GEORGE II (George Augustus; German: Georg II. August; 30 October / 9
November 1683O.S./N.S. – 25 October 1760) was King of Great Britain
and Ireland , Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (
George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain: he
was born and brought up in northern Germany . His grandmother, Sophia
As king from 1727, George exercised little control over British
domestic policy, which was largely controlled by the Parliament of
For two centuries after George II's death, history tended to view him with disdain, concentrating on his mistresses, short temper and boorishness. Since then, most scholars have reassessed his legacy and conclude that he held and exercised influence in foreign policy and military appointments.
* 1 Early life * 2 Marriage
* 3.1 Quarrel with the king * 3.2 Political opposition
* 4 Early reign * 5 Family problems * 6 War and rebellion
* 7 Later life
* 7.1 Seven Years\' War * 7.2 Death
* 8 Legacy
* 9 Titles, styles and arms
* 9.1 Titles and styles * 9.2 Arms
* 10 Issue * 11 Ancestry * 12 Notes * 13 Sources * 14 Bibliography * 15 Further reading * 16 External links
George as a young boy with his mother, Sophia Dorothea of Celle
, and his sister, Sophia Dorothea of
George was born in the city of
George spoke only French , the language of diplomacy and the court, until the age of four, after which he was taught German by one of his tutors, Johann Hilmar Holstein. In addition to French and German, he was also schooled in English and Italian , and studied genealogy, military history and battle tactics with particular diligence.
George's second cousin once removed , Queen Anne , ascended the thrones of England , Scotland and Ireland in 1702. She had no surviving children, and by the Act of Settlement 1701 the English Parliament designated Anne's closest Protestant blood relations , George's grandmother Sophia and her descendants, as Anne's heirs in England and Ireland. Consequently, after his grandmother and father, George was third in line to succeed Anne in two of her three realms. He was naturalized as an English subject in 1705 by the Sophia Naturalization Act , and in 1706 he was made a Knight of the Garter and created Duke and Marquess of Cambridge , Earl of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton and Baron Tewkesbury in the Peerage of England . England and Scotland united in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain , and jointly accepted the succession as laid down by the English Act of Settlement.
George's father did not want his son to enter into a loveless
arranged marriage as he had, and wanted him to have the opportunity of
meeting his bride before any formal arrangements were made.
Negotiations from 1702 for the hand of Princess Hedvig Sophia of
Sweden , Dowager Duchess and regent of
Holstein-Gottorp , came to
nothing. In June 1705, under the false name of "Monsieur de Busch",
George visited the Ansbach court at their summer residence in
Triesdorf to investigate incognito a marriage prospect: Caroline of
Ansbach , the former ward of his aunt Queen Sophia Charlotte of
Prussia . The English envoy to Hanover,
Edmund Poley , reported that
George was so taken by "the good character he had of her that he would
not think of anybody else". A marriage contract was concluded by the
end of July. On 22 August / 2 September 1705O.S./N.S. Caroline
George was keen to participate in the war against France in Flanders , but his father refused permission for him to join the army in an active role until he had a son and heir. In early 1707, George's hopes were fulfilled when Caroline gave birth to a son, Frederick . In July, Caroline fell seriously ill with smallpox , and George caught the infection after staying by her side devotedly during her illness. They both recovered. In 1708, George participated in the Battle of Oudenarde in the vanguard of the Hanoverian cavalry; his horse and a colonel immediately beside him were killed, but George survived unharmed. The British commander, Marlborough , wrote that George "distinguished himself extremely, charging at the head of and animating by his example troops, who played a good part in this happy victory". Between 1709 and 1713, George and Caroline had three more children, all girls: Anne , Amelia , and Caroline .
By 1714, Queen Anne's health had declined, and British Whigs ,
politicians who supported the Hanoverian succession, thought it
prudent for one of the Hanoverians to live in England, to safeguard
the Protestant succession on Anne's death. As George was a peer of the
realm (as Duke of Cambridge), it was suggested that he be summoned to
Parliament to sit in the
House of Lords
PRINCE OF WALES
QUARREL WITH THE KING
London, c. 1710 Portrait by Kneller, 1716
George and his father sailed for England from
In July 1716, the king returned to
His father distrusted or was jealous of George's popularity, which contributed to the development of a poor relationship between them. The birth in 1717 of George's second son, Prince George William , proved to be a catalyst for a family quarrel; 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 George, who disliked Newcastle, verbally insulted the duke at the christening, which the duke misunderstood as a challenge to a duel.B George and Caroline were temporarily confined to their apartments on the order of the king, who subsequently banished his son from St James\'s Palace , the king's residence. The Prince and Princess of Wales left court, but their children remained in the care of the king.
