Culloden and our Stolen History 225

Imagine that today’s Scottish Independence movement fades away to nothing – and then J K Rowling and Euan McColm get to write the history that defines what the Independence movement was, and what the Independence movement stood for. Then imagine the effect of 250 years of teaching the Rowling/McColm version in schools, universities and media narrative, until everybody absolutely “knew” that the 21st Century Scottish Nationalists were homophobic, racist, sexist, vicious xenophobes.

Well that is precisely analagous to what happened to the Scottish Jacobites. Almost everything you believe you know about the Jacobites is a deliberate lie. The effect has been to make us think of the Jacobites as on the wrong side of history, doomed, anachronistic and faintly ridiculous. This has succeeded in making Scottish nationalism ashamed of its historic roots, by comparison for example with the Irish, who revere their resistance fighters. It has thus helped blind Scotland to its colonial status, in a way the Irish were never blinded. The whole effect has contributed massively to the national inferiority complex.

Ireland has a much smaller population than Scotland and a fraction of the national resources. Yet yesterday it released economic statistics that showed its economy growing at 4.5%, when income per capita already exceeds Scotland’s by 25%. The national inferiority complex that leads so many Scots to believe that Ireland can be a very successful independent country but Scotland never could, is in many ways rooted to the lies that state propaganda told us about ourselves and our history. And the Jacobites are a key part of that.

What is more, everything you are about to read here is not under serious academic dispute. This is now the accepted truth as unearthed by modern scholarship. This has been the case for a couple of decades now in History departments of our best universities – but has had zero effect on popular opinion, formed by centuries of propaganda.

Let me recommend to you Prof. Murray Pittock’s brilliant Culloden, published last year, and Maggie Craig’s Bare-Assed Banditti, which is written with less historian’s jargon. The book you really need is my next book, a biography of George Murray, but I still have two years’ more research to do before I can write it.

Here is a short list of myth-busting facts about the Scottish Jacobites.

1) Scottish Jacobites were in large majority Protestant, a mix of Episcopalian and moderate Presbyterian; they wished to wrest the state religion back from the extreme Presbyterians. They supported religious toleration – in that important sense they were much more “modern” than their opponents
2) Scottish Jacobites overwhelmingly did not, in any sense, support increased monarchical power or a rollback of constitutional government.
3) Scottish Jacobites wanted above all an Independent Scotland. The first major act of the Jacobites on taking Edinburgh was to repeal the Act of Union. Prince Charles Stuart, acting as Regent for James VIII, on 9 October 1745 did formally repeal the Act of Union. That’s something they didn’t tell you in school.
4) That is why they fought under the Saltire. This was overwhelmingly their banner at Culloden. It did not mean anything different then than it does now. When they carried their saltires at Culloden, they meant precisely the same thing that we mean when we carry them through George Square today.
5) One of the most pernicious lies is that there were more Scots on the British than the Scottish side at Culloden. This is completely untrue – by a margin of four to one. The maximum fencible potential of Scotland at this time – the number of fighting men who could conceivably be put into the field given the population and other unavoidable economic activities – was 30,000. At its greatest extent the Jacobite army contained 12,000 Scots, and there was much turnover. A clear majority of the potential armed men Scotland could put into the field, at some stage turned out for the Jacobites.
6) The large majority of the Scottish Jacobites were not Highlanders.

The idea that it was the intellectually and emotionally stifling extreme Calvinism, the legacy of John Knox and the Covenanters and the begetter of the Orange Order and the Democratic Unionist Party, the most narrow-minded doctrine in all Western European history, which was the force for “modernity” and progress, is self-evidently risible. Yet we have all been taught to believe it and it is implicitly accepted in our received historical narrative.

Similarly we are taught that the defeat of the Jacobites was essential to bring in the Scottish Enlightenment, despite the fact that at least half of the key figures in the Enlightenment were demonstrably Jacobite in their sympathies.

Of course the Jacobites were not a “national” movement in that there was a sizeable minority of Scots who opposed them – just as there was in 2014 (in 2014 a minority of Scots as opposed to Scottish residents, a different question). And the pro-British minority of 1745 was founded in sectarian bigotry, the directly traceable ancestors of the fascist thugs who stormed George Square after the referendum. Those willing to come out on the British side naturally increased in 1746 after it became plain which side was going eventually to win. Just as Parisians turned out en masse to cheer Petain when he visited during Vichy. That does not make the Vichy French the main stream of French history.

By the time we get nine generations back to Culloden, we have 1024 direct ancestors. I can be reasonably certain from family history that some of of mine lie in mass graves with the Athollmen at Culloden. My parents used to live in Incheswood, close by the battlefield, in the days before it was fenced. I have probably visited the site over the years much more than most people. I have never done so without crying for those who died fighting for the cause which is the same cause I work for. We have very few monarchists in the Independence movement, and I am most certainly not one. But that is only one of the many psychological obstacles erected to alienate us from those who died in the very last battle of the Wars of Independence.

I have no shame in embracing this part of our history. Until we get comfortable with our history, our future will remain out of reach.

225 thoughts on “Culloden and our Stolen History

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  • J Arther Rank

    There are many sides to this story. Lets not forget that before Culloden there was an invasion of England. I remember reading in a history of Shrewsbury, my old town, that the inhabitants were grateful
    that Derby was preferred in the line of march. Famous victories or tragic defeats are for school children.

