Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sound the pibroch

On the 16th of April 1746, at Drummossie Moor, Culloden, the Jacobite army was defeated by the Hanoverians. The Jacobites were pre-dominately catholic Highland Scots, who fought for the Stuart cause, the clan system and a free Scotland. This was to be the last battle fought on the isle of Britain. They were met by english cannon and William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, captain-general, younger son of George II and a ruthless butcher.

Surviving scots, who had been loyal to the auld cause, were hunted down without mercy. This went beyond the men at arms, to their families: brutal killing, pauperisation, loss of land and animals, deportation and enslavement. As Cromwell had done to the Irish, the previous century, the Butcher Cumberland did do to the Highlanders. The possession of items, that were symbols of the highlands and the scots, became capital offenses: the tartan, the pipes, claymores. A cultural genocide of sorts was implemented, but not fully achieved. Scotland as an independent nation died that day. The Stuart cause was lost, and the Stuarts had not done their supporters well again. Catholicism was reduced. The use, and especially the written use, of the auld tongue was suppressed.The clan system was destroyed. Such was the harrying of the glens and the highland clearances. Of course those who sided with the english prospered. What had been Scotland, became the north of Britain.

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