1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles Edward

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CHARLES EDWARD [Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart] (1720–1788), English prince, called the “Young Pretender” and also the “Young Chevalier,” was born at Rome on December 31st, 1720. He was the grandson of King James II. of England and elder son of James, the “Old Pretender,” by whom (as James III.) he was created at his birth prince of Wales, the title he bore among the English Jacobites during his father’s lifetime. The young prince was educated at his father’s miniature court in Rome, with James Murray, Jacobite earl of Dunbar, for his governor, and under various tutors, amongst whom were the learned Chevalier Ramsay, Sir Thomas Sheridan and the abbé Légoux. He quickly became conversant with the English, French and Italian languages, but all his extant letters written in English appear singularly ill-spelt and illiterate. In 1734 his cousin, the duke of Liria, afterwards duke of Berwick, who was proceeding to join Don Carlos in his struggle for the crown of Naples, passed through Rome. He offered to take Charles on his expedition, and the boy of thirteen, having been appointed general of artillery by Don Carlos, shared with credit the dangers of the successful siege of Gaeta.

The handsome and accomplished youth, whose doings were eagerly reported by the English ambassador at Florence and by the spy, John Walton, at Rome, was now introduced by his father and the pope to the highest Italian society, which he fascinated by the frankness of his manner and the grace and dignity of his bearing. In 1737 James despatched his son on a tour through the chief Italian cities, that his education as a prince and man of the world might be completed. The distinction with which he was received on his journey, the royal honours paid to him in Venice, and the jealous interference of the English ambassador in regard to his reception by the grand-duke of Tuscany, show how great was the respect in which the exiled house was held at this period by foreign Catholic powers, as well as the watchful policy of England in regard to its fortunes. The Old Pretender himself calculated upon foreign aid in his attempts to restore the monarchy of the Stuarts; and the idea of rebellion unassisted by invasion or by support of any kind from abroad was one which it was left for Charles Edward to endeavour to realize. Of all the European nations France was the one on which Jacobite hopes mainly rested, and the warm sympathy which Cardinal Tencin, who had succeeded Fleury as French minister, felt for the Old Pretender resulted in a definite scheme for an invasion of England to be timed simultaneously with a prearranged Scottish rebellion. Charles was secretly despatched to Paris in January 1744. A squadron under Admiral Roquefeuil sailed from the coast of France. Transports containing 7000 troops, to be led by Marshal Saxe, accompanied by the young prince, were in readiness to set sail for England. A severe storm effected, however, a complete disaster without any actual engagement taking place.

The loss in ships of the line, in transports, and in lives was a crushing blow to the hopes of Charles, who remained in France for over a year in a retirement which he keenly felt. He had at Rome already made the acquaintance of Lord Elcho and of John Murray of Broughton; at Paris he had seen many supporters of the Stuart cause; he was aware that in every European court the Jacobites were represented in earnest intrigue; and he had now taken a considerable share in correspondence and other actual work connected with the promotion of his own and his father’s interests. Although dissuaded by all his friends, on the 13th of July 1745 he sailed from Nantes for Scotland on board the small brig “La Doutelle,” which was accompanied by a French man-of-war, the “Elisabeth,” laden with arms and ammunition. The latter fell in with an English man-of-war, the “Lion,” and had to return to France; Charles escaped during the engagement, and at length arrived on the 2nd of August off Erisca, a little island of the Hebrides. Receiving, however, but a cool reception from Macdonald of Boisdale, he set sail again and arrived at the bay of Lochnanuagh on the west coast of Inverness-shire.

