1902 Encyclopedia > Charles Edward (Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir)

Charles Edward
(full name: Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir)
(also known as: Charles Edward Stuart; the Young Pretender; Bonnie Prince Charlie)

Son of James the Pretender

CHARLES EDWARD, or, in full, CHARLES EDWARD Louis PHILIP CASIMIR (1720-1788), was born on the 31st December 1720. He was the elder son of James, known as the Pretender and the Chevalier St George. Grandson of James II. and nephew of Anne, he was heir of line of both these sovereigns ; but the hereditary rights of his father and himself had been declared null under the Proclamation of Rights and other parliamentary enactments which fol-lowed and completed the Revolution of 1688.

The young prince was educated at Rome, his mother, by blood a Sobieski, superintending his studies for some years. On the whole his education was good ; he became conversant with the French, Italian, and Latin languages, and his religious training was watched with interest by the Pope. His father's miniature court was frequented by English and Scottish noblemen of Jacobite sympathies, by foreign enemies of the house of Hanover, and by bigoted supporters of the Romish faith ; and the influence of this society is distinctly evident upon his after life. In 1734, the duke of Livia, afterwards duke of Berwick, who was proceeding to join Don Carlos in his struggle for the crown of Naples, passed through Borne. He offered to the Pretender to take charge of his son, should Charles be willing to accompany him in his expedition. This offer was accepted, and the youth of fourteen, having been appointed general of artillery by Don Carlos, shared with credit the dangers of the successful siege of Gaeta.

The handsome and accomplished youth, whose doings were eagerly reported by the English ambassador, was now introduced, by his father and the Pope to the highest Italian society, which he fascinated by the frankness of his manner and the grace and dignity of his bearing. To these, more than to any power of his mind or heroism of his career, are to be attributed the successes of his early life. James despatched his son on a tour through the chief Italian cities, that his education as a prince and man of the world might be completed. The distinction with which he was received on his journey, the royal honours paid to him in Venice, and the jealous interference of the English ambassador in regard to his reception by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, show how great was the respect in which the exiled house was held by foreign Catholic powers, as well as the watchful policy of England in regard to its fortunes.

The Pretender himself calculated upon foreign aid in his attempts to restore the monarchy of the Stuarts ; and the idea of rebellion unassisted by invasion or by support of any kind from abroad was one which it was left for Charles Edward to endeavour to realize. Of all the European natious France was the one on which Jacobite hopes mainly rested, and the keen sympathy which Cardinal Tenein, who had succeeded Fleury as French minister of war, felt for the Pretender resulted in a definite arrange-ment for an invasion of England to be timed simul-taneously with a pre-arranged Scottish rebellion. Charles was secretly despatched to Paris. A squadron under Admiral Boquefeuille sailed from the coast of France. Transports containing 7000 troops, to be led by Marshal Saxe, accompanied by the young prince, set sail for England. The sight of the English fleet and a severe storm effected, however, a complete disaster without any actual engagement having taken place. The loss in ships of the line, in transports, and in lives was a crushing blow to the hopes of Charles, who remained in France in a retirement which he keenly felt, and which he resolved to quit by a personal visit to Scotland.

He had at Rome made the acquaintance of Lord Elcho and of Murray of Broughtou ; at Paris he had seen many supporters of the Stuart cause ; he was aware that in every European court the Jacobites were represented in earnest intrigue; and he had now taken a considerable share in correspondence and other actual work connected with the promotion of his own and his father's interests. Although dissuaded by every friend he had, he, on 13th July 1745, sailed for Scotland on board the small brig " La Doutelle," which was accompanied by a French man-of-war, " The Elizabeth," laden with arms and ammunition. "The Elizabeth" fell in with an English man-of-war and had to return to France, while Charles escaped during the engagement, and at length arrived on the 2d of August off Erisca, a little island of the Hebrides. Beceiving, however, but a cool reception from Macdonald of Boisdale, he set sail again and arrived at the bay of Lochnahuagh, on the west coast of Inverness-shire.

The Macdonalds of Clanranald and Kinloch Moidart, along with other chieftains, again attempted to dissuade him from the rashness of an unaided rising, but they yielded at last to the enthusiasm of his manner, and Charles landed on Scottish soil in the company of the " Seven Men of Moidart," who had come with him from France. Every-where, however, he met with discouragement among the chiefs, whose adherence he wished to secure; but at last, by enlisting the support of Cameron of Lochiel, he gained a footing for more than a miniature rebellion. With secrecy and speed communications were entered into with the known leaders of the Highland tribes, and on the 19th of August, in the valley of Glenfinnan, the standard of James III. and VIII. was raised in the midst of a motley but increasing crowd.
On the same day Sir John Cope, at the head of 1500 men, left Edinburgh m search of Charles; but, fearing an attack in the Pass of the Corryarrick, he changed his proposed route to Inverness, and Charles thus had the undefended south country before him. In the beginning of September he entered Perth, having gained numerous accessions to his forces on his march. Passing through Dunblane, Stirling, Falkirk, and Linlithgow he arrived within a few miles of the astonished metropolis, and on the 16th of September a body of his skirmishers defeated the dragoons of Colonel Gardiner in what was known as the " Canter of Coltbrig." His success was still further augmented by his being enabled to enter the city, a few of Cameron's Highlanders having on the following morning, by a happy ruse, secured the Netherbow Port. On the 18th he occupied Holyrood.

