Charles Edward Stuart
Stuart, Charles Edward, called The Young
Pretender, The Young Chevalier, and Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-88), claimant to the
British throne who led the Scottish Highland army in the Forty-five Rebellion.
The son of James Francis Edward Stuart and
grandson of James II of England, Charles Edward was born December 31, 1720, in Rome. In
1744, after his father had obtained the support of the French government for a projected
invasion of England, Charles Edward went to France to assume command of the French
expeditionary forces. Unfavourable weather and the mobilization of a powerful
to oppose the invasion led to cancellation of the plan by the French government.
The Jacobite cause was still
supported by many Highland clans, both Catholic and Protestant, and the
Catholic Charles hoped for a warm welcome from these clans to start an
insurgency by Jacobites throughout Britain, but there was no immediate
response. Charles raised his father's standard at Glenfinnan and there
raised a large enough force to enable him to march on the city of Edinburgh,
which quickly surrendered. On 21 September 1745 he defeated the only
government army in Scotland at the Battle of Prestonpans, and by November
was marching south at the head of around 6,000 men. Having taken Carlisle,
Charles' army progressed as far as Derby. Here, despite the objections of
the Prince, the decision was taken by his council to return to Scotland,
largely because of the almost complete lack of the support from English Jacobites that Charles had promised. By now he was pursued by the King
George II's son, the Duke of Cumberland, who caught up with him at the
Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746.
At Culloden his
forces were utterly routed . He was hunted as a fugitive for more than
five months, but the Highlanders never betrayed him,
and he escaped to France in
September 1746. Two years later he was expelled from that country in accordance with one of the
provisions of the second Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), which stipulated that all
members of the house of Stuart were to be driven from France. For a number of years
Charles Edward wandered about Europe. Secretly visiting London in 1750 and in 1754, he
attempted without success on both occasions to win support for his cause. In 1766, on his
father's death, Charles Edward returned to Italy, where he spent his last years.
Charles died in Rome on 31 January
1788. He was first buried in the Cathedral of Frascati, where his brother
Henry Benedict Stuart was bishop. At Henry's death in 1807, Charles's
remains were moved to the crypt of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
where they were laid to rest next to those of his brother and father. When
the body of Charles Stuart was transferred to the Saint Peter's Basilica,
his "praecordia" were left in Frascati Cathedral: a small urn encloses the
heart of Charles, placed beneath the floor below the funerary monument.
You can find out more about Bonnie Prince Charlie's campaign at the
Monument Visitor Centre.