Updated: May 25, 2022
Who, exactly, was Bonnie Prince Charlie?
In brief, the Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James VI of Scotland became also King James I of England, which combined the two thrones for the first time.
The Stuart dynasty reigned in Scotland and England from 1603 to 1714, but they attempted to lay claim to the crown for another century afterward. The name also appears spelled Stewart, as it is believed the line began when Robert the Bruce's daughter Marjorie married Robert's friend, who acted as the Steward of Scotland. Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland in 1306 and spent his life trying to free Scotland from England's grasp.
Here's a wonderful article that talks about Charles and the exiled Stuarts:
Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Maria Stuart was born in Rome in 1720, around 30 years after his grandfather, James VII and II, who was also the last Roman Catholic monarch of Ireland, Scotland, and England, had been deposed from the throne.
Charles set about planning an invasion of England to regain the Crown for the family. Charles had no military experience, but is described in contemporary accounts as being wildly charismatic and shockingly good-looking, and so was able to raise support from diverse groups across the United Kingdom, including managing to land the support of experienced generals who had fought against the English before. Catholicism had been outlawed in the UK, and so many Catholics joined the cause, hoping for religious freedom with a Stuart on the throne. Charles had supporters in England as well. He raised money in both Scotland and France to finance the endeavor and somehow, against tremendous odds, managed to build an army and march towards London. He and his supporters even took Castle Carlisle for a time, the English stronghold that is discussed in Circle of Three and its sequel.
Above is a picture of James II and his family. Even if you don't know much Scottish history, you've probably heard of Mary, Queen of Scots. She was a Stuart as well.
Bonnie Prince Charlie had one brother, so his older sister Maria is an entirely fictional character in the Spiral Pathways series. But everything else about the Bonnie Prince mentioned in Wyldwood is real. Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight towards the Isle of Skye after his crushing defeat at Culloden Moor had been enshrined in the famous Skye Boat Song, a slightly altered version of which has recently made much more famous by the series Outlander.
Here's a link to a great, quick guide to the royal dynasties of Scotland:
And if you like art history, here is a link to the first of a series of 4 videos on the hunt for Bonnie Prince Charlie's missing portrait. You'll learn a ton about him and his supporters along the way: