It might have been very different….

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Charles Edward Stuart   —-   Bonnie Prince Charlie

Standing in the shadow of  Derby Cathedral*, is this statue to commemorate the visit to Derby of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.  I say visit, but really it was his Army’s Occupation (all be it briefly) of the Town of Derby.

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It was all to do with the Jacobite Uprising in Scotland in 1745….known simply as the 45.  It started in August at Glenfinnan, when Prince Charlie started  to amass a Jacobite Army in Scotland.  The plan was to march to London and retake the Crown of Britain for his Father Charles Francis Edward Stuart, who expressed Claim to the Throne.  Support was substantial and he marched south.  Taking Edinburgh, defeated English Troops at the Battle of Prestonpans.  Crossed the Scottish border into England secured Carlisle Castle and marched on south. Prince Charlie arrived in Derby on December 4th 1745.  Not a bad achievement for a large army that had to travel by foot.

It was here in Derby that things changed.  Many suggest that if Charlie had stuck to his plans the History of the British Throne could have been so much different.  But his pause at Derby allowed time for his advisors to gather up-to-date intelligence of what might lie ahead for the Jacobite Army.  True, the British Army was being organised and a fighting force built to repel the Jacobite’s.  Maybe Charlies advisors were correct in persuading him to rethink his plans, maybe if he had gone forward his Jacobite Army could have overcome that anticipated resistance. Who really knows what that outcome would have been.

What we do know is that 2 days later on the 6th December 1745, Prince Charlie made the decision to return to Scotland.

It was along slow return journey.  His army became demoralised.  The slow progress gave the British Army time to build and pursue the Jacobite’s.  They caught up with them at Culloden.  On April 16th 1746, The Duke of Cumberland engaged the Jacobite Army. It was by all accounts a massacre.  The British Army had superior numbers, they had Cannon Power and highly maneuverable Cavalry.  The Battle of Culloden was won by the stronger British Forces. The Jacobite Rebellion was over.

_DOI0577qqq Despite the bloody and crushing defeat, Charles Edward Stuart has remained in the hearts of many.  Despite the blood shed and failure the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie has been and still is romanticised…. folk lore, legend, tragedy and the real history all blending together… the lines of truth becoming blurred.

I say, romanticised as Bonnie Prince Charlie is immortalised in the famous Scottish Ballard… ‘The Skye Boat Song‘.

” Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye “

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So Charles Edward Stuart made his escape.  The British Army began building extensive defences across the Highlands to deter  a further uprising. Those tensions around identity continue today.

  •   I mentioned Derby Cathedral.But in 1745 it was called All Saints, Derby’s Parish Church.  All Saints was only made a Cathedral in 1927.

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

23rd February

(C) David Oakes 2021

2 thoughts on “It might have been very different….

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