Bonnie Prince Charlie and the snub from Madame de Pompadour

Bonnie Prince Charlie appealed directly to France's most influential woman for help after the Battle of Culloden, but was snubbed, a leading Jacobite historian has claimed.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Michael Nevin, Chair of The 1745 Association, which studies the Jacobite period, said Prince Charles Edward Stuart met with Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV, six months after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden.

He said the meeting between "two of the most enigmatic and charismatic personalities of the 18th century" took place on 23 October 1746 and was never officially recorded, but had lasting consequences for Scotland and France.Mr Nevin said his findings were the result of nearly 20 years of painstaking research "piecing a very complex jigsaw together".He said: "This meeting was top secret. It was not recorded in any official minutes and it does not appear in the history books. It was however noted in the journals of the Duke of Luynes, a leading aristocrat at the court of Louis XV."These journals run to around a dozen volumes, and 1746 alone is the same length as War and Peace. They have never been translated from the French and so this encounter has been overlooked, but it is clear from the journal that this was a very important political meeting. In my view it was a crucial meeting in the whole relationship between the French Court and the Jacobite Cause - the last act of the Auld Alliance."Until then the French Court had supported the Jacobites and then little by little they detached themselves. The established history has always been that Prince Charlie abandoned Scotland after Culloden, but this is not what happened."

Bonnie Prince Charlie received French support for his uprising to restore the Stuart monarchy in 1745. However, his Jacobite army was crushed by Government troops in the last pitched battle fought on British soil, at Culloden on 16 April 1746. Prince Charles spent five months in hiding in Scotland before escaping back to France, where he was keen to impress Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour -- Madame de Pompadour -- as she was the most influential figure in the French Court.The Marquise, who was 24 years old at the time, invited the 25-year-old Prince and his entourage including his brother Henry, Duke of York, to a soirée at her residence in Fontainebleau.The Duke of Luynes noted in his journal that Charles "is quite tall and cuts a noble figure, some say that he resembles Charles XII, King of Sweden".The Duke noted that Charles appeared "quite serious", while Henry was "of a quite different character; he talks more, he laughs easily, he is lively and loves music passionately."Mr Nevin said: "Perhaps when he met Madame de Pompadour, Prince Charles Edward Stuart did not put over his case as well as he might. Most likely in my view, the Marquise found the Prince personally perfectly pleasant and charming, but had come to the conclusion that politically he was a busted flush and further French support for his cause would be both costly and futile, and French money would be better spent on her domestic grand projects than on reckless foreign ventures"


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