cover image Culloden: Scotland’s Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire

Culloden: Scotland’s Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire

Trevor Royle. Pegasus, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-68177-236-3

British military historian Royle (Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854–1856) explores how the 1746 Battle of Culloden destroyed Bonnie Prince Charlie’s dreams of a Stuart restoration but prepared the British army for subsequent successes in implementing Britain’s imperial ambitions. Inspired by lingering controversy over the heavily mythologized Scottish battleground, Royle places the battle in the context of the English/Protestant/Hanoverian rebuffing of French/Catholic/Jacobite rebellion. His main purpose is addressing Britain’s significant military achievements over the course of the post-Culloden generation. Rather than presenting a litany of battles, Royle intersperses clear logistical and strategic discussions with biographical sketches to flesh out the redcoats’ four-decade-long expansion around the globe. British opponents in North America, the Caribbean, and India receive due attention and respect, but the work persists as a largely appreciative look at the British Army. Royle acknowledges that British soldiers committed acts of brutality and terror in multiple locations, but also puts these horrific events into historical context. In addition, he provides lucid explanations of how poor decisions (initially by the British), bad luck, and staff disagreements affected the outcome of each major battle in this period for either side. Culloden’s importance to Scotland’s fortunes has never been doubted; Royle now demonstrates that its relevance to decades of British global supremacy cannot be questioned. (Nov.)