Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the eldest son of James Francis Edward Stuart, “The Old Pretender,” and grandson of James II of England and Ireland (James VII of Scotland). James II/VII was deposed and exiled to Continental Europe by his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange in what is now called “The Glorious Revolution.”
After Mary and William’s death, Mary’s sister Anne became Queen until her death in 1714. During Anne’s reign, Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement, which banned Catholic monarchs from the British throne – effectively disinheriting James Francis Edward Stuart (Mary and Anne’s brother) and the Bonnie Prince Charlie (Mary and Anne’s nephew). After Anne’s death, the throne passed to a great-grandson of James I, George I of Hanover.
Obviously feeling slighted, Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to win back the throne for his father. In 1745, the Prince traveled to Scotland with a force mustered in France to rally the Highlanders to his cause. Those that answered his call were known as “Jacobites.”
The rebellion (now known as The “Forty-Five”) was ill-fated. Charles was able to defeat the English government in Scotland and move South to Northern England, but rather than press his advantage and march on London, he turned around and returned to Scotland, closely followed by the British Army, led by Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.
The tired and poorly fed Jacobite troops met the British army at Culloden Moor. The battle lasted less than an hour, and the Jacobites were routed. More significant, however, is the aftermath of the battle. In response to the rebellion, the British government effectively banned Highland culture and massacred the clans that had fought for the Prince.