Rye House Plot

On 12th June 1683 The Rye House Plot, a plot to assassinate Charles II and his brother was discovered.

After Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 there was a certain degree of concern over his relationship with France and Louis XIV, as well as other Catholic powers in Europe. Some felt he was too close to these powers and, whilst he was publicly Anglican, he and his brother were both suspected of having Catholic sympathies in private.

To try and exclude Charles’ brother James from the line of succession the Exclusion Bill was introduced but King Charles II dissolved the parliament, thereby protecting his brothers inheritance. With tensions high there were a lot of conspirators around and many ideas on how to stop Charles and James and invoke a rebellion that would take them off the throne.

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Rye House in Herefordshire

 

There were several suggestions on how to proceed but the Rye House Plot was one of the most famous and was named after Rye House, about 18 miles from London, where a group of Protestant Whigs made their final plans. It was well known that the King regular travelled to Newmarket for the horse racing, so, a plot was formed to ambush him on his return. The assassins would wait by a narrow lane to attack and the death of Charles and James would help to instigate a rebellion.

Unfortunately, following a fire at Newmarket the races were cancelled and the King returned earlier then anticipated. The plan had to be abandoned. News of the plot however leaked out and suddenly the conspirators found themselves in trouble. The plot was used as an opportunity for the government to arrest several Whig leaders, including Lord William Russell and Algernon Sidney, despite there be little evidence they were involved in the plot. In total twelve people were executed, several fled for their lives and ten men were imprisoned.

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Elizabeth Gaunt

 

Among those executed were Russell and Sidney, as well as Elizabeth Gaunt, who helped one of the participants of the plot, James Burton, escape to Amsterdam. When Burton was captured he named her as an accomplice in exchange for a pardon. Elizabeth was sentenced to death for treason and was executed by burning. She was the last woman to be executed for a political crime in England.

Some question whether the plot was actually real and not just a manufactured tale that Charles used in order to get rid of some of his strongest opponents. Whether it was true or not the story certainly had an effect on the country and is worth sharing. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and stay away from too much plotting.

All the best, K & D

 

 

After Culloden: the Prince and the Butcher

Culloden is considered by many to be the end of the ’45 Rising but what happened to the two men who led the armies at this important battle?

 

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Allan Ramsay

 

Considering the Jacobites first, their leader, Prince Charles Edward Stuart did not fall at the battle but was able to escape the field. The day after Culloden those Jacobites who had been able to escape made their way to Ruthven barracks to regroup. Here they expected to find Prince Charles, but when they arrived they were met only with orders to disperse. Abandoning the cause Prince Charles spent the next five months on the run. He managed to find his way between loyal supporters and evaded the government’s roving eyes spending time in the Hebrides to the west of mainland Scotland. He was lucky in that his men never betrayed him but he knew if he was to survive in the long time he would have to make his way back to the continent.

 

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Prince Charles as an older man

Finally, in September 1746. Prince Charles met up with a French rescue ship and sailed to France. Initially he was greeted warmly but in 1748 following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle , which helped bring the war between France and Britain to an end, he was expelled from the country. For several years Charles lived with his Scottish mistress, Clementina Walkinshaw and the two had a daughter, Charlotte in 1753. The relationship was not to last though and in 1760 it was over amid tales of jealousy, alcoholism and violence. Eventually Charles made his way to Rome and married nineteen year old Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern in 1772. Once again the relationship did not prosper and Louise left Charles in 1780 with claims of physical abuse. From 1783 Charles was known to be ill and was nursed by his daughter but not long after his 67th birthday he suffered a stroke and died on 31st January 1788.

 

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William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

On the Government side the Duke of Cumberland was initially hailed a hero in his defeat of the Jacobites and he quickly set about ensuring there would not be another rebellion. Amongst other things the composer Handel wrote ‘Judas Maccabaeus’ supposedly for Cumberland which contains the anthem “See the Conquering Hero Comes”. Cumberland was also was given the freedom of the City of  Glasgow and made Chancellor of both Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities.  He spent years trying to improve the army but as word of his brutal treatment of the highlands spread his reputation slowly became tarnished and he was given the name ‘The Butcher’.

