Sunday, July 28, 2013

George, a name with a long and colourful history

With worldwide celebrations at the birth of George, Prince of Cambridge this week, it seems timely to go back and revisit the first of the Georges of the Regency Period with regency writer, Sasha Cottman
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, July 2013

George III ruled from 1760-1820. Unfortunately during the final years of his reign, his mental health collapsed and his eldest son, later to rule as George IV became Regent.

A deeply religious man, he married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, meeting her for the first time on their wedding day and remained faithful to her for the rest of his life. The royal couple had 15 children, and their two eldest sons reigned in turn after their father’s death.

King George III, Coronation Portrait 1762
In 1761 he purchased Buckingham House as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. Over time the house would be have significant extensions made and eventually become Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to live at Buckingham Palace in 1837.

King George III’s reign is synonymous with the loss of the American colonies during the American War of Independence. English settlers in the American colonies were not represented in the English parliament and discord grew with the imposition of direct taxes on the colonies without their consent.

With the colonies declaring themselves independent of Britain in 1774, armed conflict followed. Over time the American colonies formed alliances with France, Spain and Holland and support for British rule in America began to wane in England.

George III eventually signed the Treaties of Paris in 1782 and 1783 recognising the independence of the American states.

The madness to which he would eventually succumb had its first serious impact on his ability to reign in 1788 and by 1789 a bill to form a Regency had been prepared. The King would spend hours speaking non-stop, while foaming at the mouth. At times he was physically restrained by his physicians and give poultices to draw out the ‘evil humours.’  To most people’s surprise he recovered from this bout of madness and the bill to form a Regency was withdrawn from parliament.

In 1789 the French royal family was overthrown and the new Republic of France declared.  The eventual war with Napoleon and the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 saw George III’s popularity at home reach its peak.

Unfortunately the King’s health continued to deteriorate and the death of his youngest and favourite daughter Princess Amelia in 1810, is thought to have triggered his final bout of madness.  By 1811, the King had become permanently insane and Parliament passed the Regency Act, effectively handing power over to the Prince of Wales.

King George III spent the rest of his life in seclusion at Windsor Castle.

After his death in 1820 he was succeeded to the throne by his son George IV.

George III lived for over 81 years and reigned for 59 of them. Since then only Queen Victoria and the present Queen Elizabeth II have lived and reigned longer.

Sasha Cottman loves the Regency period and blogs about her attempts to recreate recipes from the 18th and 19th century on her website (with mixed success). Her web site is and her debut Regency historical, LETTER FROM A RAKE is available as an eBook from Penguin Books.

1 comment:

Cassandra Samuels said...

Fascinating. Thank you Sasha.