Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion

Charles Edward Stuart aka the Young Pretender aka Bonnie Prince Charlie is one of those failed heroes in Scotland's history who leave behind such a trail of romance and wishful thinking that readers find it hard to separate the truth from legend. Indeed, the National Galleries of Scotland have recently admitted that the iconic painting declared the "official" image of the Bonnie Prince is actually that of his younger brother Henry ( Gallery admits portrait isn't Bonnie Prince Charlie 15/12/2009 ).

As a figurehead of he Jacobean movement, Charles Edward Stuart tried to rally the support of a disparate band of men, with little common ground of religion or nationality or even politics to unite them.

There are few books on the man himself - David R Ross's On The Trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie provides a quick introduction to the Prince and the places in Scotland, England, Italy and France associated with him. Others, such as Frank McLynn's Bonnie Prince Charlie and A.J. Youngson's The Prince and the Pretender, are now out of print.

Of course, part of the romance of the story of the Young Pretender is his flight to the islands following the Battle of Culloden, and his rescue by the young Flora MacDonald. Her story is told in Flora MacDonald: The Most Loyal Rebel by Hugh Douglas, and also in A Wee Guide to Flora MacDonald, by David MacDonald.

  • Cover scan of Flora MacDonald
    Flora MacDonald: The Most Loyal Rebel
    Hugh Douglas - Paperback - Sutton
    Flora MacDonald's flight to Skye with Bonnie Prince Charlie made her into a Scottish heroine, and the subject of legend and song. She later emigrated to America and was caught up in the War of Independence. This biography brings her to life.
  • Cover scan of On The Trail Of Bonnie Prince Charlie
    On The Trail Of Bonnie Prince Charlie
    David R. Ross - Paperback - Luath
    Part of a series of guides looking at key figures and themes, this work follows the trail of Charles Edward Stewart, the Young Pretender. As well as providing guidebook information on Scotland this book offers fascinating facts about the prince.
  • Cover scan of A Wee Guide To Flora MacDonald
    A Wee Guide To Flora MacDonald
    David MacDonald - Paperback - Goblinshead
    This work tells of the life and times of Flora MacDonald, including her adventures with Bonnie Prince Charlie, immigration to North Carolina, and her eventual return to Skye.

The Jacobite Movement

There are many more books on the Jacobite movement. Begin with Murray Pittock's Jacobitism, which provides not just a history of the movement and the risings of 1715 and 1745, but also a review of Jacobite scholarship over the years. Pittock is also the author of The Myth of the Jacobite Clans, recently revised, which aims to clear away the caricatures and pointless romanticism so often associated with Jacobean history.

While there are plenty of books on Culloden, there are fewer on the other battles of the Jacobite Rebellion. Martin Margulies plugs one of the gaps with The Battle of Prestonpans 1745, which combines a military history of the battle with background information on the politics and religion of the time. Edward T Corp's academic book The Jacobites At Urbino reaches even further afield, discussing the Jacobite court at the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, Italy, and how the court eventually moved to Rome.

Writer Maggie Craig is best known for her romantic novels, but she was inspired to write Damn Rebel Bitches, about the women of the '45 rebellion, while researching for a novel. Stunned to find that there was no modern history of those women who had acted as spies, sponsors and supporters during the '45, she wrote her own. She followed this up with Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the '45, in 2009.

  • Cover scan of Bare-Arsed Banditti
    Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men Of The '45
    Maggie Craig - Hardback - Mainstream
    Who were the men who fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden? Maggie Craig tells the dramatic and moving stories of the men who were willing to risk everything for their vision of a better future for themselves, their families and Scotland.
  • Cover scan of The Battle Of Prestonpans 1745
    The Battle Of Prestonpans 1745
    Martin Margulies - Paperback - Tempus
    This volume presents a history of the Jacobite battle fought on 21st September 1745 between the forces of the Hanoverian regime and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as 'Bonnie Prince Charles'.
  • Cover scan of Damn' Rebel Bitches
    Damn' Rebel Bitches: The Women Of The '45
    Maggie Craig - Paperback - Mainstream
    Craig tells the stories of the many women caught up in the last Jacobite Rising, some of whom gave money and hospitality, acted as spies and raised men for Prince Charles' army, and others who had no choice, who were raped and persecuted after Culloden.
  • Cover scan of The Jacobites at Urbino
    The Jacobites At Urbino: An Exiled Court In Transition
    Edward T. Corp - Hardback - Palgrave Macmillan
    Following the Glorious Revolution the court of the exiled Stuarts was for many years based in France until after the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1715 when it was forced to move to Rome. This book provides a study of the court in transition when exiled King James III lived in Palazzo Ducale at Urbino.
  • Cover scan of Jacobitism
    Murray Pittock - Paperback - Macmillan
    This volume is a study of the Stuart dynasty's attempts to regain the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in the 18th century, providing a history of the Jacobite cause, the Risings, and Jacobite culture.
  • Cover scan of The Myth Of The Jacobite Clans
    The Myth Of The Jacobite Clans: The Jacobite Army In 1745
    Murray Pittock - Paperback - Edinburgh University Press
    The first edition of this book argued that British history had long sought to caricature Jacobitism rather than to understand it, and that the Jacobite Risings drew on extensive Lowland support and had a national quality within Scotland. This second edition addresses the questions of the first in more detail.

