The Jacobite Rising of 1745 is well-known and much written about. Far less well-known are the three risings that preceded it, of 1708, 1715 and 1719. They are the subject of this book. Although failures they are not unimportant, and the one in1715, in particular, had a better chance of succeeding than the final rising. The newly arrived Hanoverian dynasty was unpopular and unsteady, the English troops were less than reliable, in Scotland there was still intense bitterness over the Union and the abortive Darien Scheme. Given a more decisive leader, the rebellion could have triumphed. Instead, the sorry series of events which culminated with the battles of Preston and Sheriffmuir guaranteed that the luckless James Francis Edward, the Old Pretender, would never be crowned at Scone, let alone in Westminster Abbey.
These rebellions may have inglorious in their results, but they produced a numver of memorable incidents, some comic, some harrowing, some even glorious: the ludicrous attempt on Edinburgh Castle; James's escape from assassination when trying to reach the French coast; Mackintosh of Borlum's great march; the state trials and executions; the desperate last throw in the Pass of Glenshiel. And there were strange actors in the drama: Argyle leading the government troops and loathing the task of killing his fellow-Scots; the ineffectual Mar and the scornful Sinclair; Bolingbroke, for ever changing sides; the courageous Marischal and the doomed Derwentwater; and like a grey shadow without substance, James Stuart, 'who came too late and departed too soon'.
The sage of Jacobite intrigue, rebellion and failure which is unfolded here offers a vivid picture of the clash between two countries and two loyalties.
'A lively new study of three Jacobite risings preceding the '45 . . . As befits a military historian he is at his best in describing the actual campaigns, bringing an agreeably lucid style to bear on the complicated geographical patchwork of landings, marches and fights' Antonia Fraser
'He writes with vigour, grace and wit, balancing his material beautifully. He excels at brief, vivid character sketches . . . recreated atmosphere so convincingly that this books grips like the best sort of thriller' Irish Times
' . . . far the best written book I've read for ages' Nancy Mitford