irish Brigade, units of the regular French Royal Army. While these troops numbered less than 200 in total, Drummond allegedly suggested another 10,000 were preparing to follow, "greatly influencing" the decision.
While debated ever since, contemporaries did not believe the Hanoverian regime would collapse, even had the Jacobites reached London. The decision to retreat was driven by lack of English support or of a French landing in England, not proximity to the capital, and its wisdom supported by many modern historians. One reason was that their lack of heavy weapons allowed the Jacobites to out-march their opponents, but would be a disadvantage in a set-piece battle. In a letter of 30 November, the Duke of Richmond, who was with Cumberland's army, listed five possible options for the Jacobites, of which retreating to Scotland was by far the best for them, and the worst for the government.
The British government was concerned by reports of an invasion fleet being prepared at Dunkirk but it is unclear how serious these plans were. Over the winter of 1745 to 1746, Maréchal Maurice de Saxe was assembling troops in Northern France in preparation for an offensive into Flanders, while Dunkirk was a major privateer base and always busy. Threatening an invasion was a far more cost-effective means of consuming British resources than actually doing so and these plans were formally cancelled in January 1746.
The retreat badly damaged the relationship between Charles and the Scots, both sides viewing the other with suspicion and hostility. Elcho later wrote that Murray believed they could have continued the war in Scotland "for several years", forcing the Crown to agree to terms as its troops were desperately needed for the war on the Continent. This seems unlikely since despite their victories in Flanders, in early 1746 Finance Minister Machault warned Louis that the British naval blockade had reduced the French economy to a "catastrophic state."
The fast-moving Jacobite army evaded pursuit with only a minor skirmish at Clifton Moor, crossing back into Scotland on 20 December. Cumberland's army arrived outside Carlisle on 22 December, and seven days later the garrison was forced to surrender, ending the Jacobite military presence in England. Much of the garrison came from the Manchester Regiment and several of the officers were later executed, including Francis Towneley.
The invasion itself achieved little, but reaching Derby and returning was a considerable military achievement. Morale was high, while reinforcements from Aberdeenshire and Banffshire under Lewis Gordon along with Scottish and Irish regulars in French service brought Jacobite strength to over 8,000.
The Jacobite army now shifted to a more conventional form of warfare, for which they were arguably less well suited. Many troops were occupied suppressing a counterinsurgency in the Highlands, led by clansmen loyal to the government under John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun. At the same time, much of their resources were focused on besieging Stirling Castle, one of the most powerful forts in Scotland. On 17 January, the Jacobites dispersed a relief force under Henry Hawley at the Battle of Falkirk Muir, but insufficient heavy artillery meant the siege itself made little progress.
Hawley's forces were largely intact, and resumed their advance once Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh on 30 January, while many Highlanders had gone home after Falkirk; on 1 February, the Jacobite army abandoned the siege, and retreated to Inverness. Cumberland marched up the coast, allowing his forces to be resupplied by sea, and entered Aberdeen on 27 February; both sides halted operations until the weather improved. When Cumberland left Aberdeen on 8 April, the Jacobites were short of food and money, and the leadership agreed giving battle was their best option.
Arguments over the suitability of the ground at Culloden stem from post-war disputes between supporters of Murray and O'Sullivan, who was largely responsible for the choice, but defeat was a combination of factors. In addition to superior numbers and equipment, Cumberland's troops had been drilled in countering the Highland charge, which relied on speed and ferocity to break the enemy lines. When successful it resulted in quick victories like Prestonpans and Falkirk, but if it failed, they could not hold their ground.
The Battle of Culloden on 16 April, often cited as the last pitched battle on British soil, lasted less than an hour and ended in a decisive government victory. Exhausted by a night march carried out in a failed attempt to surprise Cumberland's troops, many Jacobites missed the battle, leaving fewer than 5,000 to face a well-rested and equipped force of 7,000 to 9,000.
Fighting began with an artillery exchange: that of the government was vastly superior in training and coordination, particularly as James Grant, an officer in the Irish Brigade who served as head of the Jacobite artillery, was absent, having been wounded at the Siege of Fort William. Charles held his position, expecting Cumberland to attack, but he refused to do so and unable to respond to the fire, Charles ordered his front line to charge. As they did so, boggy ground in front of the Jacobite centre forced them over to the right, where they became entangled with the right wing regiments and where movement was restricted by an enclosure wall.
