Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yoshitsune and Bonnie Prince Charlie

It’s easy to see the appeal of Yoshitsune. A master horseman and strategist, he won several major battles in his short career. His jealous and powerful brother had him pursued. Disappeared, violent death. Fill in the blank. Love interest and faithful follower Benkei. Noh drama, kabuki theatre, puppet plays, woodblock prints, paintings, manga (Japanese comics), novels, movies and tv series.

Similarly, the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart), has become one of Scotland’s most treasured legends. Heir to the exiled Stuart dynasty, the Prince came to Scotland in 1745 to reclaim the throne. After a bloody defeat at Culloden, King George II’s men hunted the Prince for five months. Hiding in homes and mountain caves, the Prince’s flight led him from the mainland to the far Hebridean isles and back, and finally to France.

For more on Yoshitsune, see Helen Craig McCullough’s translations of the classic Japanese military chronicle “Heike Monogatari” (Tale of the Heike) and “Yoshitsune: a 15th Century Japanese Chronicle,“ a collection of the Yoshitsune legends. On Bonnie Prince Charlie, seek out “Jacobite Memoirs” edited by Robert Forbes and Robert Chambers, a well-selected collection of primary source materials presented in chronological order, covering the Prince’s return, the Battle of Culloden, and the now legendary manhunt.

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