The French evacuated Germany. The English and Austrian armies appeared on the Rhine; and a league between England, Prussia, and the Queen of Hungary, seemed all that was needed to secure the results already gained.
But the prospect of peace was overthrown by the ambition of the House of Austria. In the spring of 1744 an Austrian army marched upon Naples, with the purpose of transferring it after its conquest to the Bavarian Emperor, whose hereditary dominions in Bavaria were to pass in return to Maria Theresa. If however Frederick had withdrawn from the war on the cession of Silesia, he was resolute to take up arms again rather than suffer so great an aggrandisement of the House of Austria in Germany. His sudden alliance with France failed at first to change the course of the war; for though he was successful in seizing Prague and drawing the Austrian army from the Rhine, Frederick was driven from Bohemia, while the death of the Emperor forced Bavaria to lay down its arms and to ally itself with Maria Theresa. So high were the Queen's hopes at this moment that she formed a secret alliance with Russia for the division of the Prussian monarchy. But in 1745 the tide turned, and the fatal results of Carteret's weakness in assenting to the change from a war of defence into one of attack became manifest.
The French King, Lewis the Fifteenth, led an army into the Netherlands; and the refusal of Holland to act against him left their defence wholly in the hands of England. The general anger at this widening of the war proved fatal to Carteret, or, as he now became, Earl Granville. His imperious temper had rendered him odious to his colleagues, and he was driven from office by the Duke of Newcastle and his brother Henry Pelham. Of the reconstituted ministry which followed Henry Pelham became the head. His temper, as well as a consciousness of his own mediocrity, disposed him to a policy of conciliation which reunited the Whigs. Chesterfield and the Whigs in opposition, with Pitt and " the Boys," all found room in the new administration; and even a few Tories found admittance. The bulk of the Whigs were true to Walpole's policy; and it was to pave the way to an accommodation with Frederick and a close of the war that the Pelhams forced Carteret to resign. But their attention had first to be given to the war in Flanders, where Marshal Saxe had established the superiority of the French army by his defeat of the Duke of Cumberland. Advancing to the relief of Tournay with a force of English, Hanoverians, and Dutch - for Holland had at last been dragged into the war - the Duke on the 31st of May 1745 found the French covered by a line of fortified villages and redoubts with but a single narrow gap near the hamlet of Fontenoy. Into this gap, however, the English troops, formed in a dense column, doggedly thrust themselves in spite of a terrible fire; but at the moment when the day seemed won the French guns, rapidly concentrated in their front, tore the column in pieces and drove it back in a slow and orderly retreat The blow was quickly followed up in June by a victory of Frederick at Hohenfriedburg which drove the Austrians from Silesia, and by a landing of a Stuart on the coast of Scotland at the close of July.
The war with France had at once revived the hopes of the Jacobites; and as early as 1744 Charles Edward, the grandson of James the Second, was placed by the French Government at the head of a formidable armament. But his plan of a descent on Scotland was defeated by a storm which wrecked his fleet, and by the march of the French troops which had sailed in it to the war in Flanders. In 1745, however, the young adventurer again embarked with but seven friends in a small vessel and landed on a little island of the Hebrides. For three weeks he stood almost alone; but on the 29th of August the clans rallied to his standard in Glenfinnan, and Charles found himself at the head of fifteen hundred men. His force swelled to an army as he marched through Blair Athol on Perth, entered Edinburgh in triumph, and proclaimed "James the Eighth " at the Town Cross: and two thousand English troops who marched against him under Sir John Cope were broken and cut to pieces on the 21st of September by a single charge of the clansmen at Preston Pans. Victory at once doubled the forces of the conqueror.
The Prince was now at the head of six thousand men; but all were still Highlanders, for the people of the Lowlands held aloof from his standard, and it was with the utmost difficulty that he could induce them to follow him to the south. His tact and energy however at last conquered every obstacle, and after skilfully evading an army gathered at Newcastle he marched through Lancashire, and pushed on the 4th of December as far as Derby. But here all hope of success came to an end. Hardly a man had risen in his support as he passed through the districts where Jacobitism boasted of its strength. The people nocked to see his march as if to see a show. Catholics and Tories abounded in Lancashire, but only a single squire took up arms. Manchester was looked on as the most Jacobite of English towns, but all the aid it gave was an illumination and two thousand pounds. From Carlisle to Derby he had been joined by hardly two hundred men. The policy of Walpole had in fact secured England for the House of Hanover. The long peace, the prosperity of the country, and the clemency of the Government, had done their work.
The recent admission of Tories into the administration had severed the Tory party finally from the mere Jacobites. Jacobitism as a fighting force was dead, and even Charles Edward saw that it was hopeless to conquer England with five thousand Highlanders. He soon learned too that forces of double his own strength were closing on either side of him, while a third army under the King and Lord Stair covered London. Scotland itself, now that the Highlanders were away, quietly renewed in all the districts of the Lowlands its allegiance to the House of Hanover. Even in the Highlands the Macleods rose in arms for King George, while the Gordons refused to stir, though roused by a small French force which landed at Montrose. To advance further south was impossible, and Charles fell rapidly back on Glasgow; but the reinforcements which he found there raised his army to nine thousand men, and on the 23rd January, 1746, he boldly attacked an English army under General Hawley which had followed his retreat and had encamped near Falkirk. Again the wild charge of his Highlanders won victory for the Prince, but victory was as fatal as defeat.