George and Caroline missed their children, and were desperate to see them. On one occasion they secretly visited the palace without the approval of the king; Caroline fainted and George "cried like a child". The king partially relented and permitted them to visit once a week, though he later allowed Caroline unconditional access. The following February, George William died, with his father by his side.
Banned from the palace and shunned by his own father, for the next
several years the
Prince of Wales
The king visited
In 1721, the economic disaster of the
South Sea Bubble
Portrait by Charles Jervas , c. 1727
George I died on 11/22 June 1727 during one of his visits to Hanover, and George II succeeded him as king and elector at the age of 43. The new king decided not to travel to Germany for his father's funeral, which far from bringing criticism led to praise from the English who considered it proof of his fondness for England. He suppressed his father's will because it attempted to split the Hanoverian succession between George II's future grandsons rather than vest all the domains (both in Britain and Hanover) in a single person. Both British and Hanoverian ministers considered the will unlawful, as George I did not have the legal power to determine the succession personally. Critics supposed that George II hid the will to avoid paying out his father's legacies.
George II was crowned at
It was widely believed that George would dismiss Walpole, who had
distressed him by joining his father's government, and replace him
with Sir Spencer Compton . George asked Compton, rather than Walpole,
to write his first speech as king for him, but Compton asked Walpole
to draft it. Caroline advised George to retain Walpole, who continued
to gain royal favour by securing a generous civil list (a fixed annual
amount set by Parliament for the king's official expenditure) of
£800,000. Walpole commanded a substantial majority in Parliament and
George had little choice but to retain him or risk ministerial
instability. Compton was ennobled as Lord Wilmington the following
year. Portrait by
Walpole directed domestic policy, and after the resignation of his brother-in-law Townshend in 1730 also controlled George's foreign policy. Historians generally believe that George played an honorific role in Britain, and closely followed the advice of Walpole and senior ministers who made the major decisions. Although the king was eager for war in Europe, his ministers were more cautious. The Anglo-Spanish War was brought to an end, and George unsuccessfully pressed Walpole to join the War of the Polish Succession on the side of the German states. In April 1733, Walpole withdrew an unpopular excise bill that had gathered strong opposition, including from within his own party. George lent support to Walpole by dismissing the bill's opponents from their court offices .
George II's relationship with his son and heir apparent, Frederick,
Prince of Wales
In May 1736, George returned to Hanover, which resulted in
unpopularity in England; a satirical notice was even pinned to the
St James's Palace
Prince of Wales
Soon afterwards, George's wife Caroline died on 20 November 1737
(O.S.). He was deeply affected by her death, and to the surprise of
many displayed "a tenderness of which the world thought him before
utterly incapable". On her deathbed she told her sobbing husband to
remarry, to which he replied, "Non, j'aurai des maîtresses!" (French
for "No, I shall have mistresses!"). It was common knowledge that
George had already had mistresses during his marriage, and he had kept
Caroline informed about them. Henrietta Howard , later Countess of
Suffolk, had moved to
WAR AND REBELLION
Against Walpole's wishes, but to George's delight, Britain reopened
hostilities with Spain in 1739. Britain's conflict with Spain, the
War of Jenkins\' Ear , became part of the War of the Austrian
Succession when a major European dispute broke out upon the death of
Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740. At issue was the right of
Prince Frederick campaigned actively for the opposition in the
British general election, 1741 , and Walpole was unable to secure a
stable majority. Walpole attempted to buy off the prince with the
promise of an increased allowance and offered to pay off his debts,
but Frederick refused. With his support eroded, Walpole retired in
1742 after over 20 years in office. He was replaced by Spencer
Compton, Lord Wilmington , whom George had originally considered for
the premiership in 1727. Lord Wilmington, however, was a figurehead;
actual power was held by others, such as Lord Carteret , George's
favourite minister after Walpole. When Wilmington died in 1743, Henry
Pelham took his place at the head of the government. George II
envisioned at the
Battle of Dettingen in 1743 by
Half-Crown of George II, 1746. The inscription reads GEORGIUS II DEI
GRATIA (George II by the Grace of God). The word LIMA under the king's
head signifies that the coin was struck from silver seized from the
Spanish treasure fleet
The pro-war faction was led by Carteret, who claimed that French
power would increase if
Tension grew between the Pelham ministry and George, as he continued to take advice from Carteret and rejected pressure from his other ministers to include William Pitt the Elder in the Cabinet, which would have broadened the government's support base. The king disliked Pitt because he had previously opposed government policy and attacked measures seen as pro-Hanoverian. In February 1746, Pelham and his followers resigned. George asked Lord Bath and Carteret to form an administration, but after less than 48 hours they returned the seals of office, unable to secure sufficient parliamentary support. Pelham returned to office triumphant, and George was forced to appoint Pitt to the ministry.
