What if Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites Won in 1745?

Adding to Causality, think on this: if Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebels won in 1745 at the Battle of Culloden or before, instead of facing a humiliating defeat, there would not have been a flood of defeated soldiers and their families emigrating to America. The clan system would have endured, at least for a time. There might not have been an American revolution. Consider:

“If: A Jacobite Fantasy” by Charles Petrie (1926): Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) wins the Battle of Culloden in 1745, resulting in George II of England‘s exile to his ancestral home in Hanover, Germany. The “Old Pretender” James Francis Edward Stuart) of the Stuart dynasty is restored to the British throne as “James III ofEngland and VIII of Scotland“, but proves conciliatory in terms of religion and government, and is a great patron of arts and entertainment. When “Charlie” succeeds his father as Charles III in 1766, his adroit diplomatic skills prevent theAmerican Revolution through sharing his own dislike for the House of Commons with the American intelligentsia. Henry Benedict Stuart, who in this timeline did not enter the Catholic clergy, but instead married and had an heir, succeeds his childless brother in 1788 as “Henry IX of England and I of Scotland,” reigning until his death in 1807. In the 1920s his descendant reigns as “James VI of England and XI of Scotland.”
Neal Acherson in the UK Independent considered what else might have happened if Bonnie Prince Charlie had won:
“The political “ifs” remain, none the less, and historians will always be tempted to play with them. The balance of military power in England was heavily against the Jacobites. But what about politics and public opinion?

“People were terrified by the strangeness of the “Highland Army” as it tramped across Lancashire. There was neither readiness to join the Prince, nor enthusiasm to rally round the Hanoverian standard instead. But that sullen passivity weighed on the Hanoverian side of the scales. As an anonymous “English Gentleman” wrote afterwards, “the People preferred the lesser Evil to the greater, and by preferring Fools to Knaves, united to save the Nation”.

“King George II was packing to return to Hanover. The Duke of Newcastle, a senior minister, was on the edge of nervous breakdown, telling himself he ought to join the Prince but unable to take the plunge. Suppose the Jacobites had covered that last 125 miles from Derby to London – what then?

“The school-book answer has for centuries been: fiasco.

“There were not enough English Jacobites to support a new Stuart regime; Prince Charles Edward and his father were too silly and self-important to make the political system work for them; the English people would have risen sooner rather than later against a Stuart restoration which seemed to favour Popery, to endanger the gentry and to put Britain in the pocket of France. Today, 250 years on, that no longer seems to be the only possible answer.”

Diana Preston, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, suggests that a Stuart victory might have transformed the British Empire. England, Scotland and – most importantly – Catholic Ireland would have become three formally independent kingdoms united under one crown. This in turn would have opened up London’s relationship with the American colonies, making possible a far looser pattern of control which might have avoided the War of Independence.

But even if the New Stuarts had proved intolerable, Ms Preston thinks, their very fall would have been fruitful. By the end of the century, their authoritarian style might have infuriated the rising British middle class – not just a handful of radical intellectuals – into the mood for revolution.

These are wild, seditious thoughts to find in the Sunday Telegraph. I take Ms Preston to mean that the fall of the Bastille in 1789 might have touched off a great modernising revolution this side of the Channel as well. That would have probably turned Britain – the “British Union of Kingdoms” or whatever – into three republics, and endowed them with a vigor- ous rights-of-man political culture.

The Scottish historian Bruce Lenman wrote 10 years ago that “the Jacobite political programme was neither ignoble nor unreasonable. Had they triumphed, not only would religious toleration in the fullest sense have come much sooner to the British Isles, but the relations between the three ancient kingdoms of those islands might have been placed on a more equitable footing”.

“The historian Michael Fry argued in the Herald last week that modern Scottish claims to the rising as an independence war are crass. The Prince promised to restore national independence, and the 1707 Union was still widely unpopular. But Fry sensibly insists that most of those who marched with the Prince did so out of loyalty to the legitimate Stuart dynasty rather than “to liberate Scotland”…

As for the “civil war” dimension, that gets more complicated with every new historian’s essay. Once the Forty-Five seemed like the rebellion of the old against the new: Gaelic-speaking Highlanders against Lowlanders, feudal Scotland against bourgeois Scotland, Papists and authoritarians against Presbyterians and democrats.”

In an alternative history group on Facebook, several posters argue that the Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart never really had a chance to restore his family’s monarchy.

Scott Cummings wrote that “If Charles remained in Scotland, he might have had a larger army with the support of a few more clans, but his recruitment efforts were undermined by Scottish Whigs. Scotland was a constituent member of the British Crown and would not have been left independent. Charles’ army at Culloden was 7k men. Theoretically, if all the Highlander clans raised their armies and were outfitted with weaponry, they would have stood at 30k. Two years later, the British army was four times that number during the War of Austrian Succession, which was after losing 20k in the War of Jenkins Ear. The Jacobites didn’t stand a chance.”

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