IT was 275 years ago today that Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived at Roscoff in Brittany aboard the French ship L’Heureux.

The crews of both L’Heureux and its accompanying ship Le Prince de Conti cheered the Prince to the echo as he was taken ashore in a rowing boat, with a salute of 21 guns roaring out from each ship.

In the New Style dating it was October 10, 1746, and Charles had somehow survived more than six months in Scotland after the disastrous Battle of Culloden. He was never betrayed despite the £30,000 reward money offered by the Hanoverian Government, and thanks to the help of people like Flora MacDonald, he evaded the huge army of redcoats seeking him.

He did not know it at that point, but his arrival in France ended all hope of a further Jacobite campaign, for as we shall see, the Stuart cause no longer allied with the machinations of France.

READ MORE: King Constantine II: The formation of modern Scotland in the Alba period

I recently received a most fascinating note from Michael Nevin, chair of The 1745 Association and author of Reminiscences Of A Jacobite who reminded me that later this month will also see the 275th anniversary of the only meeting between two of the most enigmatic and charismatic personalities of the 18th-century, Madame de Pompadour, mistress of the French King Louis XV and Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Niven told me: “On Sunday October 23, 1746, the Marquise de Pompadour invited the Prince and his entourage to a soirée at her residence in Fontainebleau. At the time of their meeting, Madame de Pompadour was aged just 24, while Prince Charles was a year older at 25.

“Their encounter was more than a pleasant social engagement between a young man and a young woman. Two weeks earlier, the Prince had landed in Brittany following his escape from Scotland after Culloden, and was keen to win the support of the Marquise, the French King’s closest and most trusted adviser, to continue his campaign to win the British throne.

“Their meeting was to have profound significance for them personally, for their nations, and indeed for the history of Europe, and proved to be the final act of the Auld Alliance.”

Niven tells the story in a 24-minute video marking the anniversary of their meeting, When Madame De Pompadour Met Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Tragedy In Three Acts, which is on YouTube ( It’s well worth it as it tells a fascinating story.

Also quite fascinating is a document that I saw seven years ago when it came up for sale in Edinburgh. It was being sold at Lyon & Turnbull’s auction house in Edinburgh. If memory serves me it fetched £25,000, more than double the estimate of £12,000.

Lyon & Turnbull’s experts explained just how important was that letter, written by Charles in French: “He addresses the letter to His Majesty [‘Monsieur Mon Frere et Cousin’], stating that he has written a Memorandum of his affairs [‘un petit memoire de mes affaires’] for His Majesty, which he strongly hopes to put into the hands of the King himself, and offering to come incognito to a secret rendezvous of the King’s choosing.

“The ‘Memoire’, also written entirely by the Prince, gives the Prince’s assessment of the political situation in Britain and claims that English government oppression is fostering ever more support for his cause.

“He tries to account for the failure of the Rising and defeat at Culloden, saying that he has never lacked for Scottish subjects ready to fight for him, but that he lacked money, equipment and a regular army. If he had had just one of these he states, he would have been again by now Master of Scotland and probably of England too.

Translated from the French it states: “Armed men were not lacking in Scotland. Instead, I missed at once money, provisions, and a handful of regular troops – with just one of these three resources I would be master of Scotland today, and probably of all England too.’”

According to Lyon & Turnbull, Charles goes on to say that “if he had only had provisions he would have been able to pursue General Hawley at the Battle of Falkirk and destroy his entire army which comprised the flower of the English army [‘qui etoit la fleur des troupes Angloises’]. And if he had received sooner half the money sent to him by Louis he would have fought the Duke of Cumberland with equal numbers. With just 1200 more regular troops he would have won the Battle of Culloden.

“He concludes by arguing that the setback can still be reversed if His Majesty can provide him with a battalion of 18 or 20,000 men, and assures His Majesty that their interests remain inseparable.”

READ MORE: Kingdom of Alba and its unforgettable role in making Scotland

The letter was an indication that Charles had not given up. The problem for the Bonnie Prince was that the French under Louis XV had defeated the British-led forces at Fontenoy in May the previous year during the War of the Austrian Succession and now Louis wanted peace.

The commander of the forces known as the Pragmatic Army at Fontenoy was none other than the Duke of Cumberland, the Butcher of Culloden, who took the British contingent home to deal with the Jacobites.

By October, 1746, Louis XV was desperate for peace as the French economy was collapsing. The French had only promised support for Charles as a diversion to their war on the Continent, and now the Jacobites had become surplus to requirements.

Louis gave Charles a pension and he enjoyed himself among the ladies of Paris. Louis was firm, however and 275 years ago next month the cause of the Jacobites was lost forever.