Cope had by this time brought his disappointed forces by sea to Dunbar. On the 20th Charles met and defeated him at Prestonpans, and returned to prosecute the siege of Edinburgh Castle, which, however, he raised on General Guest's threatening to lay the city in ruins. In the beginning of November Charles left Edinburgh never to return. He was at the head of at least 6000 men; but the ranks were speedily thinned by the desertion of High-landers, whose experience had led them to consider war merely as a raid and an immediate return with plunder. Having passed through Kelso, he, on the 9th November, laid siege to Carlisle, which capitulated in a week. On the 4th of December he had reached Derby and was within two days' march of London, whose inhabitants were terror-struck, and where a commercial panic immediately ensued. Two armies under English leadership were now in the field against him,—the one under Marshal Wade, whom he had evaded by entering England from the west, and the other under the duke of Cumberland, who had returned from the Continent. London was not to be supposed helpless in such an emergency ; Manchester, Glasgow, and Dumfries, rid of his presence, had risen against him, and Charles paused. There was division among his advisers and desertion among his men, and on the 6th of December he commenced his retreat.

Closely pursued by Cumberland, he marched across the border, and at last stopped to lay siege to Stirling. At Falkirk, on the 17th of January 1746, he defeated General Hawley, who had marched from Edinburgh to intercept his retreat. A fortnight later, however, Charles raised the siege of Stirling, and after a weary though successful march, rested his troops at Inverness. Having taken Forts George and Augustus, and had varying success against the supporters of the Government in the north, he at last prepared to face the duke of Cumberland, who had passed the early spring at Aberdeen. On the 8th of April the duke marched thence to meet Charles, whose little army, exhausted with a futile night march, half-starving, and broken by desertion, he engaged at Culloden on 16th April 1746. The decisive and cruel defeat sealed the fate of Charles Edward and the house of Stuart.

Charles fled. Accompanied by the faithful Ned Burke, and a few other followers, he gained the western coast. Hunted hither and thither, the prince wandered on foot or cruised restlessly in open boats among the many islands of the west. The barren Benbecula sheltered him for a month. In lack of food, unsightly in appearance, having a strange contentment under his misfortunes, and already betraying his weakness for liquor, Charles, upon whose head a price of £30,000 had a year before been set, was relentlessly pursued by the spies of the Government. Disguised in women's clothes, and aided by a passport obtained by the devoted Flora MacDonald, he passed through Skye, and parted from his conductress at Portree. Shortly afterwards he was again on the mainland, and in the end of July he took refuge with the " Seven men of Glenmoriston," a body of outlawed Jacobite freebooters, with whom for a time he was safe. Having joined Lochiel and Cluny Macpherson, he at last heard that two French ships were in waiting for him at the place of his first arrival in Scotland—Loch-nahuagh.

He embarked with speed, and sailed for France. Ere-long he was again intriguing in Paris, and even in Madrid. So far as political assistance went his efforts were in vain; and he plunged eagerly into the gaieties of Parisian society, of which he was the hero for some years.

The enmity of the English Government to Charles Edward made peace with France an impossibility, so long as she continued to harbour the young prince. A condition of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded in October 1748, was that every member of the house of Stuart should be expelled the French dominions. Charles had forestalled the proclamation of the treaty by an indignant protest against its injustice, and a declaration that he would not be bound by its provisions. But his indignation and persistent refusal to comply with the request that he should voluntarily leave France had to be met at last with force ; he was apprehended, imprisoned for a week at Vincennes, and on the 17th December conducted to the French border. He lingered at Avignon ; but the French, com-pelled to hard measures by the English, refused to be satisfied; and the Pope, under threat of a bombardment of Civita Vecchia, advised the prince to withdraw. Charles simply and quietly disappeared ; and for years Europe watched for him in vain. It is now established, almost with certainty, that he returned to the neighbourhood of Paris; and it is supposed that his residence was known to the French ministers, who, however, firmly proclaimed their ignorance. In 1750, in 1752, and again, it is thought, in 1754, he was even in London, hatching futile plots and risking his safety for his hopeless cause.

During the next ten years of his life Charles Edward had become a confirmed profligate. His illicit connection with a Miss Walkenshaw, whom he had first met at Bannockburn House while conducting the siege of Stirling, his imperious fretful temper, his drunken habits and debauched life, could no longer be concealed. He wandered over Europe in disguise, alienating the friends and crushing the hopes of his party; and in 1766, on the death of his father, he was treated even by the Pope with contempt, and his title as heir to the British throne was openly repudiated by the great powers.

It was in 1772 that France, still intriguing against England, arranged that Louise, Princess of Stolberg, should marry the besotted prince (now passing under the title of Count Albany) who twelve years before had so cruelly maltreated his paramour that she had left him for ever. Six years afterwards, however, the countess had to take refuge in a convent. Her husband's conduct was brutal, and her own life was in danger at his hands. Her sus-pected attachment to Alfieri the poet and the persistent complaints of the prince at last brought about a formal separation, and Charles Edward, lonely, ill, and evidently near death, remained at Florence. In remorse he wrote for his daughter, the child of Miss Walkenshaw, and she remained with him, under the name of duchess of Albany, during the last two years of his life. He died at Rome on the 31st of January 1788, and was buried in the Grotte Vaticane of St Peters.

See Earl Stanhope's The Forty-Five, Chambers's History of the Rebellion of 1745-6, Burton's History of Scotland, Hayward's Essays, (vol. ii.), Ewald's Life and Times of Charles Stuart, The Autobio-graphy of Flora Macdonald, &c

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