Portrait from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, c. 1714
| King of Great Britain and Ireland |
|Reign||1 August 1714 – 11 June 1727|
|Coronation||20 October 1714|
|Prime Minister||Robert Walpole|
|Elector of Hanover|
|Reign||23 January 1698 – 11 June 1727|
|Born||28 May 1660|
7 June 1660 (N.S.)
Hanover, Brunswick-Lüneburg, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||11 June 1727 (aged 67)|
22 June 1727 (N.S.)
Schloss Osnabrück, Osnabrück
|Burial||4 August 1727|
Sophia Dorothea of Celle
(m. 1682;div. 1694)
|Father||Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover|
|Mother||Sophia of the Palatinate|
George I (George Louis; German: Georg Ludwig; 28 May 1660 – 11 June 1727) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698 until his death in 1727.
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in northwestern Germany. It was colloquially known as the Electorate of Hanover, after its capital city of Hanover. For most of its existence, the electorate was ruled in personal union with Great Britain.
The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.
George was born in Hanover and inherited the titles and lands of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg from his father and uncles. A succession of European wars expanded his German domains during his lifetime; he was ratified as prince-elector of Hanover in 1708. At the age of 54, after the death of his second cousin Anne, Queen of Great Britain (r. 1702–1714), George ascended the British throne as the first monarch of the House of Hanover. Although over fifty Roman Catholics were closer to Anne by primogeniture, the Act of Settlement 1701 disqualified Catholics from inheriting the British throne; George was Anne's closest living Protestant relative. In reaction, Jacobites attempted, but failed, to depose George and replace him with James Francis Edward Stuart, Anne's Catholic half-brother.
Hanover or Hannover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city of Germany, as well as the third-largest city of Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city of the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen, and Bremen.
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire, or Electors for short, were the members of the electoral college that elected the Holy Roman Emperor.
Anne was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.
During George's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished and Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister. Towards the end of his reign, actual political power was held by Robert Walpole, now recognised as Britain's first de facto prime minister. George died of a stroke on a trip to his native Hanover, where he was buried. He was the last British monarch to be buried outside the United Kingdom.
Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. The office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016.
George was born on 28 May 1660 in the city of Hanover in the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire.He was the eldest son of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and his wife, Sophia of the Palatinate. Sophia was the granddaughter of King James I of England through her mother, Elizabeth of Bohemia.
The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, or more properly the Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg, was a historical duchy that existed from the late Middle Ages to the Early Modern era within the Holy Roman Empire. The duchy was located in what is now northwestern Germany. Its name came from the two largest cities in the territory: Brunswick and Lüneburg.
Ernest Augustus was a Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and ruled over the Principality of Calenberg, a subdivision of the duchy. He was appointed Prince-elector, but died before the appointment became effective. He was also the Prince-Bishop of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück.
Sophia of Hanover was the Electress of Hanover from 1692 to 1698. As a Protestant granddaughter of James I, she became heir presumptive to the crowns of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland under the Act of Settlement 1701. After the Acts of Union 1707, she became heir presumptive to the unified throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She died less than two months before she would have become queen succeeding her first cousin once removed, Queen Anne, and her claim to the throne passed on to her eldest son, George Louis, Elector of Hanover, who ascended as George I on 1 August 1714.
For the first year of his life, George was the only heir to the German territories of his father and three childless uncles. George's brother, Frederick Augustus, was born in 1661, and the two boys (known as Görgen and Gustchen by the family) were brought up together. Their mother was absent for almost a year (1664–65) during a long convalescent holiday in Italy, but corresponded regularly with her sons' governess and took a great interest in their upbringing, even more so upon her return.Sophia bore Ernest Augustus another four sons and a daughter. In her letters, Sophia describes George as a responsible, conscientious child who set an example to his younger brothers and sisters.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.
By 1675 George's eldest uncle had died without issue, but his remaining two uncles had married, putting George's inheritance in jeopardy as his uncles' estates might pass to their own sons, should they have had any, instead of to George. George's father took him hunting and riding, and introduced him to military matters; mindful of his uncertain future, Ernest Augustus took the fifteen-year-old George on campaign in the Franco-Dutch War with the deliberate purpose of testing and training his son in battle.
The Franco-Dutch War, often just the Dutch War, was a conflict that lasted from 1672 to 1678 between the Dutch Republic and France, each supported by allies. France had the support of England and Sweden, while the Dutch were supported by Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark.