  • Zina Preston

    A most interesting article. I am not Scottish but have ancestors from Logie and Kirkhill who moved south in the 1850s after shiploads of grain were sent out by Beauly Firth and Moray Firth. Thus I feel some affinity for Scottish independence. Thank you for this enlightening article.

  • George Campbell

    There is no doubt that too many of our ancestors died in pursuit of the ambition of Charles Edward Stuart. That he led the rebellion had been enough to make me a republican and I can never hear the romantic version in refrain like “the Skye boat song” without anger and anti-royalist bile rising in my gut. Interesting article, I look forward to more facts.

    • craig Post author

      They fought and died for the end of the Union. Charles Stuart was used by them as a vehicle for that, as he indeed used them for wider and incompatible aims. But the false narrative that it was all just about dynastic change is precisely what I am attempting to counter.

      • MBC

        I wouldn’t dispute that conclusion but would point out it was also intimately bound up with a Stuart restoration, backed by France and Rome. It’s as if the SNP were being backed by Pyongyang for indyref2. Many Yessers and potential Yessers would think twice about supporting such a bid, thinking ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. What are we getting into here. Or ‘the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t’.

        Did you ever see Watkins’ drama documentary of Culloden that he made in the 1960s, using local actors? George Murray came across very well. His last words to Charlie on seeing the inept failure of the cause were ‘be gone, you cowardly Italian!’

        • nevermind

          On the chance of getting my uneducated backside kicked, your point about frying pans, MBC, sounds like an argument without a cause. When you say
          “Many Yessers and potential Yessers would think twice about supporting such a bid, thinking ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. What are we getting into here? Or “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”

          Then you are describing a state of mind limping behind real time facts and current affairs that say ‘you’re already in the frying pan’.

          Scottish people, regardless of their beliefs and wants, are currently looking out over the rim of a very hot frying pan called Brexit, an open cheque commitment that has opened many eyes to the real abilities of politicians.

          If the UK can jump to conclusions, endangering the future of its next generations, us all, then so can Scotland, imho.
          I would like to think that a Celtic Alliance with Ireland, ideally a united Ireland, could offer Scotland the chance to stay within the EU, the price would be a customs border with the UK.
          Hard to imagine, but it would cancel the unfulfilled promises made by Westminster during indyref1, repatriate wiski gas and oil taxes that are sloshing English coffers. Even unionists, wondering why they voted to stay in this ‘ English wreckers yard,’ might prefer real action to empty promises of, well, very little at all.

          We have been had.

        • Muscleguy

          Surely it is more like the current situation where post Brexit many EU etc politicians on the Continent and in Eire have gone out of their way to say ‘if you do then we will make sure the door is fully open to you and welcome’. Diplomatic niceties apart we won’t get overt support but neither will there be organised unhelpful noises off like there were from Barosso last time.

          Last time the Commission would not talk to us without London’s say so. Now both Sturgeon and Salmond have been invited multiple times and given speeches. The Irish invited Sturgeon for a state visit and she addressed the Seanad. They said they had wanted to do that for a Scottish FM for some time but held back for fear of offending Westminster. Post Brexit they don’t care one jot what Westminster thinks any more, they feel rejected and betrayed.

          Trump seems about the only prominent leader who could be induced by Whitehall to come out against us and already has, because golf. But that will and is counter productive. My Remain/NO wife has stated that both the trial of free sanitary products for poor women and girls and Trump’s comments have made her more inclined to be more relaxed at having to vote YES to Remain. Thanks Donald.

  • Stu

    Put away the shortbread tin Craig…..

    How do you square Claverhouse or the Highland occupation of south west Scotland with the idea of the Jacobites being on the side of toleration? The 45 was pure and simple an attempt at Stuart restoration.

    Luther and Erasmus are looked on by many as early revolutionaries and the Covenanters are a clear example of revolutionary desire without the intellectual framework to make the next step which 100 years later would happen in France. To take the side of monarchists against people wanted to carve a new and improved relationship between themselves and the state is bizarre.

    • craig Post author

      “The 45 was pure and simple an attempt at Stuart restoration.”

      By which you mean “I refuse to read any of the recent historical research you refer to. I do not care what the documentary evidence written by the participants in the rebellion says. I am going to maintain that what really happened is what I have always been told. Because thinking hurts me.”

        • craig Post author

          I recommend Murray Pittock’s and Maggie Craig’s books as a way in. Pittock quotes extensively from other research and has a good bibliography and footnotes which you can follow up if you wish to delve.

        • Peter Beswick

          “I have no shame in embracing this part of our history. Until we get comfortable with our history, our future will remain out of reach.”

          Tormented histories largely play out to tormented futures.

          I agree that many Independence supporters futures will be out of grasp, even if it is realised.

          Malcontents will become satiated by their dreams come true and pass on to their next project. eg Nigel Farage’s announcement that he will leave Britain now his job is done.

          Anybody whose principal goal, whilst current global tensions and inequities spiral further out of control, is for independence for Scotland; and knowingly clinging onto stultified ambition. They need to look at what the present’s future hold for them and not the past’s

      • Stu

        I certainly won’t be buying the Craig romance and Pittock’s new research seems to sit conveniently with the political tenor of all of his other books.

        It may be true that not all the leaders were as invested in restoring the Stuarts in London, a lot of them seem to have been more motivated by the Act of Union hitting them in the pocket. However Charles and his backers in Rome and Paris were never going to settle for Scotland and if they were successful do believe he would have reigned anywhere else other than London? What were the Stuarts’s plans for Ireland?

