Jacobite (Jacobus is the Latin name for James) was the name given to supporters of King James VII of Scotland and II of Britain who fled from the country in 1689 to escape an invading army led by William of Orange (also known as King Billy). There was fear throughout Britain that James would reinstate Catholicism as the national religion so the parliaments invited his daughter Mary and her Protestant husband William to take over the throne. The decisive battle of the Boyne in Ireland saw James completely defeated and he left the British Isles. His son was born in 1688, James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) was to have been James III of Britain. However the flight of his father meant that he grew up in exile. Charles Edward Stuart was his son.
In 1745 many of the highland clans rallied to cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (The Young Pretender) and his bid to reclaim his family's lost throne from King George II and the House of Hanover. Despite the fact that he was a Catholic, Highlanders were firm believers in familial secession, and 22 clans joined his cause, 10 remained loyal to the English crown. Charles left France for Scotland, assembled an army, and thus began the second Jacobite Rebellion. An interesting side-note on Charlie's alliance with the Highlanders is that prior to coming to Scotland, he had never seen a Highlander nor heard their language. He specifically commented on their interesting clothing. Joining the Scots were many nobles including Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth, who joined the Young Pretender’s ranks as lieutenant-generals. Charles' army was initially very successful and captured Perth, Edinburgh, Lancaster and Manchester on their way to London but upon reaching Derby Charles was advised to guard his rear flank and his army turned around and headed back north.
Once back in Scotland Charles was victorious against the government forces at Falkirk on January 17, 1746, and was involved in siege at Stirling Castle. Meanwhile, Prince of William, the Duke of Cumberland was building and training an army in Aberdeen. In early February Cumberland advanced his larger Hanoverian force.
Charles was advised by his commanders to avoid direct conflict with Cumberland’s army, and to pursue the guerrilla tactics which were so effective in Highland warfare. Besides Cumberland, Charles was facing other challenges, Jacobite funds were running short and desertion in the ranks was becoming more frequent. Whole sections of the army were in the North pursuing Loudon’s government forces, and a dispute between the Clanranald and Glengarry sections of the Clan MacDonald had caused many to return home. The remaining MacDonalds were upset that they had been allotted the left flank of the army rather than the right. This was the context in which the two armies met at Culloden Moor on April 16, 1746.