Thursday, 14 August 2014
The Final Chapter.
People have always asked whether Charles and the Jacobite army could have made it all the way to London, instead of turning back at Derby, a decision which infuriated the Prince. It may well have been possible to reach the capital since King George and his court were actually preparing to quit London for Germany. London was in turmoil. However, one has to ask whether an army of 5,000 would have been able to hold and police this city's vast population, even if the various English armies had been unable to intercede ? I cannot imagine that a Stuart prince and large numbers of 'barbarous' Highlanders would have been at all welcome in London. The large armies of Cumberland and Wade were closing in , and I fear that the Jacobite adventure might have ended there and then. Charles's army could have made it to London, but within a short time defeat was inevitable. There would be no 'coronation' for Charles at Westminster, nor anyone willing to anoint him. From the outset, Charles's problem was an inability to maintain an army of sufficient size. The promises that Jacobites would rise in England, Ireland and Wales came to nothing, but there were plenty among his court of "Irish travellers" eager to perpetuate these lies and raise false hopes. Facts should be faced. The Jacobites in Scotland were the only people that Charles could count on. The French, English etc. never lived up to their promises. When they turned back at Derby, some of the Highland chiefs had argued that Charles should have stopped in Edinburgh as 'King of Scotland', and that they had been prepared to defend Scotland, but not England. That was disingenuous. They had in fact promised to see his father regain all Three Crowns of Britain. They possibly saw what lay ahead if their army continued towards London. The Highland clansmen were fearless and expert soldiers, but they were suited to fighting in rough, hilly terrain. This suited their guerrilla style, but against a professional army, fully equipped and highly trained, with a large complement of cavalry and modern artillery, they were always going to lose. The Hanoverian Army in early 1746, under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, was a highly professional and battle hardened army. The earlier Government army of late 1745 (vide Prestonpans) was anything but. The English people never took to the Stuarts , neither when they reigned in Scotland nor when they came south to England as their monarch. Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, had her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) executed to ensure she wouln't take the English throne. Charles I, a Stuart king, met with the same fate. The Restoration of the Monarchy in favour of the Stuart, King Charles II, only happened because at that time the alternatives were unacceptable, and the people were tired of conflict. His brother James II later came to the throne and lasted only a few years before he was forced into exile. The Stuart line was strongly Catholic, and since the Reformation, the peoples of England and Scotland were uneasy with monarchs who might still have some allegiance to the Church of Rome. The suspicion that Britain would once more have a Catholic king would prove too much for the people of Britain. This would be the biggest barrier of all for Charles to overcome. Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland with next to nothing, and one year on, he left these same shores with nothing. Between times he and his Jacobite army won a few battles and scared the living hell out of the government in London. Charles was bold and at times courageous, never more so than the time he spent as a fugitive in the wilds of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and he with a massive price on his head. However, those he left behind paid an even greater price after 'Bliadhna Tearlach'. THE END, LE FIN, AIG AN DEIREADH .