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Who was Charles Edward Stuart?

Updated on December 3, 2016

Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), known as 'the Young Pretender' and 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', was the son of James, 'The Old Pretender', and grandson of James II. In 1744 he headed a projected invasion of England, which failed, and in the following year, without French support, he landed at Eriskay in the Hebrides with a few companions.

His courage and youthful charm soon won over the Highland chiefs, and the clansmen flocked in when he raised his father's standard. On 17 September 1745 Edinburgh surrendered and Prince Charles held court at Holyrood. There followed the victory over Cope at Preston pans and the march. to England at the head of six thousand men. Though there was alarm in London, the English Jacobites did not rise, and at Derby the Highlanders refused to go any further.

On the retreat northwards Charles beat the government forces at Falkirk, but the Duke of Cumberland pursued him into the Highlands and totally defeated his army at Culloden Moor on 16 April 1746. For five months Charles lived as a hunted fugitive with a price of £30,000 on his head, but no one betrayed him and in September he reached safety in Brittany.

He stayed in France until his expulsion in 1748 and later settled in Italy, where he died, a childless unhappy drunkard.

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