 

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William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

In 1757 Cumberland was given command of the British forces in the Seven Years War but was defeated in the Battle of Hastenbeck. He was severely criticised for his defeat and publicly reprimanded by King George II. Cumberland resigned his office and retired to his estate. A leg wound he received at Dettingen, in 1743, never healed properly and he ended up gaining excessive weight before suffering a stroke in 1760. In 1765 whilst in London he had a heart attack and died on 31st October 1765 aged 44.

Prince Charles is probably the more ‘famous’ of the two men today with his story being romanticised over the years and his tale focussed on the year he was actually in Scotland. History was perhaps not so kind to Cumberland who is most known by his moniker ‘the Butcher’ more than anything else. It is safe to say though that Culloden was a key moment in both these mens lives. We hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into their post-Culloden lives and as always please like, share, tweet, comment and visit us anytime.

All the best, K & D

 

A week at Culloden

 

This week we have a guest post from our S5 work experience student! Hope you enjoy:

After spending a week completing work experience in the educational sector of Culloden Battlefield centre, I have broadened my understanding of this particular historical profession as well as enriching my knowledge of the battle that has deeply influenced the Highlands. Initially I was apprehensive but was immediately reassured by the friendly welcome I received from every member of staff. The atmosphere throughout the week was great and everyone I worked with was extremely positive and motivational; making me feel like the work I was doing was valued. With little knowledge of what happened at the battle when I began, I found that I learned so quickly by immersing myself in this environment.

Throughout the week I worked on a project in which I created a database cataloguing the handling objects that were being stored at the centre. Through this, I learned so much about the way of life of both the Jacobites and the Government soldiers and discovered some fascinating objects. This also gave me an insight into the nature of a curatorial profession.

I was also given the opportunity to shadow the volunteers who carried out presentations for the public. This was a very interesting experience and I was inspired by their fascination and love for the history of the site.

Throughout the week, there was also an archaeology workshop which I had the opportunity to observe, adding a more light-hearted element- yet still educational- to the day and showing me the versatility of a historical profession.

I also helped to find evidence in response to a research enquiry which involved the use of historical books which was extremely interesting and gave me an indication of the nature of historical research; something I will inevitably use if I study History at University. In addition to this, I researched a segment of the Jacobite army, the Royal Ecossaise, which was particularly fascinating for me as it referred to the involvement of French soldiers: I have French/British nationality. I created a summary of their involvement through the use of historical books for research.

Overall this week has hugely increased my knowledge of the battle, which was such a fundamental part of Scottish History, as well as developing my researching skills. However, the experience was dependant on the support and guidance of the members of the team whose passion and knowledge was an inspiration to me and has secured my ambition to continue studying history.

 

Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan Monument marks the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising and makes a beautiful partner to the battlefield of Culloden, where the Rising met its end. Today we look into the history of the monument and the site where it stands.

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Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel

 

In 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland and made his way up Loch Shiel to Glenfinnan where he hoped the clans would join with him to support the Jacobite cause. He arrived at Glenfinnan with roughly 50 men but within a couple of days his numbers reached 1,500 with support from Cameron of Lochiel, MacDonald of Keppoch to name just two. Satisfied he could make a Rising work the Jacobite standard was raised for the first time and the ’45 Rising began.

Sat at the head of Loch Shiel the monument we see today was put up in 1815, for the local laird Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale, to commemorate the Jacobites who fought and fell during the 1745 uprising. Sadly the monument also became a memorial to Alexander, who died on 4th January 1815, aged just 28 and thus he did not live to see the monument completed. By all accounts Alexander was a flamboyant man who lived in excess. He seemed to have a liking for nice clothes and was not afraid to spend money and this is confirmed by his debts of some £32,000 when he died.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

The monument was designed by James Gillespie Graham, a Dunblane-born architect famed for designing part of Edinburgh’s New Town and considered on of Scotland’s foremost architects of the beginning of the nineteenth century. There has been much debate as to whether the monument marks the exact spot where Prince Charles first raised the standard, but it is safe to say that the site is certainly dramatic and fitting for a commemoration. The tower itself is relative simple, standing 18.3m high and encloses a spiral stair lit by narrow slit windows which leads to a crenulated parapet.

