Of the three Jacobite Rebellions — 1689, 1715 and 1745 — none were successful in restoring the Catholic House of Stuart to the British throne. The best known of those was the ’45 which was certainly the one with the most devastating consequences for the Highlands of Scotland, its culture and people.
Often thought of as a Scots v English contest, those were in fact power struggles between cousins of different religious persuasions. The conflicts were sectarian in nature, not national, or necessarily patriotic.
There were Highland clansmen fought in the Government army, and there were English, Welsh and Irish Jacobites fought on the Jacobite side for “Bonnie Prince” Charles Edward Stuart. The term “Jacobite” means supporter of James/Jaques Stuart, referring to the “Old Pretender” son of James VII (James II of England) and father of the “Bonnie” Prince.
Whilst the campaign reached as far into England as Derby, a mere 100 miles from London, much of the undeniably colourful and romantic drama was played out in the Highlands.
Whatever opinion one might have of the “Young Chevalier” (another romantic name for Charles Stuart) the loyalty of his supporters was without question. Of the heroine Flora MacDonald who helped the Prince escape “over the sea to Skye,” with the enormous bounty of £30,000 on his head, Dr Samuel Johnson was to say on meeting her in 1773,
» Her name will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour. «
That inscription features on a plaque beneath this statue of the lady outside Inverness Castle.
From the raising of the standard at Glenfinnan, to his ultimate departure for France, a few miles from the bloody finale of Culloden, and the year of “the prince amang the heather”, the canvas for all of these encounters included some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, much of it documented for posterity as a musical narrative within reach of the visitor.