Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sir John Blackwood McEwen - Scottish Rhapsody

Image from the Bonnie Wik
On this day in 1745 Charles Edward Stuart and 5,000 of his troops invaded England in a campaign to retake the British throne lost by his grandfather James.  The young would-be King was known as Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Scottish Highlanders who rallied to his cause.

The House of Stuart had been in exile since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had expelled King James in favor of the Dutch William of Orange and his wife Mary, James' daughter.  The joint monarchs William and Mary lent their name to the Virginia University, and led to the dynasty of the Georges.

Britain had been at war with France for two years, and leading Tories sent a letter to King Louis XV asking for help restoring the Stuart dynasty.  Leaders of thisTory movement included Edward Gibbon, of Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire fame.  And so to the invasion.

It was doomed from the start.  The Tories had asked for 10,000 French troops and money for 10,000 unemployed English and Scottish ones, but Louis only provided half.  Bonnie Charlie's army marched deep into England but was forced to fall back in the face of three armies sent by George II, not to mention confusion and indecision among his staff.  It ended on Culloden Moor where the Highlander charge failed to break the red coat lines and the rebellion collapsed into the mists of legend.

John McEwen wrote music to remember this, from the safe vantage point of a century and a half in the future.  A professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, he never forgot his Scottish roots.

1 comment:

libertyman said...

I was in airports all day Sunday with a low battery on the old iPhone, so I missed class that day.
Wasn't Bonnie Prince Charlie half Polish?

As always, an instructive post.