George's French opponents encouraged rebellion by the Jacobites , the
supporters of the Roman Catholic claimant to the British throne, James
Francis Edward Stuart , often known as the Old Pretender. Stuart was
the son of James II , who had been deposed in 1688 and replaced by his
Protestant relations. Two prior rebellions in 1715 and 1719 had
failed. In July 1745, the Old Pretender's son,
Charles Edward Stuart
Portrait by John Shackleton , in or after 1755
In the general election of 1747 , the
Prince of Wales
SEVEN YEARS\' WAR
In 1754, Pelham died, to be succeeded by his elder brother, the Duke
of Newcastle . Hostility between France and Britain, particularly over
the colonization of North America , continued. Fearing a French
invasion of Hanover, George aligned himself with Prussia (ruled by his
Frederick the Great ), the enemy of Austria. Russia and France
allied with their former enemy Austria. A French invasion of the
British-held island of Minorca led to the outbreak of the Seven
Years\' War in 1756. Public disquiet over British failures at the
start of the conflict led to the resignation of Newcastle and the
appointment of the Duke of Devonshire as prime minister and William
Pitt the Elder as
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
George's son, the Duke of Cumberland, commanded the king's troops in
northern Germany. In 1757,
In the annus mirabilis of 1759 British forces captured Quebec and
Guadeloupe . A French plan to invade Britain was defeated following
naval battles at Lagos and Quiberon Bay , and a resumed French
By October 1760, George II was blind in one eye, and hard of hearing. On the morning of 25 October, he rose as usual at 6:00 am, drank a cup of hot chocolate, and went to his close stool , alone. After a few minutes, his valet heard a loud crash. He entered the room to find the king on the floor. The king was lifted into his bed, and Princess Amelia was sent for, but before she reached him, he was dead. At the age of nearly 77, he had lived longer than any of his English or British predecessors. A post-mortem revealed that the right ventricle of the king's heart had ruptured as the result of an incipient aortic aneurysm .
George II was succeeded by his grandson
George III , and was buried
on 11 November in
George donated the royal library to the
During George II's reign British interests expanded throughout the
world, the Jacobite challenge to the Hanoverian dynasty was
extinguished, and the power of ministers and Parliament in Britain
became well-established. Nevertheless, in the memoirs of
contemporaries such as Lord Hervey and
TITLES, STYLES AND ARMS
TITLES AND STYLES
* From 9 NOVEMBER 1706 (O.S.): Duke and Marquess of Cambridge, Earl
of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton and Baron of Tewkesbury.
* 1 AUGUST 1714 (O.S.) – 27 SEPTEMBER 1714 (O.S.): His Royal
Highness George Augustus, Prince of Great Britain, Electoral Prince of
Duke of Cornwall
George II's full style was "George the Second, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith , Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire".
When George became
Prince of Wales
Caroline's ten pregnancies resulted in eight live births. One of their children died in infancy, and seven lived to adulthood.
NAME BIRTH DEATH NOTES
Frederick, Prince of Wales
Anne, Princess Royal
000000001709-11-02-00002 November 1709
000000001759-01-12-000012 January 1759
William IV, Prince of Orange
Princess Amelia 000000001711-06-10-000010 June 1711 000000001786-10-31-000031 October 1786 never married, no issue
Princess Caroline 000000001713-06-10-000010 June 1713 000000001757-12-28-000028 December 1757 never married, no issue
Stillborn son 000000001716-11-20-000020 November 1716 000000001716-11-20-000020 November 1716
Prince George William 000000001717-11-13-000013 November 1717 000000001718-02-17-000017 February 1718 died in infancy
Miscarriage 000000001718-01-01-00001718 000000001718-01-01-00001718
Prince William, Duke of Cumberland 000000001721-04-26-000026 April 1721 000000001765-10-31-000031 October 1765 never married, no issue
Princess Mary 000000001723-03-05-00005 March 1723 000000001772-01-14-000014 January 1772 married 1740, Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel ; had issue
Princess Louisa 000000001724-12-18-000018 December 1724 000000001751-12-19-000019 December 1751 married 1743, Frederick V, King of Denmark and Norway ; had issue
Dates in this table are New Style
ANCESTORS OF GEORGE II OF GREAT BRITAIN
9. Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt (=13)
5. Sophia, Princess Palatine of the Rhine
11. Elizabeth Stuart
1. GEORGE II OF GREAT BRITAIN
13. Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt (=9)
14. Alexandre II Desmier, Seigneur d'Olbreuse
7. Éléonore Desmier d\'Olbreuse, Countess of Wilhelmsburg
15. Jacquette Poussard de Vandré
* ^O.S./N.S. Over the course of George's life, two calendars were
used: the Old Style
* ^ A B Cannon.