The Macdonalds of Clanranald and Kinloch Moidart, along with other chieftains, again attempted to dissuade him from the rashness of an unaided rising, but they yielded at last to the enthusiasm and charm of his manner, and Charles landed on Scottish soil in the company of the “Seven Men of Moidart” who had come with him from France. Everywhere, however, he met with discouragement among the chiefs, whose adherence he wished to secure; but at last, by enlisting the support of Cameron of Lochiel, he gained a footing for a serious rebellion. With secrecy and speed communications were entered into with the known leaders of the Highland clans, and on the 19th of August, in the valley of Glenfinnan, the standard of James III. and VIII. was raised in the midst of a motley but increasing crowd. On the same day Sir John Cope at the head of 1500 men left Edinburgh in search of Charles; but, fearing an attack in the Pass of Corryarrick, he changed his proposed route to Inverness, and Charles thus had the undefended south country before him. In the beginning of September he entered Perth, having gained numerous accessions to his forces on his march. Crossing the Forth unopposed at the Fords of Frew and passing through Stirling and Linlithgow, he arrived within a few miles of the astonished metropolis, and on the 16th of September a body of his skirmishers defeated the dragoons of Colonel Gardiner in what was known as the “Canter of Coltbrig.” His success was still further augmented by his being enabled to enter the city, a few of Cameron’s Highlanders having on the following morning, by a happy ruse, forced their way through the Canon-gate. On the 18th he publicly proclaimed James VIII. of Scotland at the Market Cross and occupied Holyrood.

Cope had by this time brought his disappointed forces by sea to Dunbar. On the 20th Charles met and defeated him at Prestonpans, and returned to prosecute the siege of Edinburgh Castle, which, however, he raised on General Guest’s threatening to lay the city in ruins. In the beginning of November Charles left Edinburgh, never to return. He was at the head of at least 6000 men; but the ranks were being gradually thinned by the desertion of Highlanders, whose traditions had led them to consider war merely as a raid and an immediate return with plunder. Having passed through Kelso, on the 9th of November he laid siege to Carlisle, which capitulated in a week. Manchester received the prince with a warm welcome and with 150 recruits under Francis Towneley. On the 4th of December he had reached Derby and was within ten days’ march of London, where the inhabitants were terror-struck and a commercial panic immediately ensued. Two armies under English leadership were now in the field against him, one under Marshal Wade, whom he had evaded by entering England by the west, and the other under William, duke of Cumberland, who had returned from the continent. London was not to be supposed helpless in such an emergency; Manchester, Glasgow and Dumfries, rid of his presence, had risen against him, and Charles paused. There was division among his advisers and desertion among his men, and on the 6th of December he reluctantly was forced to begin his retreat northward. Closely pursued by Cumberland, he marched by way of Carlisle across the border, and at last stopped to invest Stirling Castle. At Falkirk, on the 17th of January 1746, he defeated General Hawley, who had marched from Edinburgh to intercept his retreat. A fortnight later, however, Charles raised the siege of Stirling, and after a weary though successful march rested his troops at Inverness. Having taken Forts George and Augustus, and after varying success against the supporters of the government in the north, he at last prepared to face the duke of Cumberland, who had passed the early spring at Aberdeen. On the 8th of April the duke marched thence to meet Charles, whose little army, exhausted with a futile night march, half-starving, and broken by desertion, was completely worsted at Culloden on the 16th of April 1746.