In 1679 another uncle died unexpectedly without sons, and Ernest Augustus became reigning Duke of Calenberg-Göttingen, with his capital at Hanover. George's surviving uncle, George William of Celle, had married his mistress in order to legitimise his only daughter, Sophia Dorothea, but looked unlikely to have any further children. Under Salic law, where inheritance of territory was restricted to the male line, the succession of George and his brothers to the territories of their father and uncle now seemed secure. In 1682, the family agreed to adopt the principle of primogeniture, meaning George would inherit all the territory and not have to share it with his brothers.
The same year, George married his first cousin, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, thereby securing additional incomes that would have been outside Salic laws. The marriage of state was arranged primarily as it ensured a healthy annual income and assisted the eventual unification of Hanover and Celle. His mother was at first against the marriage because she looked down on Sophia Dorothea's mother, Eleonore (who came from lower nobility), and because she was concerned by Sophia Dorothea's legitimated status. She was eventually won over by the advantages inherent in the marriage.
In 1683, George and his brother, Frederick Augustus, served in the Great Turkish War at the Battle of Vienna, and Sophia Dorothea bore George a son, George Augustus. The following year, Frederick Augustus was informed of the adoption of primogeniture, meaning he would no longer receive part of his father's territory as he had expected. It led to a breach between father and son, and between the brothers, that lasted until Frederick Augustus's death in battle in 1690. With the imminent formation of a single Hanoverian state, and the Hanoverians' continuing contributions to the Empire's wars, Ernest Augustus was made an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire in 1692. George's prospects were now better than ever as the sole heir to his father's electorate and his uncle's duchy.
Sophia Dorothea had a second child, a daughter named after her, in 1687, but there were no other pregnancies. The couple became estranged—George preferred the company of his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, and Sophia Dorothea, meanwhile, had her own romance with the Swedish Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck. Threatened with the scandal of an elopement, the Hanoverian court, including George's brothers and mother, urged the lovers to desist, but to no avail. According to diplomatic sources from Hanover's enemies, in July 1694 the Swedish count was killed, possibly with the connivance of George, and his body thrown into the river Leine weighted with stones. The murder was claimed to have been committed by four of Ernest Augustus's courtiers, one of whom (Don Nicolò Montalbano) was paid the enormous sum of 150,000 thalers, which was about one hundred times the annual salary of the highest paid minister.Later rumours supposed that Königsmarck was hacked to pieces and buried beneath the Hanover palace floorboards. However, sources in Hanover itself, including Sophia, denied any knowledge of Königsmarck's whereabouts.
George's marriage to Sophia Dorothea was dissolved, not on the grounds that either of them had committed adultery, but on the grounds that Sophia Dorothea had abandoned her husband. With the agreement of her father, George had Sophia Dorothea imprisoned in Ahlden House in her native Celle, where she stayed until she died more than thirty years later. She was denied access to her children and father, forbidden to remarry and only allowed to walk unaccompanied within the mansion courtyard. She was, however, endowed with an income, establishment, and servants, and was allowed to ride in a carriage outside her castle, albeit under supervision.Melusine von der Schulenburg acted as George's hostess openly from 1698 until his death, and they had three daughters together, born in 1692, 1693 and 1701, respectively.
Ernest Augustus died on 23 January 1698, leaving all of his territories to George with the exception of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück, an office he had held since 1661.George thus became Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (also known as Hanover, after its capital) as well as Archbannerbearer and a Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His court in Hanover was graced by many cultural icons such as the mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and the composers George Frideric Händel and Agostino Steffani.
Shortly after George's accession to his paternal duchy, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, who was second-in-line to the English and Scottish thrones, died. By the terms of the English Act of Settlement 1701, George's mother, Sophia, was designated as the heir to the English throne if the then reigning monarch, William III, and his sister-in-law, Anne, died without surviving issue. The succession was so designed because Sophia was the closest Protestant relative of the British royal family. Fifty-six Catholics with superior hereditary claims were bypassed.The likelihood of any of them converting to Protestantism for the sake of the succession was remote; some had already refused.
In August 1701, George was invested with the Order of the Garter and, within six weeks, the nearest Catholic claimant to the thrones, the former king James II, died. William III died the following March and was succeeded by Anne. Sophia became heiress presumptive to the new Queen of England. Sophia was in her seventy-first year, older than Anne by thirty-five years, but she was very fit and healthy and invested time and energy in securing the succession either for herself or for her son.However, it was George who understood the complexities of English politics and constitutional law, which required further acts in 1705 to naturalise Sophia and her heirs as English subjects, and to detail arrangements for the transfer of power through a Regency Council. In the same year, George's surviving uncle died and he inherited further German dominions: the Principality of Lüneburg-Grubenhagen, centred at Celle.