        Whatever independence Scotland had was lost with the Union of the crowns, the history of the 17th century shows this. A return to Stuart hegemony is not independence. You might believe that there is a buried counter narrative which is contrary to the actual events and contemporary European politics which shows Jacobitism to be a progressive form of Scots nationalism which is relevant to us today. I believe that the Jacobite rebellion was led by Lords from the areas of Scotland where feudalism was most deeply entrenched and education was barely known. I believe the Highland Host, the Killing Time, the 15, the 45 were all attempts at rerooting feudalism in areas of Scotland where people were beginning to think independently.

        I find it funny that you claim i’m supporting some sort of simplified version of Scottish history. The simplified version erases the nature of religious conflicts that rages for almost 200 years and obscures issues of class and feudalism. The simplified version sits very well alongside the laughable of notion an aspiring democracy being led by the warlords of the Highlands. The cynic in me wonders why the Jacobite cause is so prominent in Scottish education and public debate but the Radical War and the great social campaigners of the 19th century are almost invisible….

        I am always open to new information though and if you can provide links to any documents which outline the Jacobite’s post 45 plans for Scotland and England i would be very interested to read them.

        • Ewan Macintyre

          John Lorne Campbell wrote the following about ’45 Rising:

          “In Scotland, particularly since the time of the Covenant and the Montrose wars partisan writers have always been wont to describe the Highlanders as barbarous in manners and uncouth in speech. This propaganda, which is of a type now familiar to many of us, soon crystallised into an accepted opinion, adopted by most Scottish (and practically all English) historians, who have been almost without exception ignorant of the language of the people whom they condemned. It is astonishing in any case that any historian should feel himself properly equipped to write the history of his country while remaining in ignorance of the language spoken over half its area.”

          (Highland Songs of the Forty-Five edited by John Lorne Campbell (1933 &1984)).

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        A bit hard on your critic, Craig, making him say what you desire.
        And letters, documents and anecdotes at the time can be faulty and unfounded, as Tory historiography proves in Brogham’s case as many of the participants proved unwilling to discuss him, preferring to repeat damning stories about him The media was a much better guide about what was happening as the reporting in The Times et al. proved

    • craig Post author

      It is certainly true the Covenanters are a complicated and interesting phenomenon. The movement was in part a temporary vehicle for a Scottish national expression, certainly, and for popular discontent with the aristocracy. But the Putney Debates disprove the thesis that there did not exist any intellectual basis for social revolutionary discourse by the mid seventeenth century – there certainly did. At the heart of the Covenant was a deeply unpleasant religious cult whose baleful effects still haunt Scotland.

      • Stu

        We can clearly see differing areas of political and social developments at home and abroad today even with global mass communication. I don’t think there is any comparison between the make up of the New Model Army and the Covenanters. The Covenanters were undoubtedly absolutists but they were men of their time and chinks of modern thought can be seen in their demands even though they are focused on religion.

        The Church of Scotland and it’s offshoots have certainly been reactionary but they have also created an environment where the enlightenment, radicalism and socialism all flourished and the Kirk is now entirely reasonable on the vast majority of social issues. It strikes me as very much a least worst option.

        • MBC

          I studied this period in some depth, and the church politics of it. It is just very complicated. There are no clear goodies and baddies to our modern way of thinking. There were progressive elements on both the Episcopalian side and the Covenanting side.

          The Covenanters objected to the Erastianism of the Episcopalian church. This was both theological and political. Theological, in that they felt that the head of the church, if there had to be one, should not be a secular person, particularly not a king of the louche character of Charles II. Political, in that the king appoints the bishops, which makes them the king’s men – this in a time when the church was responsible for a great many areas of secular life such as education and welfare which are today in the hands of civil secular authorities. It’s not just a matter of religion but of society. So the political appointment of bishops gives them and the king a whole raft of social powers and social control that the Covenanters thought they ought not to have, but ought to reside at the local popular level. So that makes the Covenanters political radicals. But theologically, as their detractors constantly like to point out, theirs was a severe religion that was highly conservative both intellectually and socially. The term ‘radical conservatives’ may seem to be a contradiction in terms, but they were both.

          The Episcopalians were in some ways more liberal intellectually. (So long as the theology didn’t upset the social order). They were more open to different shades of theological belief and more elaborate forms of worship. But at the same time, there was a very strong feudal element in them, in that it was overwhelmingly the aristocratic and upper classes who supported them, because Episcopacy was part of the medieval patronage system from which the upper classes benefitted. In part this was political, in that they wanted to keep the feudal social order much as it was. In part it was cultural in that their wealth meant that they had more refined tastes and they liked to see that reflected in the church. It made them feel more at home and a nicer experience for them. Than sitting in a plain church on hard seats with no music bar the unaccompanied metrical psalms. Fancy music, plush vestments and church decor etc. was more to their liking. A more intellectually broader and tasteful sermon. More ritual. Or as the Covenanters would have it, ‘popery’. Fantoosh ornamentation meant nothing to the poor who had never experienced it, and who cleaved to their ‘honest poverty’ and elevated it as a nobler form of asceticism and purer religion in stoical defiance of the upper classes. It was the lower ranks of Scottish society who flocked to the later Covenanters and their successors in the eighteenth century.

