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The kinsfolk and others who made up the clan lived together in agricultural townships that functioned like collectives or joint-tenancy farms. Tinged with feudal influences, the clan was also very much a martial system grounded on the obligation of its fighting men to provide military service for the chief to whom they owed personal allegiance. Those fighting men were partly dependent on plunder gained from raiding neighbouring clans to maintain their standard of living. Charles won support among the Scottish Highlanders to battle the English and many Scottish Lowlanders for the British crown.

After some initial success, Charles and his troops were eventually defeated at the Battle of Culloden April 16, , during which thousands of Highlanders were killed.

The Jacobite Rebellion | VisitScotland

In the subsequent weeks and months, some 1, Highlanders were hunted and killed. In the process, whole Highland clans were destroyed or were forced to flee. Even before the catastrophe at Culloden, the clan system had begun slowly deteriorating during the reign of James I, who distrusted the Highlanders so much that he ordered the chiefs away from their clans to attend prolonged court visits so that he could keep them from plotting against him.

That deterioration accelerated, however, in the years following the Battle of Culloden, as the British government imposed restrictive laws that compromised the power of the clan chiefs and the Gaelic culture that underpinned it, including the banning of clan tartans plaid textile designs and bagpipe music. The government also cleared the way for outsiders to acquire much of the land in the Highlands.


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The new landlords were set on replicating capitalist agriculture models employed in the Lowlands,. The subsequent disruption of traditional life and dispossession of land that occurred over roughly the next century became known as the Highland Clearances. The Clearances are generally regarded as having come in a series of waves, whose nature and circumstances varied according to when they happened, where they happened, and who was involved.


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George Granville Leveson-Gower, later duke of Sutherland , for instance, was the catalyst for notorious evictions that took place from about to Advised that his interior lands were best suited for sheep raising and were little fit for human habitation, he evicted thousands of families, burning their cottages and establishing large sheep farms. The evicted tenants were resettled in coastal crofts small tenant farms , frequently on only marginally cultivable land.

They were forced to subsist by collecting and smelting kelp a source of potash and iodine , something of a boom industry at the beginning of the 19th century, or by fishing, an occupation that was foreign to them. Other landowners in the Highlands followed that eviction model, though some focused on rearing cattle rather than sheep, whereas still others resettled the evicted farmers on crofts where highly labour-intensive cropping was the objective. The decline of the kelp industry, falling cattle prices, and, later, the potato famine in the Highlands that began in the mids were major blows to the subsistence economy of the crofters who had no legal claim to the land on which they lived.

When the potato blight hit, about , the crofters were financially devastated. Disease and starvation spread. Mass migrations occurred, mainly to the Scottish Lowlands where factory work could be found , Canada, the United States, or Australia. Often, Highlanders departed as indentured servants, hoping one day to own their own land. In , in response to growing sympathy for the plight of the crofters, the Napier Commission was established to investigate their condition.

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See Article History. Clans, collectives, and the Jacobite rebellion: the Highlands before the Clearances By the early 18th century the people in the Lowlands of Scotland —which lie southeast of a line drawn from Dumbarton , near the head of the Firth of Clyde on the western coast, to Stonehaven—were primarily urbanized.

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Highland Clearances

Advised that the interior of Sutherland was best suited for sheep raising and little fit for human habitation, he evicted thousands of families, burning their cottages and establishing large sheep farms. The evicted tenants were resettled in small coastal crofts small….

Scotland's tallest peak

Lowlands , cultural and historical region of Scotland, comprising the portion of the country southeast of a line drawn from Dumbarton to Stonehaven; northwest of the line are the Highlands. Traditionally, the Lowlands were distinguished by the use of the Scots language considered a dialect or close….

Scotland , most northerly of the four parts of the United Kingdom, occupying about one-third of the island of Great Britain. The name Scotland derives from the Latin Scotia , land of the Scots, a Celtic people from Ireland who settled on the west coast of Great Britain about the 5th century….

Jacobite rising of 1745

Dumbarton , royal burgh town , West Dunbartonshire council area, historic county of Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Patriotic Scots, disaffected Britons, acts of great bravery, tactical mistakes and many inspiring tales - the war-torn years of 17th and 18th century are a complex and well-known chapter of Scottish history. Highly romanticised in stories and songs, the Jacobite Risings, in reality, were a much bleaker affair, marked by bloody and divisive uprisings, rebellions and battles. They failed to restore the Stuarts to the throne, ultimately leading to the tragic Battle of Culloden that changed communities and the infrastructure of the Highlands forever.

Spanning the century from the deposition of James II in the Glorious Revolution of to the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie in , learn about this fascinating and tumultuous period of Scottish history.

Clearances, crofting, and consequences

Learn more about Bonnie Prince Charlie and retrace his fascinating journey, years on. Invaded by his Protestant son-in-law and subsequently overthrown, James was forced into exile in France. The first Jacobite rising broke out, but didn't prove popular at all. In , the two kingdoms of Scotland and England were united much to the dismay of those who supported the Jacobite cause. After failing to persuade the French government to commit to another invasion, Prince Charles, the 'Young Pretender', decided to fund his own rising.

He sailed from France to Scotland, arriving on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in July and then travelled across the Highlands, to assemble a Jacobite army. VisitScotland uses cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By using our website you consent to our use of cookies. Please read our privacy and cookies statement for more information.