Saturday, June 07, 2008

Culloden - Did it really change World History?

The National Trust for Scotland is a conservative sort of organisation, not normally given to rash claims. And yet at the new Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre there is a prominent announcement that this battle changed World History! I have visited several times and enjoy the new centre very much , but find no evidence that the battle 'changed history'! Even if Prince Charles Edward had by some extraordinary stroke of good generalship won on 16 July 1746, would he really have gone on with his army 6,000, valiant, tough, but mostly untrained Highlanders, to overcome the British Army of 62,000? Would Louis XV,who did not support the Prince when he embarked from France, nor at the propitious moment following the victory at Prestonpans, really have committed the French troops required to turn the tide? I think not, and anyway we are a long way from the Battle of Culloden changing European or World History. Surely it merely prolonged the status quo!

It's an excellent exhibition nevertheless, giving the lie to any idea that this was a Scots v. English affair, and well worth a visit.

And if you disagree with me, please post a comment!


Anonymous said...

The world didn't believe the pasionate but mostly untrained American colonists could ever defeat the great British Army either... with similar odds! And, the French-- (and Dutch) ultimately did come thru and changed world history! Hope you are well! LK

Alastair Cunningham said...

Thanks, Lauren. Point taken. But my contention here is that Culloden didn't actually change world or European history, in fact it merely entrenched the status quo. It certainly changed Highland History, but that's another story!