The Jacobites

James VII was from the royal House of Stuart. He was known as James II in England where he was very unpopular, mainly because he was a Roman Catholic. Most people followed the Protestant religion although there were around 2000 Catholics in Scotland at the time. Religions caused a lot of divisions and wars then, as they do now, and life was difficult for Catholics who were persecuted by Protestants. James II had a Protestant son-in-law called William of Orange. In 1688 he successfully invaded England from Hanover (part of Germany) and became King. Many supported William but some remained loyal to James. Supporters of James were known as the Jacobites.

Many Highland clan chiefs were Jacobites. There were also Jacobites in the North East of Scotland. There were various attempts by the Jacobites to restore the crown to the Stewarts. These attempts are called the Jacobite uprisings.

James II's grandson was called Charles Edward Stuart better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. He led the last of the Jacobite uprisings. It took place against George II of Hanover who was then on the throne of Scotland and England. Bonnie Prince Charlie had been born in and lived in Rome. He travelled to France from there to arrange a landing of forces in Scotland in July 1745. Accompanied by the seven men of Moidart, the Prince landed on the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides on 2 August 1745. On 19 Augusts, at Glenfinnan, Lochaber, the Jacobite standard was raised and the '45 rebellion began. The Jacobites marched to Aberdeen before sailing to Edinburgh where they fought and won the battle of Prestonpans. They continued their march into England and got as far Derby where the decision was taken to retreat to Scotland.

At the battle of Culloden, George II's son, the Duke of Cumberland, led an army against the Jacobites. Many were slaughtered and the killing of suspected Jacobite supporters lasted for months and years. Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped back to Italy where he died in 1788. The Hanovers remained on the throne and it their descendants that make-up the British royal family today.

Targe Jacobite Pistol

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  1. Look at the picture of the Scottish Highland shield or targe. Make a model of a targe, or paint a picture of a Highland clansman going to battle.
  2. Look at the picture of the Jacobite Cell in the Tolbooth. Try to imagine what it would have been like to be imprisoned there. What do you think the prisoners might have been given to eat? What would the cell have smelt like?
  3. The Jacobites had support from the Catholic countries of Spain and France that were England's enemies. Look at a map of Europe. Find Scotland, England, France and Spain on the map.