A letter written by Bonnie Prince Charlie to his cousin, King Louis XV of France, asking for his help in overthrowing the British Monarchy, was sold for £25,000 on Wednesday.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the ‘Young Pretender’, was the grandson of the Stuart King James II of England, and a claimant to the throne. After James II, a Catholic ruler, was deposed in favour of his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Prince Charles and his father, Prince James were excluded from the line of succession.
However, Prince Charles, like his father before him, actively participated in the Jacobite Movement to restore James II and his heirs to the throne. He led the Jacobite Uprising of 1745, but the rebellion was quashed by the Redcoats. After being defeated in the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles fled to France.
The letter to Louis XV was written on November 15, 1746, six weeks after Bonnie Prince Charlie was exiled from Great Britain. In it, he gave his account of the Jacobite Uprising, and asked for help with another campaign to defeat The King and put himself on the throne. The Prince believed that the reason for his defeat was not a lack of Scottish subjects who supported his cause, but the absence of money and equipment to form a strong army.
The letter was an indication that Prince Charles had not yet given up on his cause. But The King of France had just defeated the British at Fontenoy, and did not agree to help. With his refusal, the cause of the Jacobites was lost forever.
King Louis XV gave the letter to his minister of war, Marquis d’Argenson, in whose family it remained for over 200 years. The letter was sold in 2002, and went under the hammer once again this month, at Bonhams auction house in Edinburgh. It fetched £25,000, more than double the initial estimate of £12,000.