This increased the distance to the government lines and slowed the momentum of the charge, lengthening their exposure to the government artillery, which now switched to grapeshot. Despite heavy losses, the Highlanders crashed into Cumberland's left, which gave ground but did not break, while Loudon's Highlanders fired into their flank from behind the wall. Unable to return fire, the Highlanders broke and fell back in confusion; the north-eastern regiments and Irish and Scots regulars in the second line retired in good order, allowing Charles and his personal retinue to escape northwards.
Troops that held together, like the French regulars, were far less vulnerable in retreat, but many Highlanders were cut down in the pursuit. Government casualties are estimated as 50 killed, plus 259 wounded; many Jacobite wounded remaining on the battlefield were reportedly killed afterwards, their losses being 1,200 to 1,500 dead and 500 prisoners. Several thousand armed Jacobites remained at large, and over the next two days, an estimated 1,500 assembled at Ruthven Barracks. On 20 April, Charles ordered them to disperse, arguing French assistance was required to continue the fight and they should return home until he returned with additional support.
Lord Elcho later claimed to have told Charles he should "put himself at the head of the [...] men that remained to him, and live and die with them," but he was determined to leave for France. After evading capture in the Western Highlands, Charles was picked up by a French ship commanded by Richard Warren on 20 September; he never returned to Scotland but the collapse of his relationship with the Scots always made this unlikely. Even before Derby, he had accused Murray and others of treachery; these outbursts became more frequent due to disappointment and heavy drinking, while the Scots no longer trusted his promises of support.
After Culloden, government forces spent several weeks searching for rebels, confiscating cattle and burning non-juring Episcopalian and Catholic meeting houses. The brutality of these measures was partly driven by a widespread perception on both sides that another landing was imminent. Regular soldiers in French service were treated as prisoners of war and exchanged regardless of nationality, but 3,500 captured Jacobites were indicted for treason. Of these, 120 were executed, primarily deserters from government forces and members of the Manchester Regiment. Some 650 died awaiting trial, 900 were pardoned and the rest transported to the colonies.
The Jacobite lords Kilmarnock, Balmerino and Lovat were beheaded in April 1747,[g] but public opinion was against further trials and the remaining prisoners were pardoned under the Act of Indemnity 1747. They included Flora MacDonald, whose aristocratic admirers collected over £1,500 for her. Lord Elcho, Lord Murray and Lochiel were excluded from this and died in exile; Archibald Cameron, responsible for recruiting the Cameron regiment in 1745, was allegedly betrayed by his own clansmen on returning to Scotland and executed on 7 June 1753.
The government limited confiscations of Jacobite property, since the experience of doing so after 1715 and 1719 showed the cost often exceeded the sales price. Under the Vesting Act 1747, the estates of 51 individuals attainted for their role in 1745 were surveyed by the Court of Exchequer, of which 41 were confiscated. As happened previously, most were either purchased or claimed by creditors, with 13 made crown land in 1755. Under the 1784 Disannexing Act, their heirs were allowed to buy them back, in return for a total payment of £65,000.
Once north of Edinburgh or inland from ports like Aberdeen, the movement of government troops was hampered by lack of roads or accurate maps of the Highlands. To remedy this, new forts were built, the military road network started by Wade finally completed and William Roy made the first comprehensive survey of the Highlands. Additional measures were taken to weaken the traditional clan system, which even before 1745 had been under severe stress due to changing economic conditions. The most significant was the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act 1746, which ended the feudal power of chiefs over their clansmen. The Act of Proscription 1746 outlawed Highland dress unless worn in military service, although its impact is debated and the law was repealed in 1782.
The Jacobite cause did not entirely disappear after 1746, but the conflicting objectives of its participants ended the movement as a serious political threat. Many Scots were disillusioned by Charles' leadership while the decline in English Jacobitism was demonstrated by the lack of support from areas strongly Jacobite in 1715, such as Northumberland and County Durham. Irish Jacobite societies increasingly reflected opposition to the existing order rather than affection for the Stuarts and were eventually absorbed by the Society of United Irishmen.
In June 1747, D’Éguilles produced a report on the Rising that was critical of the Jacobite leadership in general, while his opinion of Charles was so negative that he concluded France might be better served by supporting a Scottish Republic. Soon after this, Henry Benedict Stuart was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest; Charles viewed this as tacit acceptance that the Stuart cause was finished and never forgave him. For both leaders, the Rebellion was to be the highlight of their careers. Charles was forcibly deported from France after the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and rapidly descended into alcoholism, while Cumberland resigned from the British Army in 1757 and died of a stroke in 1765.