Shortly after George's accession in Hanover, the War of the Spanish Succession broke out. At issue was the right of Philip, the grandson of King Louis XIV of France, to succeed to the Spanish throne under the terms of King Charles II of Spain's will. The Holy Roman Empire, the United Dutch Provinces, England, Hanover and many other German states opposed Philip's right to succeed because they feared that the French House of Bourbon would become too powerful if it also controlled Spain. As part of the war effort, George invaded his neighbouring state, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, which was pro-French, writing out some of the battle orders himself. The invasion succeeded with few lives lost. As a reward, the prior Hanoverian annexation of the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg by George's uncle was recognised by the British and Dutch.
In 1706, the Elector of Bavaria was deprived of his offices and titles for siding with Louis against the Empire. The following year, George was invested as an Imperial Field Marshal with command of the imperial army stationed along the Rhine. His tenure was not altogether successful, partly because he was deceived by his ally, the Duke of Marlborough, into a diversionary attack, and partly because Emperor Joseph I appropriated the funds necessary for George's campaign for his own use. Despite this, the German princes thought that he had acquitted himself well. In 1708 they formally confirmed George's position as a Prince-Elector in recognition of, or because of, his service. George did not hold Marlborough's actions against him; he understood they were part of a plan to lure French forces away from the main attack.
In 1709, George resigned as field marshal, never to go on active service again. In 1710, he was granted the dignity of Arch-Treasurer of the Empire,an office formerly held by the Elector Palatine—the absence of the Elector of Bavaria allowed a reshuffling of offices. The death of the Emperor in 1711 threatened to destroy the balance of power in the opposite direction, so the war ended in 1713 with the ratification of the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip was allowed to succeed to the Spanish throne but was removed from the French line of succession, and the Elector of Bavaria was restored.
Though both England and Scotland recognised Anne as their queen, only the English Parliament had settled on Sophia, Electress of Hanover, as the heir presumptive. The Parliament of Scotland (the Estates) had not formally settled the succession question for the Scottish throne. In 1703, the Estates passed a bill declaring that their selection for Queen Anne's successor would not be the same individual as the successor to the English throne, unless England granted full freedom of trade to Scottish merchants in England and its colonies. At first Royal Assent was withheld, but the following year Anne capitulated to the wishes of the Estates and assent was granted to the bill, which became the Act of Security 1704. In response the English Parliament passed measures that threatened to restrict Anglo-Scottish trade and cripple the Scottish economy if the Estates did not agree to the Hanoverian succession.Eventually, in 1707, both Parliaments agreed on an Act of Union, which united England and Scotland into a single political entity, the Kingdom of Great Britain, and established the rules of succession as laid down by the Act of Settlement 1701. The union created the largest free trade area in 18th-century Europe.
Whig politicians believed Parliament had the right to determine the succession, and to bestow it on the nearest Protestant relative of the Queen, while many Tories were more inclined to believe in the hereditary right of the Catholic Stuarts, who were nearer relations. In 1710, George announced that he would succeed in Britain by hereditary right, as the right had been removed from the Stuarts, and he retained it. "This declaration was meant to scotch any Whig interpretation that parliament had given him the kingdom [and] ... convince the Tories that he was no usurper."
George's mother, the Electress Sophia, died on 28 May 1714at the age of 83. She had collapsed in the gardens at Herrenhausen after rushing to shelter from a shower of rain. George was now Queen Anne's heir presumptive. He swiftly revised the membership of the Regency Council that would take power after Anne's death, as it was known that Anne's health was failing and politicians in Britain were jostling for power. She suffered a stroke, which left her unable to speak, and died on 1 August 1714. The list of regents was opened, the members sworn in, and George was proclaimed King of Great Britain and Ireland. Partly due to contrary winds, which kept him in The Hague awaiting passage, he did not arrive in Britain until 18 September. George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 20 October. His coronation was accompanied by rioting in over twenty towns in England.
