Donate SIGN UP

Who was the Young Pretender

01:00 Mon 16th Jul 2001 |

The Young Pretender
A.Charles Edward Stuart, son of the Old Pretender, James Stuart. (Click here for a feature about him). He was also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.< xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Q.So what was his claim to fame

A.Being as unsuccessful as his father, I suppose. Charles was born in Rome in 1720.His mother was a Polish princess, Maria Clementina Sobieski, known as Princess Clementina. His father had twice tried unsuccessfully to invade Scotland to seize England's throne.

Q.As did the Young Pretender

A.Once. James Stuart's failures lost him many of his Jacobite followers. Instead he allowed his son, a charming, brave and good-looking young chap, to champion his cause. In 1745, Charles attempted to put his father on the throne.


A.He landed in Scotland with a handful of men in July, 1745 and raised a Jacobite army in the Highlands. On 21 September, with about 2,400 men, he beat Sir John Cope's men at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh.

Q.And moved onward into England

A.Yes. Early in November, with 5,500 men, he crossed the English border and headed toward London. He got as far as Derby before his officers, disheartened by lack of promised French and English support, forced him to retreat into Scotland. On 16 April, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland devastatingly defeated him at Culloden Moor, Inverness-shire.

Q.And he was captured

A.No. Bonnie Prince Charlie became a fugitive. After several months on the run, he met Flora MacDonald on the Scottish island of Benbecula. It was an awkward alliance. Flora's foster father, Clanranald, commanded the government troops on Benbecula, and her fiance, Allan MacDonald, was a military officer.


A.Yes - but with a twist. The islanders feared reprisals if Charles was discovered on Benbecula, so Flora agreed to help him escape.


A.� After hiding him for a week, Flora disguised Charles as her maid, Betty Burke, and smuggled him to the Isle of Skye, where sympathisers spirited him back to friendly France. He and Flora never met again, although legend has it that Flora kept a lock of his hair to remember him by.

Q.What happened to Flora

A.She was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London, but was soon released and became a celebrity. In 1750 she married Allan MacDonald. In 1774 they emigrated to North Carolina, where Allan served in the British army during the American Revolution. He was imprisoned by American forces and Flora returned to Scotland. Allan was later freed. Flora died in 1790 and was buried on the island of Skye, with Bonnie Prince Charlie's bedsheet as her shroud.

Q.What about the bonnie prince

A.He soon became the boozy prince. His supporters abandoned his cause, and he became an alcoholic drifter. Eventually he settled in Rome as the Duke of Albany and in 1772 married Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, but they separated within 10 years. In his last years, Charles was looked after by his illegitimate daughter, Charlotte. He died in 1788 and is buried in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

To ask a question about History & Myths, click here

By Steve Cunningham

Do you have a question about History?