Charles continued his attempts to reignite the cause, including making a secret visit to London in 1750, when he met supporters and briefly converted to the Non-Juring Anglican Communion.[h] In 1759, he met to discuss another invasion with Choiseul, then Chief minister of France, but the latter dismissed him as incapable through drink. Despite Charles's urgings, Pope Clement XIII refused to recognise him as Charles III after their father died in 1766. He died of a stroke in Rome in January 1788, a disappointed and embittered man.
Writing in the mid-20th century, Scottish historian Winifred Duke claimed "...the accepted idea of the Forty-Five in the minds of most people is a hazy and picturesque combination of a picnic and a crusade ... in cold reality, Charles was unwanted and unwelcomed." Modern commentators argue the focus on "Bonnie Prince Charlie" obscures the fact that many participants in the Rising did so because they opposed the Union, not the Hanoverians. As a result, this nationalist aspect makes it part of an ongoing political idea, rather than the last act of a doomed Highland cause and culture.
One example of how this influenced historical perspectives is the tendency to portray the Jacobite Army as composed largely of Gaelic-speaking Highlanders. As recently as 2013, the Culloden Visitors Centre listed Lowland regiments such as Lord Elcho's and Balmerino's Life Guards, Baggot's Hussars and Viscount Strathallan's Perthshire Horse as "Highland Horse." Although a significant proportion were Highlanders, the army included many Lowland units, limited numbers of English, and several hundred French and Irish regulars.
After 1745, the popular perception of Highlanders changed from that of "wyld, wykkd Helandmen", who were racially and culturally distinct from other Scots, to members of a noble warrior race. For a century before 1745, rural poverty drove increasing numbers to enlist in foreign armies, such as the Dutch Scots Brigade, but while many Highlanders had military experience, the military aspects of clanship had been in decline for many years, the last significant inter-clan battle being Maol Ruadh in August 1688. Foreign service was banned in 1745 and recruitment into the British Army accelerated as deliberate policy. Victorian imperial administrators accentuated this by recruiting from the so-called "martial races," with Highlanders, Sikhs, Dogras and Gurkhas being grouped together as those who were arbitrarily identified as sharing military virtues.
Before 1707, Scots writers were part of a wider and often uniform European literary culture. The creation of a uniquely Scottish style began as a reaction to Union, with poets like Allan Ramsay using Scots vernacular for the first time. After the Rising, reconciling the Jacobite past with a Unionist present meant focusing on a shared cultural identity, made easier by the fact it did not imply sympathy for the Stuarts; Ramsay was one of those who left Edinburgh when it fell to the Jacobites in 1745. However, the study of Scottish history itself was largely ignored by schools and universities until the mid-20th century.
The vernacular style was continued after 1745, most famously by Robert Burns but others avoided recent divisions within Scottish society by looking back to a far more distant and largely mythical past. These included James Macpherson, who between 1760 and 1765 published the Ossian cycle which was a best-seller throughout Europe. The claim that it was a translation from the original Gaelic has been disputed ever since but the post-1746 sense of a culture under threat led to an upsurge in Scottish Gaelic literature, much of it related to the events of the Rising. Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, generally credited as author of the first secular works in Gaelic in the early 1740s, was followed by Gaelic poets including Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, who participated in the Rising as part of a government militia, and Catriona Nic Fhearghais, who allegedly lost her husband at Culloden.
The Rising has been a popular topic for writers such as D. K. Broster and Sir Walter Scott, whose 1814 novel Waverley presented it as part of a shared Unionist history.[i] The hero of Waverley is an Englishman who fights for the Stuarts, rescues a Hanoverian Colonel and finally rejects a romantic Highland beauty for the daughter of a Lowland aristocrat. Scott's reconciliation of Unionism and the '45 allowed Cumberland's nephew George IV to be painted less than 70 years later wearing Highland dress and tartans, previously symbols of Jacobite rebellion.
Replacing a complex and divisive historical past with a simplified but shared cultural tradition led to the Victorian inventions of Burns Suppers, Highland Games, tartans and the adoption by a largely Protestant nation of the Catholic icons Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. These continue to shape modern perspectives on the Scots past.