On this day in 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his flag at Glenfinnan in the Highlands.
It was to begin the Jacobite Rebellion of that year, which was mildly successful, at least to begin with.
He declared his father, James, to be King of Scotland and England and called on the loyal Scottish clans to support him. The Catholic MacDonalds gave him much support, eager to try and rid their country of the Protestants who were rising rapidly to power.
Within a month, he had captured Edinburgh. Many more Scots flocked to his banner, wanting to rid themselves of the English yoke.
Towards the end of September, Charlie took his armies to meet an English army at Prestonpans. The Scots won the ensuing battle and the decision was made to march south, into England.
By early December they had managed to get as far as Derby, just a couple of days ride from London. Bonnie Prince Charlie wanted to carry on and take the capital and his father’s throne back, but his chiefs had had a long fight to get this far and wanted to return to Scotland.
If he had gone on to London, he would have found that, in all likelihood, he could easily have taken the city, as the forces defending it were weakened. His chiefs, however had been promised French troops and thought it safer to return to Scotland and wait for their arrival, then to make a renewed journey south in the Spring to take on the English King’s forces.
In the end, Charlie was convinced and the Scots started their long journey back to the north side of the border, and the nervous Londoners breathed a heavy sigh of relief. How would history have changed if they had not retreated??