          I think if any of us moderns were to find ourselves back in those times we might find ourselves hard pressed which side to identify with.

    • Dave McCloskey

      Er, you appear to be talking out of your arse!! A swallower of empire led history…remember, history is written by the winners, the truth is lost!

  • Iain Ferguson

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece of our history. For myself it is something that really needs to get out in the miserable times that we now have to live in thanks to a corrupt and dishonest UK Government, a dishonest and warped MSM and the propaganda machine that passes for the BBC that we are all under threat having to pay for.

    I long for the day my beloved Scotland becomes free of this filthy so called union that in reality is anything but.

    • Peter Beswick

      Welcome to the lost and found dept.

      We have a few heritages behind here, would you care to describe yours? And I will see if we have it.

  • Lesley Haycock

    I’m not Scottish, I was born English. I may have some Scottish ancestry, but the point being I can’t claim any connection to Scotland.
    However, I’m very moved by your article, and very happy that people like yourself are speaking about the truth which was intentionally bured.
    Aware that, on one level, I am an outsider, and therefore maybe have no right to comment, I fully support any country recovering it’s independence – particularly Scotland being a neighbouring country to my own.
    I will look out for your book, and read it with interest.
    Congratulations on your article.

  • Peter Tuffy

    Yes I like you cried on my first visit to Colloden, it is etched strongly in my present day psych.

  • Republicofscotland

    Excellent article Craig, you’re not alone with regards to the truth about Cullodeon, and how we were taught “a version of it” at school, and of course the emotional ties it has with Scots who want independence, is well known.

    Lately emotions have also been focused on Thomas Muir, and those who led the Radical war of 1820.

    Scots really need to be taught their own history in Schools across the land.

    Alas the Scottish Cringe is still alive and well, as is the religious bigoted mantra of the pro-unionist foot soldiers in Scotland.

    • reel guid


      The slogan of the 1820 uprising was ‘Scotland Free or a Desert’.

      That slogan still applies to modern Scotland. If we don’t get independence our businesses and industries, our public services and our self respect are sold down the river.

  • Robbie Handy

    I didn’t know about the Jacobites repealing the act of union and probably had thought they were more focused on restoring throne than freeing Scotland.
    If they were as progressive as you say then their version of monarchy might have been better for the majority people than that of the Hanoverians. I’d still rather there were no totals though.
    Interested to read the books you recommend and get a fuller picture.
    Another thing that makes me feel uncomfortable about tying the modern struggle for Scottish Indy with the Jacobites is that my understanding is that a fair few from their higher ranks went to places like Jamaica and made money from a vile trade. Then they became part of the same elite with Hanoverians they’d been fighting. This might have been a minority but you can still visit the stately homes that blood money paid for.
    I see some articles (not on this site) from Indy supporters equating the clearances and experiences of other exiled Jacobites who became indentured servants (like the Redlegs in Barbados) with the experience of African slaves. I don’t think it’s a valid comparison and it’s not useful. And it plays into a narrative of victimhood that’s not good for us. Scots (including some Jacobites) went to places like Jamaica with their eyes open and exploited the situation fully.
    While it’s important to recognise the contribution and sacrifice Jacobites made it’s also crucial Scotland faces up to the part it played in the British Empire.
    That way we’ll have a rounded picture of our history and can build bridges with other countries in a more humble and far less superior and paternalistic way than Britain has done.
    If we don’t do this we’re doomed to repeat some of the mistakes of the past and won’t be an inclusive modern independent nation that looks and feels sig ificantly different to people living here and to the outside world. We need to exorcise the ghosts of empire from our national psyche. And it’ll take more than independence itself to do that.

    • Kempe

      They didn’t repeal the Act of Union, they weren’t in a position to do so, they just refused to recognise it.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    The following poem was posted recently on a Bella Caledonia thread. With Craig’s indulgence I will repost it here.

    “If you had seen this toast before it was made,
    You’d lift up your hands and bless marmalade!” (Adapted)

    The apple of identity crumbles on the tongue
    as shortbread from a tartan tin
    or oatcake too thin to bear the buttered blade.
    (Our dentures fix their nerveless grin).

    Some worm by ear insinuated
    hath drilled our brain into a riddle.
    Each kernel of thought drops through a slot.
    A glut of glume bestrews our griddle.

    From ransacked mouth the husks still spill.
    From cankered core pour hollow pips.
    All fail to germinate on half-baked floor.
    A tongue of Highland Toffee licks our lips.

    Native recipes we scorn to approve.
    No peat-smoke reek! No Teuchters’ Babel!
    Only Full English Breakfast on North British Stove!
    Thick Cumberland sausage will command our Table!
    A note regarding the “toast” couplet at the top. The original is:

    “Had you seen these roads before they were made.
    You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade.”

    Sir Walter Scott quotes it somewhere, but the apparent attribution is to Major William Caulfeild (sic), who took over from Field Marshall George Wade (1673-1748) with road, bridge, and fort construction in the North of Scotland, designed to facilitate British troop movements in the quelling of the Jacobite insurrections. In 1725 Wade had been appointed “Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s forces, castles, forts and barracks in North Britain”.

    For those who can cope, here is a Gaelic version of the poem:

    Ubhal an dearbh-aithne, bruanach air teanga,
    mar spruan cho fuadain ri tartan an tiona,
    no aran-coirce ro thana fo sgithinn làn ìme.
    Ar fiaclan-brèig’ a’ cur drèin gun chlì oirnn.