George mainly lived in Great Britain after 1714, though he visited his home in Hanover in 1716, 1719, 1720, 1723 and 1725;in total George spent about one fifth of his reign as king in Germany. A clause in the Act of Settlement that forbade the British monarch from leaving the country without Parliament's permission was unanimously repealed in 1716. During all but the first of the King's absences power was vested in a Regency Council rather than in his son, George Augustus, Prince of Wales.
Within a year of George's accession the Whigs won an overwhelming victory in the general election of 1715. Several members of the defeated Tory Party sympathised with the Jacobites, who sought to replace George with Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart (called "James III and VIII" by his supporters and "the Pretender" by his opponents). Some disgruntled Tories sided with a Jacobite rebellion, which became known as "The Fifteen". James's supporters, led by Lord Mar, an embittered Scottish nobleman who had previously served as a secretary of state, instigated rebellion in Scotland where support for Jacobitism was stronger than in England. "The Fifteen", however, was a dismal failure; Lord Mar's battle plans were poor, and James arrived late with too little money and too few arms. By the end of the year the rebellion had all but collapsed. In February 1716, faced with impending defeat, James and Lord Mar fled to France. After the rebellion was defeated, although there were some executions and forfeitures, George acted to moderate the Government's response, showed leniency, and spent the income from the forfeited estates on schools for Scotland and paying off part of the national debt.
George's distrust of the Tories aided the passing of power to the Whigs.Whig dominance would grow to be so great under George that the Tories would not return to power for another half-century. After the election, the Whig-dominated Parliament passed the Septennial Act 1715, which extended the maximum duration of Parliament to seven years (although it could be dissolved earlier by the Sovereign). Thus Whigs already in power could remain in such a position for a greater period of time.
After his accession in Great Britain, George's relationship with his son (which had always been poor) worsened. George Augustus, Prince of Wales, encouraged opposition to his father's policies, including measures designed to increase religious freedom in Britain and expand Hanover's German territories at the expense of Sweden.In 1717 the birth of a grandson led to a major quarrel between George and the Prince of Wales. The King, supposedly following custom, appointed the Lord Chamberlain, the Duke of Newcastle, as one of the baptismal sponsors of the child. The King was angered when the Prince of Wales, disliking Newcastle, verbally insulted the Duke at the christening, which the Duke misunderstood as a challenge to a duel. The Prince was told to leave the royal residence, St. James's Palace. The Prince's new home, Leicester House, became a meeting place for the King's political opponents. George and his son were later reconciled at the insistence of Robert Walpole and the desire of the Princess of Wales, who had moved out with her husband but missed her children who had been left in the care of the King. However, following the quarrel at the baptism, father and son were never again on cordial terms.
George was active in directing British foreign policy during his early reign. In 1717 he contributed to the creation of the Triple Alliance, an anti-Spanish league composed of Great Britain, France and the Dutch Republic. In 1718 the Holy Roman Empire was added to the body, which became known as the Quadruple Alliance. The subsequent War of the Quadruple Alliance involved the same issue as the War of the Spanish Succession. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) had recognised the grandson of King Louis XIV of France, Philip, as the King of Spain on the condition that he gave up his rights to succeed to the French throne. Upon the death of Louis XIV in 1715, however, Philip sought to overturn the treaty.
Spain supported a Jacobite-led invasion of Scotland in 1719, but stormy seas allowed only about three hundred Spanish troops to arrive in Scotland.A base was established at Eilean Donan Castle on the west Scottish coast in April, only to be destroyed by British ships a month later. Attempts by the Jacobites to recruit Scottish clansmen yielded a fighting force of only about a thousand men. The Jacobites were poorly equipped and were easily defeated by British artillery at the Battle of Glen Shiel. The clansmen dispersed into the Highlands, and the Spaniards surrendered. The invasion never posed any serious threat to George's government. With the French this time fighting against him in the War, Philip's armies fared poorly. As a result, the Spanish and French thrones remained separate. Simultaneously, Hanover gained from the resolution of the Great Northern War, which had been caused by rivalry between Sweden and Russia for control of the Baltic. The Swedish territories of Bremen and Verden were ceded to Hanover in 1719, with Hanover paying Sweden monetary compensation for the loss of territory.
In Hanover, the King was an absolute monarch. All government expenditure above 50 thalers (between 12 and 13 British pounds), and the appointment of all army officers, all ministers, and even government officials above the level of copyist, was in his personal control. By contrast in Great Britain, George had to govern through Parliament.
