Monday, March 20, 2017


CullodenCulloden: Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire by Trevor Royle, 360 pages

In 1746, the predominantly Scottish army of the Young Pretender - Charles Stuart to his foes, Prince Charles to his supporters, and Bonnie Prince Charlie to legend - was defeated in battle at Culloden by an army of British soldiers and foreign mercenaries fighting for the Hanoverian dynasty.  Subsequently, the restoration of the Stuarts to the thrones of Scotland and England receded into the realm of fantasy.  Never again would an armed revolt come so close to deposing a reigning British monarch.

The Jacobite revolt of 1746 was sponsored by the French as part of the War of Austrian Succession, itself an episode in the century-long struggle for supremacy between Great Britain and France that began in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War and effectively ended at Waterloo.  Although Culloden gives Trevor Royle's book its title, that book is more about the episodes that followed than it is about the Jacobites and their struggle - the battle itself takes place less than a hundred pages in, and the Stuarts essentially disappear between then and the epilogue.  After a chapter describing the pacification of the highlands, even Scotland is mostly left behind.  This is somewhat justified in that many of the men who fought in subsequent wars in America and India were veterans of Culloden, and Royce certainly writes interesting and engaging military history, but it still seems to be a bit of a bait-and-switch.

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