The Jacobite Rebellions (1689-1746)
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In 1685 the Catholic James VII of Scotland (II of England) succeeded to the throne. Almost immediately he faced co-ordinated rebellions led by Archibald Campbell, the Earl of Argyll and James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. In Scotland Campbell's rebellion failed to gain traction with few joining his cause. On 18 June 1685 he was captured and thereafter taken to Edinburgh for execution. Meanwhile Monmouth had declared himself King at Lyme Regis on 11 June 1685. He had more success in recruiting but was defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor. He was subsequently executed at the Tower of London whilst many of his followers were condemned to death or servitude at the Bloody Assizes. These rebellions, although only of limited threat to James VII, were significant for they emboldened the King against his political and religious opponents.
Despite King James' Catholic leanings, the Protestant establishment tolerated him on the grounds his only two children - Mary and Anne - were both married to Protestant husbands. However in June 1688 James' wife, Queen Mary, gave birth to a male heir, James Francis Edward Stuart. Now faced with an enduring Catholic dynasty, a number of senior magnates invited William, Prince of Orange to invade. He was the nephew of the King and was also married to his eldest daughter, Mary Stuart. William landed with his army on 5 November 1688 at Brixham which started a popular uprising against King James that resulted in his overthrow. Known as the Glorious Revolution, William and his wife became joint monarchs subject to constitutional limitations. Reaction in Scotland was mixed with many reluctant to displace the Stuart dynasty which had ruled for over 300 years. Opposition became rebellion in April 1689 when the first Jacobite (the name derived from Jacobus, Latin for James after the deposed King) commenced led by John Graham, Viscount Dundee. Supported by Irish troops and Highland Clans, both of which were pro-Catholic, he had military success at the Battle of Killiecrankie but was mortally wounded during the engagement. A number of further battles were fought but the uprising was ultimately defused when on 27 August 1691 the Government offered a general amnesty to any clans who took an oath of allegiance to the new monarchs. The subsequent massacre of Glencoe in February 1692 did much harm to this attempted reconciliation.
1715 Rebellion (The Fifteen)
A further rebellion erupted in 1715 nominally due to the succession of the first of the Hanoverian monarchs, George I, but fuelled by the Act of Settlement (1701), which formally barred any Catholic from the throne, and the Act of Union (1707) which had merged the Governments of England and Scotland. Opposition was particularly intense in the Highlands and on 6 September 1715 John Erskine, Earl of Mar proclaimed James Francis Edward Stuart as King commencing the second Jacobite rebellion. An initial response to defuse the rebellion - by granting any loyal tenants of Mar title to their land if they declared themselves loyal to George I - had limited success. The Earl was able to mobilise enough forces to capture Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee and even mounted an (unsuccessful) attack on Edinburgh Castle. After just one month the Earl of Mar controlled all of northern Scotland. However, after an inconclusive Battle at Sheriffmuir and a Jacobite defeat at Preston, the rebellion was defused. The construction of a network of military installations and roads was started to prevent further rebellions.
1719 Rebellion (The Nineteen)
Between 1701 and 1713 England and Scotland had been engaged in the war of the Spanish succession. This had ended, from Britain's perspective, with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) which accepted Philip V as King of Spain but, when he sent forces to occupy Sicily in 1718, the British declared war. Hoping to destabilise or distract the Government, the Spanish sought to encourage a Jacobite rebellion headed by George Keith, Earl Marishcal who had been in exile in Spain since the 1715 rebellion. Supported by a force of 300 Spanish soldiers he sailed from Corunna, Spain in April 1719 and occupied the Isle of Lewis before moving onto the mainland via Loch Alsh. He established his headquarters at Eilean Donan Castle disembarking significant quantities of ammunition and gunpowder there but was defeated at the Battle of Glenshiel. In the years that followed a dedicated regiment - the Black Watch - was raised from loyal Highlander clans whilst 240 miles of roads were built to ensure access throughout the Highlands.
1745 Rebellion (The Forty-Five)
In July 1745, frustrated by unfulfilled promises of French support, Prince Charles Stuart sailed to Scotland with two ships - Du Teillay and Elisabeth. Landing on Eriskay he sought to raise the northern clans in a new Jacobite rebellion. By August he had mustered a force and had outmanoeuvred the Government forces to triumphantly enter Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. A subsequent battle at Prestonpans saw a Government force decisively defeated enabling an invasion of England. The Prince reached Derby before being compelled to return to Scotland by his Council. A further victory at Falkirk was achieved in January 1746 but in April his force was defeated at the Battle of Culloden. A direct assault on Highland culture saw Tartan and bagpipes banned (outside of the British Army). The Disarming Act (1746) made carrying weapons illegal whilst the Heritable Jurisdictions Act (1747) stripped Clan chiefs of their legal powers. Whilst these harsh measures were eventually repealed in the 1780s, the impact when coupled with wider economic and social changes ultimately led to the Highland Clearances and an irreversible change to life in the northern part of the British Isles.