    Liùg cnuimh gun chagar a-steach air ar cluais.
    Chagainn i gu slìogach ar n-eanchainn na ruideal.
    Tro mhogall nan toll sgiolc smaogail ar smuain.
    Am moll sgaoilt gu mall ann am meall air a’ ghreideil.

    Beul bochd air a’ phoca ga bhòcadh le càth.
    Cridhe crìon na chriathar a nì liath gach silean.
    Gun gin a’ ginideachadh air cloich-ghràin an làir.
    Teanga tofai-bò a’ suathadh ar bilean.

    An reasabaidh dùthchasach air a chur suarach,
    le fàileadh ceò-mòna, blas cànan ar sinnseir.
    Fàilt’ air Làn-Bhracaist Beurla, stòbh Breatainn a Tuath –
    isbean Chumbarlainn tiugh a’ toirt bàrr air ar truinnsear!

    (Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh)

  • Phil the ex-frog

    Crying repeatedly at a centuries old battlefield, to which you might have some remote connection, is hilarious.

    My great great great great great great great great great great great grandad didn’t possibly die here for possibly nothing! I am overwhelmed by the commitment of my blood! The Scottish boss class is a better class of boss class!

    • reel guid

      Well if you can’t see anything wrong in a small country having it’s view of it’s own history manipulated and grossly distorted by a much larger neighbouring country then your sense of justice isn’t very highly developed.

      • Phil the ex-frog

        Yeah, I didn’t say that though. You mistake a little mocking of nationalism as an attack on your favourite country. You nationalists are funny.

          • Phil the ex-frog

            Nothing else. I was simply having a dig at the tenuous emotional bonds of nationalism, the cry to fight along side some imagined ancestor. It’s a bizarre rationalisation that, antagonistic as it is, makes me laugh.

  • Robert MacMillan

    Yep i learned from this, i was always led to believe and i think i even read it that there were more SCOTS on the English side than the Scots side, it is a big issue with me that i was not taught Scottish history back home in Johnstone. I get embarrassed when my Welsh niece can sings happy birthday in Welsh and my two Sons can sing it in spanish, and i sit there wondering why i can’t speak a word of Gaelic!

  • J Galt

    I recently read “Jacobites – a new history of the ’45 Rebellion” by Jacqueline Riding.

    Her bio blurb on the cover told me all I needed to know, but I read it anyway.

    Her bias shone through – every opportunity was used to portray the Jacobites as low, dirty and indeed cowardly and the opposite for Cumberland and the Elector’s troops and regime.

    These people give themselves away so easily once you have educated yourself in their ways!

    • reel guid

      Arch unionist scribe Torcuil Crichton reckons it’s the book of the year of course.

    • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

      From ‘BBC History Magazine’ (original article Jan 2006) –

      Nominated (BBC History Magazine: 10 Worst Britons in History [1700-1800]) by Professor Rab Houston, chair of modern history at St Andrews University:

      “The Duke of Cumberland (Prince William Augustus, 1721–65) showed his wickedness in many ways, not least in his contempt for opponents and for his own men who failed to live up to his strict standards.

      He showed a particular disdain for the defeated Jacobites after the battle of Culloden in 1746, who he regarded as cowardly, dishonourable and undeserving of mercy. Thus fleeing soldiers were pursued and slaughtered while the wounded could expect no help except to be shot, bayoneted or clubbed to death.

      At a time when the etiquette of warfare was considered very important, Cumberland was able to dispense with it by labelling the Highlanders as inhuman savages. He even condemned officers who had shown mercy to the Jacobite soldiers after the battle, when his orders were to give no quarter. The Highlanders hated him, renaming a weed Stinking Billy in mockery of the English renaming of a flower Sweet William in his honour.

      In effect, he used the full power of the fiscal-military British state to commit genocide on the mainland of Britain. He was the equal of Cromwell in Ireland, terrorising a whole people into submission.

      The English welcomed the Duke’s victory but opinion turned against him equally quickly. He acquired the title of Butcher because, when told that he was to be made an honorary freeman of a London company for his services against the Jacobites, some wag said it would have to be the Butchers. The Duke’s successes were recognised by his being voted an income of £40,000 per annum in addition to his revenue as a prince of the royal house. It was, in effect, blood money earned by war crimes.

      While much of Cumberland’s reputation rests on the immediate events surrounding Culloden, he was also a strong advocate and savage pursuer of the suppression of Highland culture. He left behind him the largest army of occupation ever seen in Britain in order to pacify the Highlands while permanent fortifications were built.

      He contributed to a policy of cultural imperialism by disarming the Highlands, abolishing the wearing of Highland dress, suppressing certain surnames linked with the rebellion and seeking to extirpate Catholicism from the land. He even suggested transporting whole clans like the Camerons and MacPhersons to the colonies – a sort of ethnic cleansing.

      By helping to destroy the social nexus of the clan that was at the heart of Highland society, he helped sever the bond between chiefs and clanspeople that had been the basis of Highland society for centuries.

      Lastly, by institutionalising the prejudice that the Highlanders were uncivilised, Cumberland also contributed to the racist views responsible for their later misfortunes.”

      – Rab Houston was the editor of ‘The New Penguin History of Scotland: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day’ (Penguin, 2005).”