The Rebellion in Fiction

The story has inspired several works of fiction, the most notable, of course, being Sir Walter Scott's Waverley (Edinburgh's main train station is named after the novel.) Edward Waverley is a young English soldier who is drawn to the Jacobite cause and the novel follows his progress. That other great storyteller, Robert Louis Stevenson, was inspired by the Jacobite rebellion to write one of his greatest works, Kidnapped and also, for children, Quest for a Kelpie by Frances Hendry has become of the classics in Scottish children's fiction.

More recently, Janet Paisley's novel White Rose Rebel tells the story of a husband and wife who find themselves on opposite sides in the Rebellion. Neil Munro's The New Road is set in 1733 when General Wade opened up the Highlands to trade with the Lowlands of Scotland.

Although the Prince did not have Gaelic, his heartland was very much Gaelic-speaking Scotland, and one of the greatest Gaelic poets, Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, accompanied the Prince on the march to Derby and is said to have given him Gaelic lessons. His poetry can be found in anthologies.

  • Cover scan of Quest For A Kelpie
    Quest For A Kelpie
    Frances Mary Hendry - Paperback - Kelpies
    Jeannie Main, a fisher-lass from Nairn, is warned by a gypsy that she will make a king and break a king, and be in the shadow of the gibbet four times. Involved with both Jacobites and Hanoverians, Jeannie does indeed fulfil all the prophecies.
  • Cover scan of White Rose Rebel
    White Rose Rebel
    Janet Paisley - Paperback - Penguin
    'White Rose Rebel' is the story of a couple torn apart and set against each other, finding themselves on opposite sides during the Jacobite Rebellion.

Books for Children

There are several books for children which explore the life of the Bonnie Prince. Grant Francis' Bonnie Prince Charlie and The Story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, by David Ross, tell the story in simple language for children. Allan Burnett's Bonnie Prince Charlie And All That is packed with historical facts and fun illustrations. Finally, The Jacobites by Antony Kamm is part of the National Museum of Scotland's Scotties series, and was recently rewritten. It features illustrations and photographs taken from the Museum's collections of Jacobite treasures.

  • Cover scan of Bonnie Prince Charlie And All That
    Bonnie Prince Charlie And All That
    Allan Burnett - Paperback - Birlinn
    This text features a real-life adventure with historical facts about Britain's royal rebel, Bonnie Prince Charlie. It tells of Charlie's ugly side as well as his bonnie side, explains why the Prince and his followers were called Jacobites, and also tells the truth about Charlie's romance with island girl Flora MacDonald.
  • Cover scan of The Jacobites
    The Jacobites
    Antony Kamm - Paperback - NMS
    Who were the Jacobites? What were their aims? What did they achieve? The answers to these questions and more are given in this history of Scotland during the Jacobite risings.
  • Cover scan of The Story Of Bonnie Prince Charlie
    The Story Of Bonnie Prince Charlie
    David Ross - Hardback - Waverley
    This is the exciting story of how, over 250 years ago, Prince Charles Edward Stuart led a poor but proud army into England to seize the British throne for the Stuarts - and almost won.

Internet Links

Prince Henry?

Painting of Prince Henry, long thought to be of Prince Charlie

This painting, by Maurice-Quentin La Tour, has long been thought to be of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Recent research, however, suggests it's much more likely to be his brother, Prince Henry.

Imaged licensed from

Prince Charles?

Portait of Prince Charles by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet

Portrait of Prince Charles, by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet