Jacobite rising of 1745

The Forty-five Rebellion
Part of Jacobite risings
The Battle of Culloden.jpg
The Battle of Culloden by David Morier
Date19 August 1745 – 20 April 1746
Great Britain
ResultDecisive government victory
End of Jacobitism as a significant political force


 Great Britain
Commanders and leaders

The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the '45 (Scottish Gaelic: Bliadhna Theàrlaich [ˈpliən̪ˠə ˈhjaːrˠl̪ˠɪç], "The Year of Charles"), was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was fighting in mainland Europe, and proved to be the last in a series of revolts that began in 1689, with major outbreaks in 1708, 1715 and 1719.

Charles launched the rebellion on 19 August 1745 at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, capturing Edinburgh and winning the Battle of Prestonpans in September. At a council in October, the Scots agreed to invade England after Charles assured them of substantial support from English Jacobites and a simultaneous French landing in Southern England. On that basis, the Jacobite army entered England in early November, reaching Derby on 4 December, where they decided to turn back.

Similar discussions had taken place at Carlisle, Preston and Manchester and many felt they had gone too far already. The invasion route had been selected to cross areas considered strongly Jacobite but the promised English support failed to materialise; they were now outnumbered and in danger of having their retreat cut off. The decision was supported by the vast majority but caused an irretrievable split between Charles and his Scots supporters. Despite victory at Falkirk Muir in January 1746, the Battle of Culloden in April ended the Rebellion and significant backing for the Stuart cause. Charles escaped to France, but was unable to win support for another attempt, and died in Rome in 1788.


Portrait of James, the Old Pretender
James Francis Edward Stuart, the 'Old Pretender,' or 'Chevalier de St George'

The 1688 Glorious Revolution replaced James II and VII, then King of England, Ireland and Scotland, with his Protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William, ruling as joint monarchs. Neither Mary, who died in 1694, nor her sister Anne, had surviving children, leaving their Catholic half-brother James Francis Edward as the closest natural heir. To ensure a Protestant succession, the 1701 Act of Settlement excluded Catholics from the English and Irish thrones, and of Great Britain after the 1707 Acts of Union. When Anne became the last Stuart monarch in 1702, her successor was the distantly related but Protestant Sophia of Hanover, who died two months before Anne in August 1714. Her son became George I, giving the pro-Hanoverian Whigs control of the government for the next 30 years.[1]

Cardinal Fleury, chief minister of France 1723-1743
Cardinal Fleury, chief minister of France from 1723 to 1743, who saw the Jacobites as an ineffective weapon for dealing with British power

Louis XIV had been a strong supporter of the Stuarts but after his death in 1715, French priorities were peace and rebuilding their economy.[2] The 1716 Anglo-French alliance forced the Stuarts to leave France and they were invited to settle in Rome by Pope Benedict XIV.[3] The Duke of Ormond, responsible for planning the 1719 Rising, concluded it had damaged the cause, writing that "it bid fair to ruin the King's Interest and faithful subjects in these parts."[4]

While the birth of his sons Charles and Henry kept the Stuarts in the public eye, James' devout personal Catholicism made him less attractive to his Protestant supporters.[5] By 1737, he was reported as "living tranquilly in Rome, having abandoned all hope of a restoration".[6] In the 1730s, French statesmen began to see British commercial power as a threat to the traditional advantage provided by the revenue-raising powers of the centralised French state.[7] For France, an ongoing low-level civil war was a far more cost-effective way of absorbing British resources than an expensive and risky Stuart restoration. While the combination of clan structure, remoteness and terrain made Scotland the best place to launch an insurgency, but it could be potentially devastating for the local populace, a fact recognised by many Jacobites, including Charles.[a] [9]

The 1737 Porteous Riots in Edinburgh
The 1737 Porteous Riots in Edinburgh reflected opposition to the loss of political power following Union

The 1725 malt tax riots in Glasgow and the 1737 Porteous riots in Edinburgh showed a lack of sensitivity by the London government. In March 1743, the Highland-recruited 42nd Regiment or Black Watch was posted to Flanders; despite warnings this was contrary to an understanding that their service was restricted to Scotland, the move went ahead and led to a mutiny.[10]

Spain and Britain went to war in 1739
Commercial disputes between Spain and Britain led to the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739

Trade disputes between Spain and Britain led to the 1739 War of Jenkins' Ear, followed in 1740–41 by the War of the Austrian Succession. The long-serving British prime minister Robert Walpole was forced to resign in February 1742 by an alliance of Tories and anti-Walpole Patriot Whigs, who then did a deal that excluded the majority of their Tory partners from government.[11] Furious Tories such as the Duke of Beaufort now asked for French help in restoring James to the British throne.[12]

By 1743, hostilities between Britain and France seemed only a matter of time, as French statesmen generally agreed British commercial power was a threat that had to be dealt with.[13] However, the majority of Louis XV's ministers did not consider the Stuarts to be a useful tool in that process, exceptions being D'Argenson and Cardinal Tencin.[14] When Cardinal Fleury, chief minister since 1723, died in January 1743, Louis assumed control of government and D'Argenson was appointed foreign minister in November 1744.[15]