      Field Marshall George Wade himself, of course, was honoured by a new verse in the National Anthem:

      “Lord, grant that Marshal Wade
      May, by thy mighty aid,
      Victory bring.
      May he sedition hush
      And, like a torrent, rush
      Rebellious Scots to crush.
      God save the King.”

    • Babushka

      “History – principally the inaccurate narration of events which ought not to have happened, precipitated by persons who ought to be forgotten, and written by arid pedants who deserve to be condemned to the perpetual torment of reading their own works.”

      I scribbled the above quote around thirty years ago, for its resonances, without noting the author, who I suspect might be Australian author Patrick White.

      • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

        Yet you feel it worthwhile to narrate to us an (accurate?) event which happened thirty years ago.

  • MBC

    Charles Edward Stuart was a Pretender, just like Labour. He had Scotland, but he never even wanted Scotland. Scotland was just a launch pad for British power. Just like Labour used Scotland for 50 years as a launch pad for British power until it eventually dawned on most folk in Scotland that decades of voting Labour got us precisely nowhere. We were just voting fodder. Soon discarded. Or bought off with sweeties.

    I don’t dispute that many, if not most of Charlie’s followers were anti-union. But they were deluded if they ever thought he was seriously going to free Scotland from the union. Or, that if he did, that it wouldn’t invite serious reprisals and an invasion from England and lasting bloodshed on Scottish soil.

    Historians don’t dispute the Scottish nationalism of his followers. They have just tended to be more interested in his agenda and the geo-politics of what any dynastic change would have meant, had it succeeded, even if it had only been restricted to Scotland.

    This was the age of Great Power imperial rivalry and Scotland would have been forced to pick a side in this game whether independent or not. I think most people in Scotland in the 18th century preferred these European Great Power battles took place furth of Scotland, in continental arenas, or in the burgeoning empire far beyond Europe.

    That was why Charles’ supporters attracted idealists, romantic nationalists, rogues, and desperadoes. Most sensible people opted out.

    But the fact that they did does not mean that the supported the union or thought it was the best thing that ever happened to Scotland. It remained a sad, shabby compromise. But at least it promised provincial peace.

    • craig Post author

      “Historians don’t dispute the Scottish nationalism of his followers. They have just tended to be more interested in his agenda…”

      Indeed they have. That you see is the problem with the kind of eejits who call themselves historians. They are much more interested in princes than the people. They are not actually historians, more engaged in a Hello magazine retrospective.

      • reel guid

        I sense a Craig Oliver book or series on Culloden in the offing. To try and counteract Professor Pittock’s work.

      • Trowbridge H. Ford

        So E. P. Thompson et al. are just eejites?

        Sound like Professor George Dangerfield when I addressed him as one in a letter I wrote him about the Liberal death in the UK.

        He angrily repiled: “Don’t ever address me as Professor,” though that was what he was called in the Stanford Catalogue.

      • MBC

        Craig, believe me, I am on your side. But I hate to break it to you – but what have ‘the people’ ever achieved? What did Charles’ followers ever succeed in doing except bringing catastrophe on themselves and on the Highlands? Did they ever succeed in diverting him to their goals? They were just pawns, victims of his agenda, not agents of their own destiny! Tragic!

        In my years of studying Scottish history, the saddest conclusion I have come to was that we never succeeded in being a republic. Though never an absolute monarchy either, we hung permanently stuck somewhere in between, always critical and resentful of elite power, (the French knights in the Middle Ages were shocked at the uppity attitudes of the hoi polloi in Scotland) nurturing the flame of independence and the power of the people, yet never succeeding in shaking off the vestiges of the yoke of feudalism either.

        Feudalism, or elite control of Scottish society, has just continued in other forms. Lately in the form of Labour paternalism. And the expectation that ‘the council’ should do everything for you.

        I wait and pray with all my heart for the spirit of true independence to awaken in Scotland and that we have the vision and the courage to seize the day and grab our own destiny.

  • JD W

    As always, CM’s flaw is to try to view historical events through the prism of today – he is a supporter of Scottish Independence in 2017 ergo Culloden must be reshaped into a contemporary struggle.

    • reel guid

      He wasn’t saying anything of the kind. Merely showing how generations of Scots have been given a false view of our country’s history and that same narrative has served the unionists.

    • craig Post author

      Forgive me, it is of course obvious that those who wish to repeal the Act of Union in 2017 can have nothing in common with those who wished to repeal the same Act of Union in 1745. Their wanting to effect the same end, living in the same place and being often the biological descendants, are entirely superficial similarities. Silly me.
      Now apart from a declaration of unionist faith, which of the cited facts in the article do you wish to dispute?

  • Ewan Macintyre

    You write:
    6) “The large majority of the Scottish Jacobites were not Highlanders.”

    “Though something like four-fifths of the army which Charles led into England was of Highland extraction…”
    (Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Army, 1745-46; Introduction by Bruce Lenman, Emeritus Prof. Of Modern History, Uni. Of St Andrews (1984))

    • craig Post author

      Depends what he meant by “of Highland extraction”, I think. The main bone of contention I suspect is that Lenman is counting the north eastern coastal plain as Highland.

  • Gina Sim

    Thank you for your brevity, which I hope helps others to be proud of their Scottish past and roots. I certainly am.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Think you underestimate the importance of Petain’s “National Revolution”, and the impotrance of both Hitler and the Free French, especially de Gaulle, in defeating it.

