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The Battles of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Hardback)

The Young Chevalier at War

P&S History > British History P&S History > Royal History World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Dr Arran Johnston
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 25 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399061148
Published: 28th November 2023


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Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) was the grandson of Britain’s last Stuart king and the last of his line to fight for their right to the throne. Born in Rome and raised at his father’s cultured and cosmopolitan court-in-exile, the young prince grew up beneath a heavy weight of expectation and yearned for the chance to prove his worth. In 1745, just as it seemed his best opportunity had already passed, Charles threw caution to the wind and embarked on a secret and seemingly desperate expedition to Scotland. What followed is one of the most remarkable, famous, and often misrepresented episodes of Scottish history: the ’45.

This is the story of the last Jacobite rising and the charismatic but controversial prince who led it, presenting a human portrait of the Stuart prince through the words of those who served alongside him. The picture revealed is one of a humane and capable young man taking on a mission far greater than his experience had prepared him for, pushed to the limits of his abilities at a cost from which he never recovered.

Following Charles Edward Stuart over the battlefields of Prestonpans, Falkirk and Culloden, this book reveals the prince’s strengths and flaws as a commander, and the difficult relationships he had with the very people on whom his fortunes, and reputation, would depend. It is the story of how the prince faced conflicts both on and off the battlefield, weathered challenges posed by friends as well as foes, and left a legacy which remains hotly contested to this day.

Article: Prince Charlie and Falkirk

Falkirk Herald

Article: 'New book charts battles of Bonnie Prince Charlie'

East Lothian Courier

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a story! Dr Arran Johnston really brings events and people to life and it’s a while since I’ve enjoyed a non fiction title so much. I’m fascinated by the machinations of the monarchy; motivated largely by greed and a lust fir power, over centuries each royal ‘house’ has contrived to maintain its place. The current so called Windsors are no exception, but as a reader whose DNA is over 50% Scottish Highlander, I find the Jacobite period particularly fascinating.

There are numerous books on the subject; many have a rather heavy academic feel or are written with military tactics in mind. I’m more interested in the people and personalities. Who were these men ( usually) who influenced and sometimes changed history.? What were their motivations and why did they fail or succeed?

This is a lively and engaging read and what really strikes home is that for the first time in some 50 years of reading about the subject, I’ve gained a real feel for the man. He’s more than the myth and legend of folklore and song; he’s became a fully dimensional individual and one whose energy, strengths and weaknesses really come alive. Dr Johnston is clearly an authority on the Jacobites and the way in which he presents account of the battles makes this accessible and enjoyable reading. It feels honest and I can’t recommend this title enough.

NetGalley, Anita Wallas

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed getting to read about this battles, this book was interesting and I enjoyed learning about something new. It left me wanting to read more from Dr Arran Johnston as I enjoyed reading this.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

Bonnie Prince Charlie has intrigued me ever since I watched the film with David Niven, and learned about Flora MacDonald. There was much more to this Jacobite prince than the aura of romance which surrounds him, however. Unfortunately, Prince Charles's reputation has been ravaged, both on and off the field, because of the terrible defeat at Culloden, his actions as a commander and his alcoholism later in life.

The young prince arguably made great achievements in the first place. In only two months, the 25-year old 'raised the standard, assembled an army, secured the Scottish capital and triumphed in his first pitched battle'. Other victories were to come, but, ultimately, it was all too difficult. Dr Arran Johnston restores the Prince's reputation to a large extent, however. It would probably have been impossible for anyone to defeat the English in his circumstances. Lack of French assistance, factional fighting, not enough funds, dreadful weather - the brave young Prince faced them all. He seems to have been an excellent commander who organised councils, listened to all sides and gained the admiration of his men.

This book also reads like a novel as we follow the troubled campaign. It is highly recommended.

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

There's a lot of novels about the Rising and Bonnie Prince Charlie, not a lot of history books that talks about facts and help to understand what happened.
This is a good book if you like history and want to start to learn about this historical character

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

This narrative depicts Bonnie Prince Charlie through the eyes of his followers during the ill-fated 1745 Jacobite uprising. It traces his journey through pivotal battles, revealing a capable yet flawed leader stretched beyond his abilities. Spotlighting his relationships and conflicts, the book offers a humanizing portrait of the young prince at the center of this seminal moment in British history.

Researchers and military history buffs will love this meticulously researched and detailed book. It focuses on facts more than storytelling.

NetGalley, Andrea Romance

About Dr Arran Johnston

Dr Arran Johnston grew up in Derby, where he became fascinated with the story of the last Jacobite rising and its leader. Arran moved to Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2007, completing his doctorate at the University of the West of Scotland in 2018. Arran has been heavily involved in the public history of The ’45 throughout his career, and is the consultant curator of the Battle of Prestonpans Jacobite Museum. As the founding director of the Scottish Battlefields Trust, Arran is an active advocate for increased interpretation and protection of the nation’s battlefield heritage. He lives in East Lothian with his wife and children.

Born on this day - Bonnie Prince Charlie

20th December 1720

Charles Edward Stuart, 'the Young Pretender' or Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of Catholic King James II, led the 1745 Jacobite rebellion against the British throne. Despite initial support, setbacks like the loss of French naval aid occurred. After reaching Derby, they retreated, facing defeat at Culloden in 1746. Evading capture for 5 months, Charles lived a dissolute life in exile. Despite his troubled later years, he remains a romantic hero in Scottish lore.

View all events View all anniversaries

Perfect Partner

Outlander and the Real Jacobites Scotland's Fight for the Stuarts (Hardback)

Outlander has brought the story of the 1745 Jacobite uprising to the popular imagination, but who were the Jacobites, really? Explore this pivotal moment in Scottish history, visiting some of the key locations from Jamie and Claire’s travels. Discover what clan life was really like, read about medicine in the 1700s and find out whether the red coats were really as bad as Jack Randall. Meet Bonnie Prince Charlie and explore how he managed to inspire an uprising from France and then storm England with a force of no more than 5,000 soldiers. Witness the battle of Culloden and what really happened…

By Shona Kinsella

Click here to buy both titles for £34.75
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