In 1715 when the Whigs came to power, George's chief ministers included Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Townshend (Walpole's brother-in-law), Lord Stanhope and Lord Sunderland. In 1717 Lord Townshend was dismissed, and Walpole resigned from the Cabinet over disagreements with their colleagues;Lord Stanhope became supreme in foreign affairs, and Lord Sunderland the same in domestic matters.
Lord Sunderland's power began to wane in 1719. He introduced a Peerage Bill that attempted to limit the size of the House of Lords by restricting new creations. The measure would have solidified Sunderland's control of the House by preventing the creation of opposition peers, but it was defeated after Walpole led the opposition to the bill by delivering what was considered "the most brilliant speech of his career".Walpole and Townshend were reappointed as ministers the following year and a new, supposedly unified, Whig government formed.
Greater problems arose over financial speculation and the management of the national debt. Certain government bonds could not be redeemed without the consent of the bondholder and had been issued when interest rates were high; consequently each bond represented a long-term drain on public finances, as bonds were hardly ever redeemed. million (three fifths) of the British national debt by exchanging government securities for stock in the company. The Company bribed Lord Sunderland, George's mistress Melusine von der Schulenburg, and Lord Stanhope's cousin, Charles Stanhope, who was Secretary of the Treasury, to support their plan. The Company enticed bondholders to convert their high-interest, irredeemable bonds to low-interest, easily tradeable stocks by offering apparently preferential financial gains. Company prices rose rapidly; the shares had cost £128 on 1 January 1720, but were valued at £500 when the conversion scheme opened in May. On 24 June the price reached a peak of £1,050. The company's success led to the speculative flotation of other companies, some of a bogus nature, and the Government, in an attempt to suppress these schemes and with the support of the Company, passed the Bubble Act. With the rise in the market now halted, uncontrolled selling began in August, which caused the stock to plummet to £150 by the end of September. Many individuals—including aristocrats—lost vast sums and some were completely ruined. George, who had been in Hanover since June, returned to London in November—sooner than he wanted or was usual—at the request of the ministry.In 1719 the South Sea Company proposed to take over £31
The economic crisis, known as the South Sea Bubble, made George and his ministers extremely unpopular.In 1721 Lord Stanhope, though personally innocent, collapsed and died after a stressful debate in the House of Lords, and Lord Sunderland resigned from public office.
Sunderland, however, retained a degree of personal influence with George until his sudden death in 1722 allowed the rise of Sir Robert Walpole. Walpole became de facto Prime Minister, although the title was not formally applied to him (officially, he was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer). His management of the South Sea crisis, by rescheduling the debts and arranging some compensation, helped the return to financial stability.Through Walpole's skilful management of Parliament, George managed to avoid direct implication in the Company's fraudulent actions. Claims that George had received free stock as a bribe are not supported by evidence; indeed receipts in the Royal Archives show that he paid for his subscriptions and that he lost money in the crash.
As requested by Walpole, George revived the Order of the Bath in 1725, which enabled Walpole to reward or gain political supporters by offering them the honour.Walpole became extremely powerful and was largely able to appoint ministers of his own choosing. Unlike his predecessor, Queen Anne, George rarely attended meetings of the cabinet; most of his communications were in private, and he only exercised substantial influence with respect to British foreign policy. With the aid of Lord Townshend, he arranged for the ratification by Great Britain, France and Prussia of the Treaty of Hanover, which was designed to counterbalance the Austro-Spanish Treaty of Vienna and protect British trade.
George, although increasingly reliant on Walpole, could still have replaced his ministers at will. Walpole was actually afraid of being removed from office towards the end of George I's reign,but such fears were put to an end when George died during his sixth trip to his native Hanover since his accession as king. He suffered a stroke on the road between Delden and Nordhorn on 9 June 1727, and was taken by carriage to the Prince-Bishop's palace at Osnabrück where he died in the early hours before dawn on 11 June 1727. He was buried in the chapel of Leine Palace in Hanover, but his remains were moved to the chapel at Herrenhausen Gardens after World War II. Leine Palace had burnt out entirely after British aerial bombings and the king's remains, along with his parents', were moved to the 19th-century mausoleum of King Ernest Augustus in the Berggarten.
George was succeeded by his son, George Augustus, who took the throne as George II. It was widely assumed, even by Walpole for a time, that George II planned to remove Walpole from office but was prevented from doing so by his wife, Caroline of Ansbach. However, Walpole commanded a substantial majority in Parliament and George II had little choice but to retain him or risk ministerial instability.In subsequent reigns the power of the prime minister increased further at the expense of the power of the sovereign.
