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The Real-Life Bonnie Prince Charlie Was Far More Vile And Disgusting Than 'Outlander' Portrays Him

Updated 11 Dec 2017 138.4k views11 items

Outlander is a ridiculously entertaining fantasy-adventure that masquerades as a period drama. But is the show Outlander historically accurate? Though this time-traveling romance that bounces between the 20th and 18th centuries does get the broad outlines right, its portrayal of Charles Edward Stuart is incomplete.

Known as “the Young Pretender,” “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” and “the Young Chevalier,” Charles Edward Stuart is a romanticized historical figure. Born in 1720, he was the eldest son and heir of James Francis Edward Stuart, the so-called “Old Pretender” whose own father had been kicked off the British throne in 1688 on account of his Catholicism. The exiled Stuarts lived in continental Europe and never gave up their claim to the throne. Their supporters were known as Jacobites, and they rose up several times in the hopes of winning the throne back for the exiled Stuarts. The final uprising was led by Charles and climaxed in 1746 at the disastrous Battle of Culloden, an event that plays a major role in Outlander. Culloden dealt a major blow to Jacobitism and Charles himself.

To be fair, the television show doesn’t portray him positively - he’s a weak, stubborn leader who waxes poetic instead of acting practically. But the show does not go far enough in depicting Charles as he really was: an alcoholic, a callous human being who was a user and - quite literally - an abuser. Though there are many other Outlander historical errors, Bonnie Prince Charlie in particular doesn’t get the nasty portrayal that he deserves. In short, as a real-life figure, he just wasn’t worth fighting for.

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