MOST Scots know nothing about their country and couldn’t even point it out on a map. However, a few will have heard of Bonnie Prince Charlie, an important but rather mental figure in the country’s misty history.

Here are some things aboot BPC that you might not have known. As part of “pretending” to the throne, he styled himself Prince of Wales, complete with German “Ich Dien” (I serve) on a coat of arms.

One of his middle names was Maria. His mother was Polish. After defeat and exile, he made a secret visit to London, where he joined the Church of England. Jeezo.

Unusually for a Scotsman, he became an alcoholic and, though a dandy in his pomp, during his latter years could happily have worn a string vest and head bandage. Above all, as well known, he patented the classic Scottish trait of heroic failure.

He succeeded at least in being born on December 31, 1720 in the Palazzo Muti, Rome, a swanky hoose provided by Pope Clement XI. Those names in full: Charles Edward Louis John Sylvester Maria Casimir Stuart. In Scotland, we shorten this to Charlie.

His old man was James Francis Edward Stuart (Jimbo Frankie Eddie Stu) and his grandaddy Jimbo II and VII, deposed king of Britland, forced into exile.
His mammy was Maria Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of John III Sobieski, famous for beating the Ottoman Turks in 1683’s Battle of Vienna.

Jimbo imparted to the boy a strong belief in the divine right of kings. But the boy suffered from less than divine legs, these being weak, possibly on account of rickets. He was prescribed a regime of dancing, which strengthened his legs but sapped his moral fortitude.

His dad, like many Scottish men back in the day, was emotionally distant. However, Charles did have a governor, the Protestant James Murray, Jacobite Earl of Dunbar (though the boy was raised Catholic). 

Losing my religion
I’m not getting into either the Protestant-Catholic or Scottish-English malarkeys because they attract flaky types wearing small gobbets of knowledge heavily.
Suffice to say, it’s confusing. Chuck’s granda was ousted by the Protestant William, but

it says here the majority of Jacobites were Protestant. Some opposed the 1701 Union. Some just backed the Stuarts. Some were Episcopalians. Some were English, some French, some Irish. 

Certainly, several of the upcoming uprising’s leaders were Protestant. You do the maths.

At the age of 13, Charlie witnessed the French and Spanish siege of Gaeta and was said to have come under fire. In 1737, he was sent on a tour of major Italian cities to complete his education as a worldly dude. 

By the age of 20, he was right posh and had developed a penchant for fine duds and, more ominously, alcohol.

In February 1744, the French government backed an invasion of Englandshire to restore the Stuart monarchy under his father, but after the French fleet was blootered by a storm, the project was abandoned.

Remaining in France, Charles’s boozing and clothes shopping left him in debt and unable to pay the rent on his hoose. However, the Archbishop of Cambrai lent him a country estate where he stayed until January 1745, before moving to the country house of Anne, Duchess of Berwick, in Soissons. Nice digs if you can get ’em.

In Rome and Paris, he met Irish and Scottish supporters who assured him of the strength of the Jacobite movement in Scotland. Thus gulled, on July 5, 1745, he launched an expedition to Scotia. During the voyage, his navy of two ships was fired upon, and one vessel was forced to return to Brest for repairs. 

That was the one carrying 160 marines and most of his supplies, including 1,800 broadswords, eight artillery pieces, and nearly 1,500 muskets.

Chief suspect
STILL, with an army of seven companions, on July 23 he landed on an Eriskay cockle strand. At first, he received a cool reception, with some clan chiefs suspecting he was a doofus. 

But, slowly, he sweet-talked others into supporting him and, on August 19, raised his father’s standard at Glenfinnan, before setting off for Edinburgh with 2,400 men.

Ye ken the rest, the military stuff. Took Edinburgh (city but not castle), defeated Johnny Cope at Prestonpans, took Carlisle (by now with 6,000 men, on through Penrith, Preston and Manchester, until on December 4 they reached the River Trent at Swarkestone Bridge in Derbyshire.

London waited tremulously but, lacking French reinforcements, and disappointed with low English support (Jacobites there having been brutally treated before), Charlie’s aides persuaded him to return north and try again next year.

Game was a bogie. After winning the Battle of Falkirk Muir in January 1746, the Jacobites moved north to Inverness, pursued by George II’s son William, the “Butcher” Duke of Cumberland. 

On April 16, Cumberland caught up with Charles at Culloden, where on a bleak, flat, exposed moor the exhausted, hungry Jacobites fell before the Butcher’s superior firepower.

Oooh Betty
CHARLES escaped northwards, then west to the Hebrides, where 24-year-old Flora MacDonald took him by boat to Skye.

The Herald:

He was disguised as a burd called “Betty Burke”. Thus Charlie. In September, he left the country aboard the French frigate L’Heureux (The Happy One). Back in France, he was initially treated as a folk hero, bagging numerous mistresses. But, in December 1748, he was expelled under an international treaty. 

Undaunted, he told supporters in England that, if necessary, he’d reign as a Protestant. Accordingly, he visited London incognito in 1750, receiving Anglican communion.

After his dad died in 1766, BPC styled himself Charles III, title of the present King of England and the Other Bits. But he was fooling naebody.

In 1771, he returned from Italy to Paris to discuss a Jacobite invasion but was so sloshed that proceedings were abandoned.

He remained sober enough for five minutes to marry Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern but, as his health deteriorated, she started, er, seeking solace elsewhere, and in 1780 they separated.

Charles died in Rome of a stroke on 30 January 1788, aged 67. 

First buried in Frascati Cathedral near Rome, his remains were moved to the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, though his heart remained in Frascati, in a small urn underneath a monument.