  • giyane

    Perhaps Calvinism/Presbyterianism is comparable to the Muslim Brotherhood in USUKIS’s Arab Spring. In order to wrest power from local tribes and families, USUKIS have sponsored. armed and shielded politically in world forums a savage form of Islam which is easily identified by the religiously educated as the opposite of Islam. We understand in our own times that the creation, funding and support of Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaida have been purely and simply a cynical ploy from the colonisers’ toolbox for colonisation.

    We are able to understand that in our own times only because of the freedom of information afforded to us by the internet. Yesterday as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s PM program Frank Gardner interviewed former MI5 head Jonathon Evans spouting utter bollocks that terrorism ( our own vomit, the result of the funding, arming and diplomatic protection of terrorists across the Muslim world ) will cause us in the UK continuing problems for the next 25 years. Baron Evans of Total Bollocks, this is your reward for playing the coloniser gravy train.
    10 minutes of total garbage on prime news time.

    The history of Scotland is way over my head, but it seems to me that Craig has deployed history as it should be deployed, by casting light from our own enlightened times which has exposed the utter audacity of lies that the political classes are currently doing, onto the historical crimes of their predecessors, the political shite of the English and Americans and their constant manipulation of religion to achieve their bloody political ends.

    • giyane

      It cannot be emphasised enough that in this alliance of US, UK and IS, the IS part are the former custodians of God’s religion of Tauheed/ monotheism. As such they are ideally qualified to instruct their colonial allies in the distortions available to God’s religion. Islamic State was trained by Israel in Jordan, shipped through Turkey in brand new vehicles provided by bent crook Erdogan and given power in Mosul, where they took over the new military equipment of the Iraqi government through a Saudi bribe to the military Head of Command to abandon the Iraqi army positions.

      USUKIS appears to have looked up to find they are in a hole and have now stopped digging. Like a chameleon trying to blend in to the rest of world opinion. We can’t wait 2 years for Craig to research the slander against the Scots. We need to say yes to Craig, point taken, the Scots have been maliciously maligned, and watch that chameleon led by Donald Trump, and splat it like a cock-roach before it moves again.

  • Roderick Russell

    The last few Stuart Monarchs had been truly abusive in their governance of Scotland, and I don’t think that the majority of people wanted this dynasty back again, which is probably why the Jacobites lost. For example Charles 2, regarded as benign in England, presided over a period of rule in Scotland that is known as “the killing time”.

    Let’s face it, the Jacobites had to be appalling in some way to lose to that lackluster bunch, the Hanoverians. If the “15” and “45” rebellions were really more about independence for Scotland than dynastic matters, then those who fought for independence were stupid to ally themselves with the Stuarts.

    Scots history (and historians) are often very polarized – that’s what provides the passion that makes it so interesting.

  • Highlander

    Myth busting can only be true if proved. Creating new myths to supplant the old one does not cut it. Was there a pre-uprising questionnaire handed out to each man to determine their religious denomination, and their views on religious tolerance. I think not.
    Scottish Jacobites overwhelmingly did not support monarchical power is the assertion. How do we know where that balance was? Back to questionnaire I suppose.
    It is asserted that Scottish Jacobites wanted above all else an independent Scotland. If true why move south towards London? Why not stay and defend Scotland? After all the Act of Union had just been repealed, apparently.
    Why would Scots not use the Saltire, as it represented the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew.
    The large majority of Scottish Jacobites were not highlanders. Again this is where the pre-uprising questionnaire would have been our friend.
    To conflate the 1945 rebellion with the current Scottish independence debate, that it in some way informs that debate is quite nonsense.

    • craig Post author

      There is a vast amount of available manuscript material – including a very interesting horde of intercepted private letters – which gives us a very good picture of what individual Jacobites believed in. How do you think historians discover anything? I suggest you start by reading the books I have recommended and then follow up their references, if you are genuinely interested. But of course you are not, any more than you are a Highlander.

      • Highlander

        Yes, genuinely interested but perhaps without the prejudice that you obviously carry. I would think that not too many letters were from the majority of men that actually did the fighting, bearing in mind that large numbers of them would have been illiterate. Me; Born in Dingwall, lived in Nairn (which as you know is near Culloden). Is that highland enough for you?
        The Jacobite rebellion was a tragedy for the highlanders who fought, and lost in it. Only the grievance ridden independence movement would try and cash in on it.

        • craig Post author

          Yes, that counts as Highland OK! There was a great deal of literacy amongst quite ordinary Jacobites, and there is a great deal of material. In particular, an awful lot of letters home that were intercepted by English spies are available. I suggest the Maggie Craig book on this.

          • Highlander

            In my opinion you are giving away your motivation for writing the article when you use use terms like “English spies” rather than Government spies, or just spies. Also in the article you differentiate between Scots and residents of Scotland leaving the reader to conclude that the outcome of the 2014 independence vote would have been different if only the votes of “real” Scots had been counted and those of mere residents excluded.
            Maybe I am being unfair, but I certainly think that you are possibly one of those historians that starts with the conclusion and then finds the evidence that supports it. Starting at point B and working backwards to point A.
            This leads me to query the “facts” you may have polished up (or omitted) during your research to prove that the Jacobite rebellion was an 18th century independence movement, to which Nicola Sturgeon et al are heirs. This is quite wide of the mark as the current independence movement is deeply rooted in Scotland’s central belt and in no way Highland. In conclusion it is a bonny morning here in Nairn and I might just take a run out to Culloden. Which by the way looks different to the way it was in the 1960’s when I used to cycle there. It was covered in trees and the main road ran right across the battlefield past the cairn.