Initial impressions of the tower were not always great with one review calling it ‘a cake house, without even the merit of containing cakes’. Originally there was a small bothy at the base of the tower but this was removed in the 1830’s and the now famous highlander was added to the top of the monument. The statue was made by sculptor John Greenshields and many believe it to be of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, there is a story that tells of Greenshield travelling to Lee Castle where there was a portrait of Prince Charles that he aimed to copy for the statue. When he arrived there were two portraits side-by-side; one of Prince Charles and one of George Lockhart, whose family owned the castle. Only one was dressed in Highland clothes so Greenshields copied this portrait, but, he got the wrong man,  and supposedly the statue is actually modelled off Lockhart instead of Prince Charles.

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Statue at the top of the monument

 

Today, the National Trust for Scotland looks after the monument and houses a small visitor centre, complete with an exhibition about the monument and the ’45. This year the monument is 201 years old and has undergone conservation work to ensure it remains part of the Glenfinnan landscape and also to renovate some of the gorgeous plaques that surround the monument.

If you get the chance definitely stop by Glenfinnan to see the monument in all its glory. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep following the history of the Jacobites from Glenfinnan to Culloden.

All the best, K & D

 

Weapons of the ’45

One of the things that people seem to really enjoy discovering more about here at Culloden is the weapons. Mainly, I think because you get to handle replica weapons. So, we thought we’d attempt a short post on the most common weapons used in the ’45.

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Some 18th Century weapons

Firstly, the broadsword. Basket-hilted swords would have been in use in Scotland from about the mid 16th century. The design came first from Scandinavian and German sword makers before making it across to England and Scotland. Throughout the 17th Century ribbon baskets were being made in large quantities and as we reached the 18th Century and the main Jacobite risings the Highland basket was an intricate piece. The broadsword was an essential weapon for the Jacobties with broadsword in one hand and targe in the other. They were ideal for the favoured tactic of the Highland Charge with sweeping deadly motions and a heavy pommel weight at the base to deal with enemies close at hand.

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Close up of the basket of a replica broadsword

Since we have already mentioned the targe it’s only fair it should be next on the list.

The targe or ‘shield’ was traditionally round from 19 to 21 inches in diameter and made from two layers of wood positioned together with the grains at right angles. Often they were made of fir but most light woods would do the job. Targes were often decorated across the front with a central boss of brass, from which a spike could be screwed in, and this was surrounded by geometric patterns in the leather and studs of brass.

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Scottish Targe or Shield

With the broadsword and targe you may think there would be no room for any other weapons but often the Jacobites would carry a dirk as well. This stabbing knife, sometimes up to 50cms long would be held behind the targe largely hidden from sight and would be ideal for close quarter fighting. The Highland dirk was usually distinguished from other similar weapons of the time by its long triangular and single edged blade and by its handle which was traditionally cylindrical with no guard. It would be shouldered at the junction of the blade, the grip swellin gin the middle and the pommel circular and flat topped.

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Typical 18th Century Style Dirk

Similar to the dirk was the Sghian Dubh. This was a smaller knife only four to six inches in length that was often hidden in a small holster up a sleeve. It would have been used when no other weapon was available and it is believed it was more common in the late 18th Century following the ban of weapons of Scotland. Dubh is Gaelic for black and traditionally the handle and scabbard of the sghian dubh were made from dark coloured woods and leather to keep it out of clear sight.

When the Act of Proscription was lifted the sghian dubh came out of hiding and was then worn mainly in the stocking. In the 19th century when the wearing of the sghian dubh became less functional and more fashionable the hilt would often been made from stag horn or ebony and even decorated with jewels.

Obviously there were more weapons in use and we haven’t touch on guns and cannons but hopefully this has given a little insight into some traditional weapons. As always please share, comment, like, tweet and feel free to come along to Culloden to get a closer look and the weapons of the ’45.

All the best, K & D.