The Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745: a history

01 January 2021
Why did the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 take place, who was involved and what happened next?

Jacobite rebellions or risings?

Jacobitism has its roots in the revolution of 1688-91, which overthrew the Catholic king, James VII of Scotland and II of England, in favour of his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William of Orange. Read our get-started guide to the Jacobites. 

Those who remained loyal to James – ‘Jacobus’ in Latin – came to be known as ‘Jacobites’, and they would spend much of the next century struggling to reverse the defeat of the ‘Glorious revolution’.

So, were these attempts to regain the throne rebellions or risings? That depends on your perspective. Many historians today label the events of 1715 and 1745 as risings, since most of those who took part sincerely believed that they were working to restore the rightful monarch to his throne.

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The role of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) is one of the best known figures in the Jacobite risings and you can explore myths relating to his life in our special feature.

Charles Edward Stuart (whose full name was Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart) was born on 31 December 1720 at Palazzo Muti in Rome. He was the son of James Francis Edward Stuart, the man known as ‘The Old Pretender’ who was himself the son of James VII of Scots, the monarch overthrown in favour of Mary and William of Orange.

Bonnie Prince Charlie devoted a large part of his adult life to regaining the throne for the Stuarts but was ultimately unsuccessful. Find out more about his legacy in Top 10 Bonnie Prince Charlie objects

What happened at the Battle of Culloden?

One of the best-known episodes on the Jacobite risings was the Battle of Culloden, explored in our expert blog by Professor Murray Pittock.  

Explore Jacobite history: places to visit

And finally, if you’ve been inspired by the people and places of this period of history, take a look at our Jacobite places to visit guide for a round-up of five top Jacobite attractions in Scotland, including Holyrood Palace, Castle Doune, and Castle Fraser.

Explore more Jacobite history in History Scotland's themed Jacobite special - download today!