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Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart 1720-1788)

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Monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie at Glenfinnan

Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788) - The Young Pretender

Bonnie Prince Charlie, real name Prince Charles Edward Stuart, was born in Rome on 31 December 1720 where he enjoyed a life of comfort and privilege, and was generally known in Britain as the young pretender to the thrones of England and Scotland. The Stuarts, supported by the Jacobites hoping for religious tolerance for the Catholics, considered that the throne of England was theirs by right and by the time young Charles was in his twenties he was pursuaded to return to Scotland and claim it. Bonnie Prince Charlie's first attempt at reclaiming the throne started with the Jacobite uprising in 1745 which ended in failure and final defeat at the battle of Culloden. This ended the Jacobite cause and Charles fled from Scotland after the defeat.

Before the uprising, Charles landed at Eriskay, in the Hebrides on 23 July where he intended to raise an army. After gathering about 6,000 supporters at Genfinnan, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army marched on Edinburgh which they took without much resistance. Continuing southwards, they managed to capture Carlisle before heading futher south. They got as far as Swarkestone Bridge in Derbyshire but then turned back to Scotland believing that a much greater English army was now blocking the way of further advancement. The Duke of Cumberland, King George II's son, pursued the Scots all the way back to Culloden which they reached on 16 April 1746 where the Scots were beaten in battle and dispersed. Bonnie Prince Charlie now believed he had been betrayed and decided to abandon the Jacobite cause. He fled into the hills and moors of Scotland but was continually pursued by government forces. Charles evemtually managed to escape across the sea to the Isle of Skye with the help of Flora MacDonald, the daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Milton on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, who disguised him as her maid in the boat.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's final departure point on Scottish soil was Loch nan Uamh in Lochaber where he boarded a French frigate with his few remaining supporters and arrived in France in September 1746. The Prince was never to set foot in Scotland again. The 'Princes Cairn' by the Loch nan Uamh marks the exact departure point.

The Prince remained on the continent for the rest of his life except for one brief secret visit to London. He married Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern in 1772 and they lived in Rome and later moved to Florence. He died in Rome on 31 January 1788 aged 67 years from a stroke. He was buried in the in the Frascati Cathedral until 1807 when his remains, except his heart, were moved to the crypt of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican following his brother's death. Bonnie Prince Charlie's heart still remains buried under the floor in the Frascati Cathedral.

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