This decisive and cruel defeat sealed the fate of Charles Edward and the house of Stuart. Accompanied by the faithful Ned Burke and a few other followers, Charles at last gained the wild western coast. Hunted hither and thither, he wandered on foot or cruised restlessly in open boats among the many barren isles of the Scottish shore, enduring the greatest hardships with marvellous courage and cheerfulness. Charles, upon whose head a reward £30,000 had a year before been set, was thus for over five months relentlessly pursued by the troops and spies of the government. Disguised in female attire and aided by a passport obtained by the devoted Flora Macdonald, he passed through Skye and parted from his gallant conductress at Portree. Towards the end of July he took refuge in the cave of Coiraghoth in the Braes of Glenmoriston, and in August he joined Lochiel and Cluny Macpherson, with whom he remained in hiding until the news was brought that two French ships were in waiting for him at the place of his first arrival in Scotland—Lochnanuagh. He embarked with speed and sailed for France, reaching the little port of Roscoff, near Morlaix, on the 29th of September 1746. He was warmly welcomed by Louis XV., and ere long he was again vigorously intriguing in Paris, and even in Madrid. So far as political assistance was concerned, his efforts proved fruitless, but he became at once the popular hero and idol of the people of Paris. So enraged was he with his brother Henry’s acceptance of a cardinal’s hat in July 1747, that he deliberately broke off communication with his father in Rome (who had approved the step), nor did he ever see him again. The enmity of the British government to Charles Edward made peace with France an impossibility so long as she continued to harbour the young prince. A condition of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded in October 1748, was that every member of the house of Stuart should be expelled the French dominions. Charles had forestalled the proclamation of the treaty by an indignant protest against its injustice, and a declaration that he would not be bound by its provisions. But his indignation and persistent refusal to comply with the request that he should voluntarily leave France had to be met at last with force: he was apprehended, imprisoned for a week at Vincennes, and on the 17th of December conducted to the French border. He lingered at Avignon; but the French, compelled to hard measures by the English, refused to be satisfied; and Pope Benedict XIV., alarmed by the threat of a bombardment of Civita Vecchia, advised the prince to withdraw. Charles quietly disappeared; for years Europe watched for him in vain. It is now established, almost with certainty, that he returned to the neighbourhood of Paris; and it is supposed that his residence was known to the French ministers, who, however, firmly proclaimed their ignorance. In 1750, and again, it is thought, in 1754, he was in London, hatching futile plots and risking his safety for his hopeless cause, and even abjuring the Roman Catholic faith in order to further his political interests.

During the next ten years of his life Charles Edward’s illicit connexion with Miss Clementina Walkinshaw (d. 1802), whom he had first met at Bannockburn House while conducting the siege of Stirling, his imperious fretful temper, his drunken habits and debauched life, could no longer be concealed. He wandered over Europe in disguise, alienating the friends and crushing the hopes of his party; and in 1766, on returning to Rome at the death of his father, he was treated by Pope Clement XIII. with coldness, and his title as heir to the British throne was openly repudiated by all the great Catholic powers. It was probably through the influence of the French court, still intriguing against England, that the marriage between Charles (now self-styled count of Albany) and Princess Louise of Stolberg was arranged in 1772. The union proved childless and unhappy, and in 1780 the countess fled for refuge from her husband’s drunken violence to a convent in Florence, where Charles had been residing since 1774. Later, the countess of Albany (q.v.) threw herself on the protection of her brother-in-law Henry, Cardinal York, at Rome, and the formal separation between the ill-matched pair was finally brought about in 1784, chiefly through the kind offices of King Gustavus III. of Sweden. Charles, lonely, ill, and evidently near death, now summoned to Florence his natural daughter, Charlotte Stuart, the child of Clementina Walkinshaw, born at Liége in October 1753 and hitherto neglected by the prince. Charlotte Stuart, who was declared legitimate and created duchess of Albany, tended her father for the remaining years of his life, during which she contrived to reconcile the two Stuart brothers, so that in 1785 Charles returned to Rome, where he died in the old Palazzo Muti on the 30th of January 1788. He was buried in his brother’s cathedral church at Frascati, but in 1807 his remains were removed to the Grotte Vaticane of St Peter’s. His daughter Charlotte survived her father less than two years, dying unmarried at Bologna in November 1789, at the early age of thirty-six.

See A. C. Ewald, Life and Times of Charles Stuart, the Young Pretender (2 vols., 1875); C. S. Terry, Life of the Young Pretender, and The Rising of 1745; with Bibliography of Jacobite History 1689—1788 (Scott. Hist. fr. Contemp. Writers, iii.) (1900); Earl Stanhope, History of England (1836) and Decline of the Last Stuarts (1854); Bishop R. Forbes, The Lyon in Mourning (1895–1896); Andrew Lang, Pickle, the Spy (1897), and Prince Charles Edward (1900); R. Chambers, History of the Rebellion in Scotland, &c. &c.  (H. M. V.)