Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Young Pretender, The Young Chevalier) was born in Rome on December 31, 1720 to James Francis Edward Stuart and his bride, the daughter of the Polish King. James was also known, unofficially at least, as King James III, but like his son Charles, James never spent a single day on the throne of England and Scotland.
Charles' grandfather, James II of England, was the last officially recognized king in the Stuart dynasty. James II had been chased out of England and Scotland by William of Orange and his wife Mary, who also happened to be James' daughter. But before being exiled to Ireland, James fathered a would-be heir, James III, and even though the younger James was never able to claim the throne, he still had many Jacobite (Latin for James) supporters who believed him to be the true king.
The ruling family at that time, however, (the Hanoverians, after George the Elector of Hanover, and his son George II) looked upon James III as a pretender to the throne, hence the name "Old Pretender," and "Young Pretender" for his son Charles.
One would be right in assuming that the Jacobites did not sit idly by as the Hanoverians solidified their control over Britain. In 1744, James gained the support of France for a proposed invasion of England, the expeditionary forces of which Charles was to lead. This plan however, along with France's support, fell through, but this didn't dissuade Charles. He then went to Scotland where he, even though he wasn't Scottish himself, was able to get several of the highland clans to rally around him in an attempt to restore the Stuarts to the throne. Soon after his arrival in August, Charlie was able to raise a force of around 2500 men, most of them from the McDonald, Cameron and Stewart of Appin clans. The "Young Pretender's" forces captured Edinburgh on the 17th of September and 4 days later soundly defeated a group of Hanoverian forces under the command general Sir John Cope at Prestonpans near Edinburgh.
The Jacobite forces (which had grown to almost 6000 men) began their march toward England and came within 120 miles of London. At that time however, Charles' Military commanders unanimously decided to return to Scotland and join their reinforcements at Perth because of three main factors. First of all, English Catholics did not rise to join their cause, the backing promised by the French never materialised, and most significantly, they were facing a government army several times their size. The Hanoverian army, led by George II's younger son the Duke of Cumberland, pursued the Jacobites and overtook them Culloden Moor. In the ensuing battle, the Jacobite forces were decimated, with about 1000 Highlanders being killed in battle and the Duke of Cumberland earning the name of "Butcher."
Many more Highlanders were slaughtered in the aftermath and, even though most Highlanders didn't take part in the uprising, bans lasting many years were placed on their dress and customs. Through all of this Charlie's supporters were loyal to him and helped him to narrowly avoid capture in the five months following the battle, after which he was smuggled out of Scotland and back to France in September 1746. In 1748, Charles was exiled under the terms of the second Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, stating that all members of the house of Stuart had to be driven from France. He spent the remainder of his life attempting, without success, to gain support for another effort to restore the Stuarts to the throne, even secretly visiting London on two occasions. On his father's death in 1766, Charles returned to Italy where he remained until his death on January 31, 1788 in Rome.
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