Charles Edward Stuart’s campaign to seize the British throne on behalf of his exiled father ended with one of the quickest defeats in history- his five-thousand strong Jacobite army were brutally overpowered at the battle of Culloden in under forty minutes. However, the affect-effects of Culloden are still felt centuries later. Paul O’Keeffe’s After Culloden guides his reader through the complex heritage of this pivotal moment in British history; from the initial fervour and success that spirited Charles Edward’s Jacobite army into battle, to the ensuing manhunt and wholesale punishment that the British wrought on suspected rebels. O’Keeffe charts the fates of the Jacobite rebels and their leader desperately fleeing British Army patrols across the Highlands. We see how this ensuing campaign of retribution inspired the mapping of the Highlands, leading to today’s Ordinance Survey, as well as prompting military, religious and legal subjugation of the area, aimed at eradicating Highland culture. O’Keeffe recounts the stories of some of the suspected Jacobites who were captured, but spared execution – many of whom were sent to serve hard labour in the Empire’s far-flung, fever-infested colonies, or to fight for the very army they had risen up against. In the long-term aftermath of Culloden, the Jacobite cause acquired an aura of romanticism at odds with its original intention to unseat the reigning monarch. Linking the Jacobite defeat at Culloden to today’s fight for Scottish Independence, O’Keeffe concludes by showing how today the battle still provokes tension.
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