Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Here we have two of the absolute treasures of the National Museum of Scotland’s Jacobite collections. It is a back sword and a targe, which belonged to Prince Charles Edward Stuart. We believe that these were commissioned by James Drummond, the third Duke of Perth, and sent out to the exile court in Rome, as gifts both to Prince Charles Edward, and his brother, Henry Benedict. They were sent out as accoutrements of Highland dress, where, at that time, Highland dress would not just be the tartan, or the plaid of the Highland habit, but it also involved– include weapons such as this– the traditional basket-hilted broad sword or back sword, and, of course, the targe. But these were not designed for warfare.
Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds The sword was made by a London silversmith, called Kandler, and we’ve every reason to believe that these beautifully decorated silver mounts and the targe were also made by the same hand. The targe is a traditional Highland targe. It is made with wooden boards and pig skin. But there is a story within this targe. The Medusa head already appears in portraiture of Charles’s father, James VIII & III, this was to ward off enemies during battle. But if you look more closely at it, we see it is decorated with symbols of power, symbols of classical antiquity, but more importantly, a back sword, a pistol from the time, and also a Scotch bonnet.
Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds There, faintly, within that Scotch bonnet, on the badge, is the badge of the Order of the Thistle– which was presented to James Drummond, Duke of Perth, in 1739, by James VIII. We think, therefore, given the date and the closeness of the date, that these objects, and the Highland dress that accompanied them, were sent out to the court in Rome as a gift of loyalty. There was a great deal of material exchanged between the court– miniatures and portraits came from Rome back to Britain. This is a good example of a gift fit for a Jacobite prince. We know that Charles Edward was seen in public in Roman society.
Skip to 2 minutes and 19 seconds One account said that after the opera he went to a public ball, where he was seen in tartan, which he wore very well. Of course, he wore tartan when he came back to Scotland in 1745. And we know from the archives, and from documents relating to this, that in fact, the Duke of Perth encouraged him to be seen in the same dress, the same habit as the Highlanders. But more importantly, Charles Edward recognise the importance of these objects– for in 1745, he brought them back to Scotland, all the way from Rome, through France. They were left rather forlornly in the baggage train in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden.
Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds The targe was rescued by a Jacobite supporter, James MacPherson of Cluny, chief of the clan MacPherson. The sword, though, fell into the hands of the government, and was presented to the Duke of Cumberland. For many years, it was in the royal collection. But in 1820, it was presented to the chief and captain of Clan Ranald. So in a way, it come full circle. It was back in the hands of a Jacobite supporter. These, therefore, are extremely important objects– iconic. But more importantly, they link us directly to the exiled court in Rome, and that final attempt to recapture the kingdoms for his father in 1745, and ‘46.
Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds This portrait of Prince Charles Edward’s father, James VIII & III by Martin van Meytens, was painted in Rome in 1725. There are some interesting connections here though to the targe, in particular. We can see that James has a Medusa head ahead around his neck– worn as a talisman this mythical Gorgon, or this mythical beast, to help the wearer in times of battle, to keep off danger. Of course, also, the green ribbon, the sash, of the most ancient and noble Order of the Thistle. The order that was bestowed upon James Drummond, the Duke of Perth, in 1739. And of course, was actually given to both princes as infants, not long after their birth.
Skip to 4 minutes and 24 seconds So here we have another visual depiction of the iconography that is so apparent on that wonderful treasure, the targe of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.
Gifts for a prince
What are these objects?
Two of the most highly prized objects from the collections of National Museums Scotland – a broadsword and targe (shield), gifted to Prince Charles Edward Stuart from James Drummond, the 3rd Duke of Perth.
We also look in this short film at a portrait of James VIII and III by Martin van Meytens (1695-1770), a Dutch-Swedish portrait painter who painted members of the European Royal Courts. We are showing this portrait of James VIII and III from the Drambuie Collection, with kind permission of William Grant and Sons Ltd.
Who made them – where?
The silver sword bears the mark of Charles Frederick Kandler, a silversmith who worked closely with Jernegan.
The targe was almost certainly constructed in Scotland – the knowledge and skills to make such an object would not have existed elsewhere.
Why are these important?
These are objects of considerable aesthetic beauty but also political significance, demonstrating loyalty and allegiance to the exiled Stuart princes.
The symbolism on the objects that represents the Jacobite cause, is highly significant – and seditious.
Meyten’s portrait of James also includes symbolism, such as a ‘Medusa’ around his neck and the green ribbon of the Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Thistle. We learnt about the significance of this Order in Week 1, when Lyndsay McGill talked about the collar of the Order of the Thistle.
Watch this short film as David explores the covert messages in these objects.