See all stories
22 Feb 2017

Jacobite Stories: The Aftermath of Culloden

Jacobite Stories: The Aftermath of Culloden
Following his victory at Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland was determined to eliminate the Jacobite threat once and for all.

He wanted revenge: his army would crush the unruly Highlanders in the most brutal way, capture the Prince and return to the main war in Flanders as soon as possible. There was to be no question of a further rising.

Within a few days of the battle, around 1,500 Jacobite soldiers gathered at Ruthven Barracks, ready to continue the campaign. To their surprise, Charles gave the order to disperse and then went into hiding. For him, the Rising was over.

Unopposed, the government sent its troops across Scotland, punishing anyone suspected of Jacobite sympathies. The policy of ‘pacification’ of the Highlands had begun.

Drum CastleDrum is a Jacobite castle. After the defeat, Alexander Irvine, 17th Laird of Drum was listed as ‘never to be pardoned’ but he made his way back to Drum and was hidden by his sister in a secret room to avoid capture from the redcoats. The secret room was re-discovered by archaeologists in 2014.

The government began to dismantle the structures of Highland society. Clan chiefs were deprived of their legal powers and clansmen of their weapons; Jacobite estates were seized by the Crown; and the kilt and tartan were banned.

However, on his return to France, Prince Charles Edward Stuart was the hero of Europe. The story of his bold expedition and romantic escape made him a great celebrity of his time.

His life afterwards was anti-climactic. He was expelled from France in 1748 and spent the next decades drinking heavily and involved in futile conspiracies. He died in Rome in 1788, deserted by his wife and followers.

Charles’s body was moved to St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in 1807 to join his brother’s. His father and mother are also buried there.

The Duke of Cumberland fared little better. His ruthless conduct after Culloden earned him the title of ‘Butcher’, but his next military campaign ended in defeat and surrender. He died in 1765.

Highland culture

Long before Culloden, Scottish Gaels were living through major social and economic changes. This process was accelerated after the traumatic defeat at Culloden. Repressive legal and political measures followed the battle. The ’45 Rising had focused the government’s attention on the region and its people.

For some Highlanders, these dynamic changes opened up opportunities for profit in the British Empire. Others joined the British army. Many ex-Jacobites fought with Loudoun in North America during the Seven Years War, and for King George III in the American Wars of Independence.

But for many others, the destruction of the traditional Gaelic culture and ways of life meant an insecure, increasingly bleak future.

Explore Culloden

Visit now