Son of James Francis Stuart ‘The Old Pretender’ and grandson of James II. Charles Edward Stuart was known as ‘The Young Pretender’ and by his Scots supporters as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. He was born and raised in Rome. In 1743 his father James named his as regent ‘Charles III’ and in 1745 he raised money to sail for Scotland in two small ships. Support from France was not forthcoming so Charles was left to raise an army when he arrived in Scotland.
Charles has considerably more charisma and leadership than his father, and when he raised his standard at Glenfinnan he found support from many of the Highland clans. They marched on Edinburgh which quickly surrendered, and in September 1745 defeated the only government forces in Scotland at the Battle of Prestonpans. Spurred on by this victory more Scots rallied to the Jacobite cause and Charles and his army marched south into England with around 6,000 men. They took Carlisle and reached as far as Derbyshire before the almost complete lack of the support they had expected from English Jacobites forced them to turn back. Charles was 30 years too late as the Hanoverians were by 1745 firmly established as monarchs in England and there was little mood for change.
George II’s son the Duke of Cumberland caught up with them at Culloden on 16 April 1746. Charles had no military experience, and ignoring the advice of his commander George Murray chose to fight on open marshy land. The result was an almost total massacre when the Jacobite soldiers charged into the muskets and cannon of Cumberland’s army which was supported by many lowland Scots. Cumberland pursued and hunted down the fleeing survivors killing many and earning himself the title ‘Butcher Cumberland’. The result was a catastrophe for the Highlanders and led to the banning of the wearing of kilts and eventually the highland clearances and scattering of the clans.
Charles escaped and spent several months being hunted down. According to legend Flora MacDonald helped him to escape his pursuers and sail to the Isle of Skye disguised as her maid. Eventually he escaped on a French ship back to France. He settled into a life of exile, had several mistresses and took to drinking heavily. He had one illegitimate daughter Charlotte. A French plan to 1759 to invade England and install him as king was abandoned as he was seen as an unsuitable. In 1772 he married Louis Stolberg and moved to Italy where he and his wife were known as Duke and Duchess of Albany. Charles died in 1788. His half brother Henry Benedict became a cardinal and styled himself Henry IX until he died in 1807 (Royal family history: www.britroyals.com)