Cambridge Historical Reader: Primary - Cambridge Press

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Soon after Londonderry was saved, James II left Ireland and returned to France, where he died a few years later. But, for many years afterwards, there were people in Britain who wished that the Stewarts would come back again.

So, when prince Charles Edward, the grandson of James, landed in the north of Scotland, to win back the throne of his fathers, he met with a hearty welcome from the brave Highlanders. Everybody loved the handsome young prince, with his bright, winning ways; and soon, several thousand men were marching to Edinburgh, wearing the badge of the white cockade.

He entered the city, and went to the old palace of Holyrood; but in a few days was forced to march out and fight the army of king George II, which was led by Sir John Cope. A wild rush of the Highlanders soon put to flight the king's troops; in fact, the battle was over in about ten minutes.

The prince was soon joined by more men, and he thought his best plan now was to march southward. So the Border was crossed, and, in a short time, the town of Derby was reached, which was only a little more than a hundred miles from London.

Prince Charlie had expected many of the English to join him, but very few did so. As his little army passed through the chief towns, the people came out to see the strange sight, but that was all.

So, when his friends said his army was not strong enough to go forward, the prince, with a sad heart, gave the order to retreat.

This was done; and, after many weary weeks of marching, he drew up his little army on Culloden Moor, in the far north of Scotland. Soon, the army of king George, led by his son, the duke of Cumberland, came up.

Prince Charlie's men were tired and hungry, but, in spite of this, they fought very bravely. They broke through the front rank of the duke's army, only to find another rank drawn up, waiting for them with loaded guns.

The fire from these killed hundreds of the Highlanders, and very soon the battle was over. The duke of Cumberland's army behaved very cruelly to their flying foes; wounded men were killed where they lay; and a barn, where a number of men had taken shelter, was burned to the ground.

Colloden Moor


For weeks afterwards, parties of the duke's men went about, burning houses and castles, and turning the country into a desert. Men were shot like wild beasts, while women and children were turned out to starve.

During this sad time, prince Charlie was hiding as best he could. The great sum of 30,000 was offered to anyone who would give him up to the king's men; but these poor Highlanders were so true to their bonnie prince that no one claimed the money.

For months, he wandered about among the hills and glens, sometimes spending the night in a poor hut, sometimes on the bleak moors. At one time, he was hiding on a small island off the west coast of Scotland, and, when the king's soldiers heard this, orders were given that no one was to leave the island without a passport.

Then, a brave young lady, Flora Macdonald, the daughter of a chieftain, came to his help. She dressed the prince as a maid servant, and called him "Betty Burke." She then boldly asked for a passport for herself, her manservant and "Betty," and crossed over in safety to her home in the island of Skye.

Very strange prince Charlie must have looked, for he was a tall man, and he would feel very awkward in a woman's dress. It is said that he was nearly found out by the long steps which he took.

Then, for a few weeks, he lived in a cave with some outlaws, who were very kind to him. They managed to get the prince some fresh clothes, and two of them acted as his guides.

At last, five months after the battle of Culloden, his friends found a ship, which took him safely across to France. One of the last to say good-bye to him was brave Flora Macdonald, who had done much to help him to escape.

Many Scottish songs are full of the praises of "Bonnie prince Charlie." How he was loved is well shown in. the following verse:

"Bonnie Charlie's now awa',

Safely o'er the friendly main;

Many a heart will break in twa,

Should he ne'er come back again."

Flora Macdonald


Prince Charlie never returned, and when he died, forty years later, few would have known him as the "King of the Highland hearts, Bonnie Prince Charlie."