Charles’ I son, James VII and II, was an autocratic and pro-Catholic ruler, which set him at odds with many in the post-Reformation kingdom. His repressive policies grew antagonism and he was deposed (1688), forced into exile, and replaced by a Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange, who rapidly won widespread support.
However, opinion persisted that James remained the legitimate monarch – the King Across The Water. People who believed this were known as Jacobite, derived from the Latin designation for James – Jacobus. This split between the two sides became more complex as it included clan associations as well as religious affiliations. For example, when the Argyll Campbells declared for William, many of the Highlands and Islands clans declared the opposite.
Jacobitism continued from 1689 through to the Battle of Culloden in 1746, during which period there were battles at Killiekrankie, Dunkeld, and Cromdale, amongst others. Following the Union of the English and Scottish parliaments in 1707, Jacobitism became for some a convenient vehicle for Scottish nationalism. This led to further unsuccessful attempts in 1715 and 1719 to rebel against the new occupant of the United Kingdom throne, George I from Hanover.
By 1744 a steadily worsening relationship between Britain and France led James’ VII’s grandson, Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), to seek French assistance for a new uprising that would topple George. This support was not forthcoming. However, the Prince felt he could convince the Jacobite clans to rise.
He raised an army that won successive battles as it progressed from the west coast of Lochaber to Derby, within 130 miles of an increasingly nervous London. However, his officers persuaded him to turn back and this subsequent retreat ended in a disastrous battle at Culloden, to the east of Inverness, where the Jacobite forces were routed by the Hanoverian troops.
The Prince eventually escaped to a permanent exile in France and Italy. The Highlands were subsequently subject to a brutal regime that sought to repress by force and by law the culture and many of the customs of Highland life, especially the clan system.