  • Edward Andrews

    The very fact that you write off the Covenanters as “emotionally stifling extreme Calvinism, the legacy of John Knox and the Covenanters and the begetter of the Orange Order and the Democratic Unionist Party, ” must make anyone with any knowledge of Scottish history doubt your whole thesis. What you write is simply not true. When people who are weak on ecclesiastical history wish to produce an all encompassing villain they drag John Knox out of the mixture and seek to repeat the stories about him which we get from Thomas M’Crie who sought to turn John Knox into the same kind of Anti-burgher that he was when in fact Knox was effectively an Episcopalian. You would have been far better to read Jane Dawson who in 2015 gave us a much more measured view of Knox who was a man of his times.
    The fact that you have the obligatory dig at Calvinism, probably without knowing much about it directly, but a lot of anecdotes does not add to your credentials.
    You are suffering from the same kind of anachronistic view of history by invoking the Covenanters as the begetters of the Orange Order, which was an Anglican organisation, and the Democratic Unionist party, which, if they have any Theological basis would be American Baptist. (the only connection which Paisley had with the Covenanters was that he had attended Classes with the Reformed Presbyterians and there there was an old reformed Presbyterian at his ordination.
    It is simply not possible to speak of the Converters as you do. You may be referring to the Cameronians, and their Sanquhar declaration or are you taking about the people who returned to Scotland with William of Orange?
    By all means write a propaganda tome about the Jacobites for our entertainment. Such a work of familiar loyalty is to be welcomed as fiction. However as history we have the facts set out that are to be proved, rather than real scholarship which takes from the facts the events which happen.
    If Scotland is going to get the bottle together to gain her independence it is essential that she stops permitting the Stewarts a singularly unsuccessful family, to blight her future as they had her past. I can only repeat the alleged prayer of the Minister of St Cuthbert’s, that they young man who lately came among us seeking an earthly crown may soon be rewarded with a heavenly one. Charles was a curse on Scotland. it is sad when people try and involve him in the present struggle for independence.

    • craig Post author

      Yet another commenter who replies to my article on the motivations of the Scottish Jacobites by an attack on Charles Stuart, whom I scarcely mentioned and in who I have almost no interest. As for your love for various mad extreme Presbyterian bigots, it’s your life.

      • Stu

        Perhaps Craig you may want to reconsider claiming…

        “What is more, everything you are about to read here is not under serious academic dispute. This is now the accepted truth as unearthed by modern scholarship. This has been the case for a couple of decades now in History departments of our best universities – but has had zero effect on popular opinion, formed by centuries of propaganda.”

        Every one of the six points you make can very much be disputed. The claim of accepted truth is disappointing. The romantic history of Skinuder Burnes was not something I paid much attention to but this is something different entirely. You may be correct but if you are then let’s see the references……

  • shitstirrer1690gloriouscoup

    Covenanters = Protestant Taliban

    – they met their gotterdammerung about a mile from where I live, and I always *chuckle* when I cycle past.

    The new “Chosen People” and the old “Chosen People” = same damn problems.

    Protestants = 20000 varieties of violent disagreement. Make up your own religion and denounce all others for idolatry, romanism, heresy. Ian Paisley did, then so did Pastor Jack Glass because the good Rev Dr was too soft on “papes”. Jack got cancer, which he took as a personal attack by Satan.

    Monty Pythons Life of Brian is the greatest religious work of all time. Stop giving too much respect to mad, violent, idiots.

  • Jimbo

    I would also recommend Scotland’s Ruine: Lockhart of Carnwath’s “Memoirs of the Union”

    The memoirs of the man who uncovered the English bribery. This should be a must read in Scottish schools as part of the curriculum but it has been ignored for generations by tacit censorship.

  • rkb66

    Historical myth busting should become a national hobby, especially as the nights draw in! There is hardly a generation goes by from the Union Acts that some form of common revolt, protest, or political movement fails to emerge with the express purpose of protesting against Westminster rule. As the franchise was extended, there is evidence of Scots continually voting for a different direction. In the face of unrelenting propaganda about the utopia British state, the idea of an independent Scotland has never been quashed. The biggest and most effective self-propagating myth is that of internecine Scots as stereotypical of the nation – a very small squeaky wheel that grabs the headlines but will not derail the direction of travel for too long.

  • Julie Christie

    ALL Scots should take themselves to NMS Edinburgh to see the current major Exhibition: Bonnie Prince Charlie & the Jacobites (23 June-12 Nov) which sets the Jacobites within a EUROPEAN perspective…..had the privilege of a conducted Tour by the Principal Curator.
    2 Tips:
    1. Go early in morning & it is possible to take several intervals & return to special area assigned for Exhibition.
    2. Look up at the ceiling & down at the floor for maps & scaled plans of a Jacobite Palace in Europe.

    Also photograph in Exhibition book of a Jacobite broadsword with the motto: “For the Prosperity of Scotland & NO Union”.
    Apart from Craig’s recommended reading, may I suggest the many titles on the Jacobites by Emeritus Professor Allan MacInnes – apart from his academic knowledge – he has benefited from traditional knowledge handed down by our Jacobite ancestors in Argyll & Lochaber… does Ewan MacIntyre, who has commented on this page.

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