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Scottish Templar: Bonnie Prince Charlie

NPG 5517; Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Louis Gabriel Blanchet

Bonnie Prince Charlie was born on the 31stDecember 1720 to James III of Scotland, in Rome, amidst great rejoicing, for Jacobites throughout Western Europe who looked to him to win back the throne for the Stuarts.

Europe became increasingly restless when Emperor Charles VI died in 1740. And tension mounted between Protestant England and Catholic Jacobean Scotland and France.  Charles’ ambition and desire for military success led him to plan an invasion of England, in order to capture the throne for his father, from George II.

After a brief period in France following a failed attempt to gain support, Prince Charles landed in Scotland on the 25thJuly 1745.  He quickly gained support from the highlands, and his army successfully fought General John Cape’s men.  The Battle of Prestonpans was fought on the 21stSeptember 1745, near the town of Prestonpans, a small fishing community in East Lothian.  It was the first major battle of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, an attempt by Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) to seize the English throne.

On the 24thSeptember 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) was elected the new Grand Master of the Scottish Knights Templar in Edinburgh.

With victory in their hearts and a strong sword at hand, victorious warriors of the Battle of Prestonpans. Charles and his army started their long road to London.  They were forced to retreat back to Scotland, after receiving reports of overwhelming armies prepared to defend the city.  Much against the Prince’s will, his supporters turned back at Derby.  Pursued by government forces, they won a victory at Falkirk but were finally crushed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Charles was forced to spend the next five months as a hunted man, finally escaping Scotland through the Western Highlands to France, spending the rest of his life in exile, sinking ever deeper into depression and alcoholism.  His late marriage in 1772 to the German Louise of Stalberg was childless, and she eventually left him.

After his father’s death, he styled himself in the image of Charles III, but by then all hope of a Jacobite restoration was lost.  He died on the 31stJanuary 1788.

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