A Bad Cause

It’s the anniversary today of the Battle of Culloden in 1746. No doubt, there will be commemorations to the loss of the Scottish cause with depictions of guns fighting broadswords, and so on.

All nonsense!

It was not the Scottish cause – as many, if not more Scots supported the government side, including much of the Highlands. My own clan stayed away in droves.

It was the Stuart cause and it not deserve the death of one Scot, let alone any other Briton or Irishman. The Stuarts cared for Scotland only as a means to regain the British crown as agents of French hegemony in Europe. And, after Culloden they tried other routes, including Bonnie Prince Charlie’s conversion to Anglicanism, before reconciling themselves to the Hanoverians. Meanwhile, the Highlands paid a terrible price for the Stuarts’ ambitions.

Even while it was happening, it was anachronistic. The Enlightment was under way and the fires of the Industrial Revolution were being stoked – the first major battle, Prestonpans, took place next to a coal mine and a railway. Scotland and Britain as a whole had other things to do rather than fight mediaeval dynastic wars.

How we respond to this today may indicate whether we, Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole, look forward, or backwards.

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