The Battle of Culloden, which vanquished for good Jacobite claims to the British throne, is a much mythologised and misunderstood event. Murray Pittock cuts through the fog of war to find out what really happened in April 1746.
For two centuries, British historiography has defined Jacobitism as ‘primitive’: first, it was demeaned because of the very real threat it posed to the Hanoverian state; second, because of the role played by the Jacobite defeat in the creation myth of the British Empire. It is no coincidence that this approach began to founder in the 1970s, as the former imperial state, which grew to maturity in part as a consequence of the defeat of the Jacobites, took on a more fragmentary, modern and multicultural existence. Yet the popular image of the Jacobites, not least at the Battle of Culloden, fought on April 16th, 1746, remains.