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Online course

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

Explore the story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites using iconic objects from National Museums Scotland.

Discover the Jacobite rebellion and the fight for the throne of Britain

The Jacobites, loyal followers of an exiled king, sparked political upheaval in Scotland. From the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the Battle of Culloden in 1746, their story is one of rebellions, plots, espionage, tartan-clad heroes and bloody defeat. It is a story clouded by failure and cloaked in romance, making it sometimes difficult to disentangle from the turbulent historical reality.

On this course you will unravel the Jacobite story. Using objects from National Museums Scotland you will discover the lives of the rulers and their followers who sought to change history.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsHello. My name is David Forsyth. I'm a Principal Curator in the Scottish History and Archaeology department here at National Museum of Scotland. It's my pleasure to welcome you to this MOOC, this massive online learning course, which over the next three weeks, we're going to look at Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, mirroring the exhibition of the same name at the museum. Hopefully, through this course, through the MOOC, you'll discover the rich story of the Jacobites, the complexity of the story, but looking at it through the material and visual culture. The story is much more, though, than just Charles Edward Stuart not born in Scotland but born in Italy on the 31st of December 1720.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsIt's about a story of around 200 years. It starts with the exile of James VII and II to France in 1688 and goes right up to the death of Charles's brother Henry Benedict in 1807. Through the next three weeks, you'll discover wonderful rich objects; objects with stories, objects with secrets, objects which speak of loss, rebellion, risings, and loyalty.

What topics will you cover?

  • Who were the Jacobites?
  • Introduction to material culture
  • Meet the Stuart Dynasty: James VI of Scotland and I of England down to Prince Charles Edward Stuart
  • Catholic Kings: the reign of James VII of Scotland and II of England
  • Losing the crown: James VII of Scotland and II of England deposed
  • The Exiled Stuarts in Europe
  • The Jacobite Challenges 1708, 1715, 1719
  • Introducing Prince Charles Edward Stuart
  • Raising the Standard: the final campaign 1745
  • The Road to Culloden The final Jacobite battle
  • The Aftermath post-1745
  • Romanticising Jacobitism in music, fiction and on screen

When would you like to start?

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore the key stages in the demise of the Stuart dynasty
  • Explore the significance of the objects presented in this course
  • Identify the key protagonists in 18th century British and European politics, in the context of the Jacobite campaigns
  • Assess the impact of the Jacobite campaigns
  • Reflect on myth and reality of the Jacobite campaigns

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in the history of the Stuart dynasty, their exile and the series of Jacobite campaigns to regain the throne of Britain. No previous knowledge of the period is required.

What software or tools do you need?

No specific tools or software required.

What do people say about this course?

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. This was linked to an exhibition in Edinburgh which unfortunately being a poor pensioner on the south coast of England I could not attend, but I feel that I got a very good insight into the whole subject. I was also introduced to a new subject for me, the Outlander books, written by Dianna Gabaldon who spoke on the course. This led me, first to read the books and then later to get my hands on the DVDs of the TV series, a real eye-opener. I had also, along with this, decided that I would take up the bagpipes and find out how these were first used and then banned following the disaster at Culloden, this has enriched my new musical hobby very much.

Neil Spurgeon

Who will you learn with?

Viccy Coltman

I am a Professor in History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, where I teach, research and write about aspects of eighteenth-century visual and material culture in Britain in an imperial context.

Adrienne Hynes

I am an Assistant Curator in the Late Modern section of the Department of Scottish History & Archaeology at National Museums Scotland.

David Forsyth

I am a Principal Curator in the Scottish History & Archaeology Department at National Museums Scotland with responsibility for the Jacobite collections.

Lyndsay McGill

I am a curator in the Department of Scottish History & Archaeology at the National Museums Scotland where I am responsible for Scottish material culture ranging from 1100 to 1750.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

National Museums Scotland cares for collections of national and international importance, preserving them, interpreting them and making them accessible to as many people as possible.

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