The ‘Forty-Five: The Last Jacobite Rebellion, by Michael Hook and Walter Ross, published by Edinburgh: The National Library of Scotland (HMSO). $22.50 Paperback.
Perhaps no other British rebellion has been so well documented or as diversely represented as the last attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. THE ‘FORTY-FIVE: THE LAST JACOBITE REBELLION traces the history of this ill-conceived, if somehow righteous, rebellion.
In December 1688, James II of Great Britain–the last Jacobite to rule as King of England, Scotland and Ireland combined–fled to France and sought sanctuary at the court of his cousin, Louis XIV. James’ tenuous fate had been decided with the birth of his son, James Francis Edward, on 10th June 1688. Until then, the king’s opponents had consoled themselves with the knowledge that with James II’s death, the crowns of England, Scotland, and Ireland would pass to his Protestant daughter, Mary, who was married to William of Orange. When a Protestant succession could no longer be guaranteed, however, William was called forth from the continent with an army behind him, and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ was consolidated under William and Mary.
Even in exile, the Stuarts never gave up hope of regaining their three lost kingdoms. James II’s son, James III, was considered by his own supporters on the continent to be the true British King. The charade came to a head in 1745 when James III’s son, Charles Stuart, ‘The Young Pretender’, landed in the Outer Hebrides to gather an army to attack the government and lands of George II.
The Prince should have known better; previous Stuart invasion attempts had failed hopelessly without the support of French troops. The first, in 1715, in which Rob Roy had participated, was followed by the debacle of 1719, the discovery of the Atterbury Plot in 1722, and finally the peaceful accession of George II in 1727.
Despite all odds being against him, Bonnie Prince Charlie scored one dramatic victory at Prestonpans in which his Highlanders demonstrated their prowess with both muskets and broadswords. After his triumphal entry into Edinburgh, however, Charles’ attack on England fizzled as three British armies proved too much for his one-time force of 5,000 troops. Thus were the three kingdoms ‘saved’ from Roman Catholic rule for the remainder of their most recent history.
The text places the events of 1745 into dynamic perspective. Through the use of authentic documents and artwork from that period compiled with the help of the National Library of Scotland’s archives, authors Michael Hook and Walter Ross lend interpretative insight to this fascinating period of British history. Of the many histories of this event, this particular account provides an especially illuminating record of Bliadhna Theirlaich (Charlie’s Year).