George was ridiculed by his British subjects;some of his contemporaries, such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, thought him unintelligent on the grounds that he was wooden in public. Though he was unpopular in Great Britain due to his supposed inability to speak English, such an inability may not have existed later in his reign as documents from that time show that he understood, spoke and wrote English. He certainly spoke fluent German and French, good Latin, and some Italian and Dutch. His treatment of his wife, Sophia Dorothea, became something of a scandal.
The British perceived him as too German, and in the opinion of historian Ragnhild Hatton, wrongly assumed that he had a succession of German mistresses.However, in mainland Europe, he was seen as a progressive ruler supportive of the Enlightenment who permitted his critics to publish without risk of severe censorship, and provided sanctuary to Voltaire when the philosopher was exiled from Paris in 1726. European and British sources agree that George was reserved, temperate and financially prudent; George disliked to be in the public light at social events, avoided the royal box at the opera and often travelled incognito to the house of a friend to play cards. Despite some unpopularity, the Protestant George I was seen by most of his subjects as a better alternative to the Roman Catholic Pretender James. William Makepeace Thackeray indicates such ambivalent feelings as he wrote:
His heart was in Hanover ... He was more than fifty years of age when he came amongst us: we took him because we wanted him, because he served our turn; we laughed at his uncouth German ways, and sneered at him. He took our loyalty for what it was worth; laid hands on what money he could; kept us assuredly from Popery ... I, for one, would have been on his side in those days. Cynical and selfish, as he was, he was better than a king out of St. Germains [James, the Stuart Pretender] with the French king's orders in his pocket, and a swarm of Jesuits in his train.
Writers of the nineteenth century, such as Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott and Lord Mahon, were reliant on biased first-hand accounts published in the previous century such as Lord Hervey's memoirs, and looked back on the Jacobite cause with romantic, even sympathetic, eyes. They in turn, influenced British authors of the first half of the twentieth century such as G. K. Chesterton, who introduced further anti-German and anti-Protestant bias into the interpretation of George's reign. However, in the wake of World War II continental European archives were opened to historians of the later twentieth century and nationalistic anti-German feeling subsided. George's life and reign were re-explored by scholars such as Beattie and Hatton, and his character, abilities and motives re-assessed in a more generous light.John H. Plumb noted that:
Some historians have exaggerated the king's indifference to English affairs and made his ignorance of the English language seem more important than it was. He had little difficulty in communicating with his ministers in French, and his interest in all matters affecting both foreign policy and the court was profound.
Yet the character of George I remains elusive; he was in turn genial and affectionate in private letters to his daughter, and then dull and awkward in public. Perhaps his own mother summed him up when "explaining to those who regarded him as cold and overserious that he could be jolly, that he took things to heart, that he felt deeply and sincerely and was more sensitive than he cared to show."Whatever his true character, he ascended a precarious throne, and either by political wisdom and guile, or through accident and indifference, he left it secure in the hands of the Hanoverians and of Parliament.
As King his arms were: Quarterly, I, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England) impaling Or a lion rampant within a tressure flory-counter-flory Gules (for Scotland); II, Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or (for France); III, Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland); IV, tierced per pale and per chevron (for Hanover), I Gules two lions passant guardant Or (for Brunswick), II Or a semy of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure (for Lüneburg), III Gules a horse courant Argent (for Westphalia), overall an escutcheon Gules charged with the crown of Charlemagne Or (for the dignity of Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire).
|By his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle:|
|George II of Great Britain||9 November 1683||25 October 1760||married 1705 Caroline of Ansbach; had issue|
|Sophia Dorothea of Hanover||26 March 1687||28 June 1757||married 1706 Frederick William, Margrave of Brandenburg (later Frederick William I of Prussia); had issue|
|By his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg:|
|(Anna) Louise Sophia von der Schulenburg||January 1692||1773||married 1707 Ernst August Philipp von dem Bussche-Ippenburg (divorced before 1714); |
created Countess of Delitz by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1722
|(Petronilla) Melusina von der Schulenburg||1693||1778||created Countess of Walsingham for life; married 1733 Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield; no issue|
|Margarethe Gertrud von Oeynhausen||1701||1726||married 1722 Albrecht Wolfgang, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe|
|Dates in this table are New Style.|
|James VI and I||Anne of Denmark|
|Charles I of England||Elizabeth of Bohemia||Frederick V, Elector Palatine||George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg||Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt|
|Mary, Princess Royal||Charles II of England||James II of England||Sophia of Hanover||Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg||George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg|
|William III of England||Mary II of England||Anne, Queen of Great Britain||James Francis Edward||George I of Great Britain||Sophia Dorothea of Celle|
|William, Duke of Gloucester|
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 (O.S.) until his death in 1760.
Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach was Queen of Great Britain as the wife of King George II.
The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.
The House of Hanover, whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a German royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th through 20th centuries. The house originated in 1635 as a cadet branch of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, growing in prestige until Hanover became an Electorate in 1692. George I became the first Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714. At Victoria's death in 1901, the throne of the United Kingdom passed to her eldest son Edward VII, a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The last reigning members of the House lost the Duchy of Brunswick in 1918 when Germany became a republic.
The Royal Marriages Act 1772 was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain, which prescribed the conditions under which members of the British royal family could contract a valid marriage, in order to guard against marriages that could diminish the status of the royal house. The right of veto vested in the sovereign by this act provoked severe adverse criticism at the time of its passage. It was repealed as a result of the 2011 Perth Agreement, which came into force on 26 March 2015. Under the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, the first six people in the line of succession need permission to marry if they and their descendants are to remain in the line of succession.
The House of Welf is a European dynasty that has included many German and British monarchs from the 11th to 20th century and Emperor Ivan VI of Russia in the 18th century.
Hanover is a territory that was at various times a principality within the Holy Roman Empire, an Electorate within the same, an independent Kingdom, and a subordinate Province within the Kingdom of Prussia. The territory was named after its capital, the city of Hanover, which was the principal town of the region from 1636. In contemporary usage, the name is only used for the city; most of the historical territory of Hanover forms the greater part of the German Land of Lower Saxony but excludes certain areas.
Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Celle was the repudiated wife of future King George I of Great Britain, and mother of George II. The union with her first cousin was an arranged marriage of state, instigated by the machinations of his mother, Electress Sophia of Hanover. She is best remembered for her alleged affair with Philip Christoph von Königsmarck that led to her being imprisoned in the Castle of Ahlden for the last thirty years of her life.
George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ruled as Prince of Calenberg from 1635.
George William German: Georg Wilhelm was Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He ruled first over the Principality of Calenberg, a subdivision of the duchy, then over the Lüneburg subdivision. In 1689, he occupied the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg and passed it on to his successors. George William was the father of Sophia Dorothea of Celle, wife of George I of Great Britain.
Sophia Charlotte von Kielmansegg, Countess of Darlington and Countess of Leinster was a German-born British courtier and a half-sister of George I of Great Britain.
(Mary Sophia) Charlotte Howe, Viscountess Howe was a Hanover-born British courtier and politician.
Duke Maximilian William of Brunswick-Lüneburg, often called Max, was a member of the House of Hanover who served as an Imperial Field Marshal.
The following is the Jacobite line of succession to the English and Scottish thrones as of the death of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, on 1 August 1714. It reflects the laws current in England and Scotland immediately before the Act of Settlement 1701, which disqualified Catholics from the throne.
The German Chancery, also known as the Hanoverian Chancery, was the official name given to the office of the Hanoverian ministry in London during the years of personal union between Great Britain and the Electorate of Hanover from 1714 until 1837. The office ceased upon the accession of Queen Victoria in the United Kingdom and King Ernest Augustus in Hanover in 1837.
Herrenhausen Palace is a former royal summer residence of the House of Hanover in the Herrenhausen district of the German city of Hanover. It is the centerpiece of Herrenhausen Gardens.
George I. remained a Lutheran as long as he lived, and had his German chaplain; but he conformed on some occasions with the Church of England. George II. was in the same position. Though Lutherans, they exercised acts of supremacy in the Church of England; and the common opinion was, that there was no opposition between the views of the two Churches
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George I of Great Britain
Cadet branch of the House of WelfBorn: 28 May 1660 Died: 11 June 1727
| Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Calenberg) |
Elector-designate of Hanover
23 January 1698 – 28 August 1705
as Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Calenberg)
as Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg-Celle
| Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg |
Elector-designate of Hanover
28 August 1705 – 7 September 1708
|Title of elector recognised|
|New title|| Elector of Hanover |
7 September 1708 – 11 June 1727
| King of Great Britain and Ireland |
1 August 1714 – 11 June 1727