Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: Charles Edward Stuart

Charles Edward Stuart was regarded by significant numbers as King Charles III. He is mostly known to posterity as the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie.

He was born in 1720 in Rome, the son of James Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender and his wife Maria.

As a young man, he fought in battles on the side of the French, including the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, in which George II led the English army.

In 1745, he travelled to Scotland in a bid to secure the crown for his father, but lost a ship on the way and eventually landed on Eriskay with seven companions.

Charles` charisma gained him much support among Highlanders, and he was proclaimed Prince Regent, shortly afterwards raising his father`s standard at Glenfinnan.

With his army growing, Charles entered Edinburgh and took over the court at Holyrood. An army was sent from England, under Sir John Cope, to deal with him, but this he quickly defeated at Prestonpans.

Charles then led his army into England, encountering little opposition. He proclaimed his father king at Ashbourne, and finally reached Derby.

At this point, with England at his mercy and George II about to flee the country, Charles lost his nerve and turned back, to return to Scotland. His army, deflated and disappointed, became dispirited.

William, Duke of Cumberland (the king`s son), led an English army into Scotland, and decisively defeated Charles` army at Culloden Moor in 1746. It was the last battle fought on British soil.

Charles escaped to the Isle of Skye, helped by Flora McDonald and disguised as a spinning maid, and lived as a fugitive in the Highlands for half a year. In the meantime, Cumberland earned his Butcher nickname by massacring any Jacobite sympathisers that he found.

Eventually, Charles, realising that his chance had come and gone, returned to Rome, followed by his mistress Clementina Walkinshaw, with whom he had a daughter Charlotte, who was born in 1753 and who later became Duchess of Albany.

From his father James` death in 1766, Charles styled himself Charles III, but never came close to repeating his adventure, instead becoming more and more of a drunkard.

Clementina left him because of his cruelty, and he married Louise, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, Prince of Stolberg-Gedern, in 1772, at Ancona. The pair were never happy, and they separated in 1780.

Charles regretted for years not having died with his supporters at Culloden. He himself died in 1788 at Rome, and was buried with his father at St. Peter`s.