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This content is taken from the The University of Edinburgh & National Museums Scotland's online course, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds What you see before you is a representation of a Highland gentleman, one of the front-ranked soldiers of Charles Edward Stuart’s army in 1745. Each soldier would have been wearing his own clothes. Very few of the Jacobites were in uniformed regiments, so they would have been the same clothes that the soldiers used when they were out about their daily business that they wore into battle. I’m wearing the phillimore, the great plaid that’s pleated and belted around my waist, that in bad weather can be pulled up snug around my head and shoulders, or, in better weather and for battle, tucked in around my waist. But what the Highlander is most famous for is his formidable panoply of weapons.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds The highland soldier wants to get close and personal with his opponent. And for that, there’s no better weapon than the Highland basket-hilted broadsword. Broadswords like this could be as elaborate and expensive as the wearer wanted them to be. The prince himself famously has a beautiful silver-hilted broadsword that he carried with him at Culloden. But whether they were the crude mass-produced ones or they were the elaborate officer’s ones, they all had the same purpose– for punching forwards and for chopping downwards, with deadly strikes across the head and shoulders of their enemy. And these swords were used to their best when used in conjunction with the Highland targe, the wooden shield.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds Strapped across the left forearm, the targe was used to brush aside the enemy’s bayonets, to bring room for the slicing chop of the broadsword. And however beautiful and elaborate some of these weapons might have been, they were deadly and efficient when they came into battle. And they struck fear into the heart of the redcoat enemy.

Meet the military: Jacobite

In this short film recorded at the National Museum of Scotland, costumed interpreter and historian, Arran Johnston is dressed as a Jacobite to demonstrate and discuss examples of their weapons and battle tactics.

As you watch Arran, think about the objects we have encountered so far in this course – the broadsword (or backsword), starting with the one inscribed ‘For God, my country and James VIII’, to the elaborate 21st birthday gift to Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Think also about the Prince’s Highland targe and the wall of targes on display in Viccy’s welcome film at the start of this week.

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This video is from the free online course:

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

The University of Edinburgh