* ^ Thompson, p. 10.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 6.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 35–36; Thompson, p. 19; Van der Kiste,
* ^ Thompson, p. 16.
* ^ Trench, p. 7; Van der Kiste, p. 9.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 35–36.
* ^ Union with Scotland Act 1706 and Union with England Act 1707,
The National Archives, retrieved 20 September 2011.
* ^ A B Van der Kiste, p. 17.
* ^ Thompson, p. 28.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 15.
* ^ Thompson, p. 30; Van der Kiste, p. 16.
* ^ Thompson, p. 31; Van der Kiste, p. 18.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 19.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 21.
* ^ Thompson, p. 32; Trench, p. 18; Van der Kiste, p. 22.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 23.
* ^ Thompson, p. 37.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 30.
* ^ Thompson, p. 38.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 36.
* ^ Trench, p. 38; Van der Kiste, p. 37.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 39–40; Trench, p. 39.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 37.
* ^ Trench, p. 55; Van der Kiste, p. 44.
* ^ Trench, pp. 63–65; Van der Kiste, p. 55.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 59.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 45; Thompson, p. 47.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 61.
* ^ Trench, p. 75; Van der Kiste, p. 61.
* ^ Trench, p. 77.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 46; Thompson, p. 53; Trench, p. 78.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 66.
* ^ Van der Kiste, pp. 66–67.
* ^ Trench, p. 80.
* ^ Trench, pp. 67, 87.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 48–50, 55.
* ^ Trench, pp. 79, 82.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 71.
* ^ Thompson, p. 57; Trench, pp. 88–90; Van der Kiste, pp.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 52; Thompson, p. 58; Trench, p. 89.
* ^ Trench, pp. 88–89.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 54; Thompson, pp. 58–59.
* ^ Trench, pp. 104–105.
* ^ Trench, pp. 106–107.
* ^ Thompson, p. 45; Trench, p. 107.
* ^ A B Van der Kiste, p. 97.
* ^ Trench, pp. 130–131.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 88; Cannon; Trench, pp. 130–131.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 77.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 80; Trench, p. 132.
* ^ Trench, pp. 132–133.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 81–84; Black, Walpole in Power, pp.
29–31, 53, 61.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 95.
* ^ Trench, p. 149.
* ^ Thompson, p. 92.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 95.
* ^ Trench, pp. 173–174; Van der Kiste, p. 138.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 141–143; Thompson, pp. 102–103;
Trench, pp. 166–167.
* ^ Trench, pp. 141–142; Van der Kiste, pp. 115–116.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 85–86; Van der Kiste, pp. 118, 126, 139.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 118.
* ^ Trench, p. 179.
* ^ Trench, pp. 182–184; Van der Kiste, pp. 149–150.
* ^ Trench, p. 185–187; Van der Kiste, p. 152.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 153.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 136; Thompson, pp. 7, 64; Trench, p. 150.
* ^ Trench, pp. 189–190; Van der Kiste, pp. 153–154.
* ^ Thompson, p. 120; Trench, p. 192; Van der Kiste, pp. 155–157.
* ^ Trench, p. 196; Van der Kiste, p. 158.
* ^ Hervey's Memoirs, vol. III, p. 916, quoted in Thompson, p. 124,
and Van der Kiste, p. 165.
* ^ Thompson, p. 124; Trench, p. 199.
* ^ Thompson, p. 92; Trench, pp. 175, 181.
* ^ Van der Kiste, pp. 25, 137.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 157; Kilburn; Weir, p. 284.
* ^ Trench, pp. 205–206.
* ^ Trench, p. 210.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 133, 139.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 174; Trench, p. 212.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 86.
* ^ Thompson, p. 150.
* ^ "Silver \'Lima\' crown (5 shillings) of George II", British
Museum , retrieved 26 August 2011 Archive at the Wayback Machine
(archived 29 April 2011)
* ^ Trench, pp. 211–212.
* ^ Trench, pp. 206–209.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 111; Trench, pp. 136, 208; Van der Kiste,
* ^ Thompson, p. 148; Trench, pp. 217–223.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 181–184; Van der Kiste, pp. 179–180.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 185–186; Thompson, p. 160; Van der
Kiste, p. 181.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 190–193; Thompson, pp. 162, 169;
Trench, pp. 234–235.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 164, 184, 195.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 190–193; Cannon; Trench, pp. 234–235.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 184.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 190–191.
* ^ Van der Kiste, pp. 186–187.
* ^ Thompson, pp. 187–189.
* ^ Black, George II, p. 199; Trench, p. 243; Van der Kiste, p.
* ^ Van der Kiste, p. 189.
* ^ Thompson, p. 208; Trench, p. 247.
* ^ Black, George II, pp. 207–211; Thompson, p. 209; Trench, p.
249; Van der Kiste, p. 195.
* ^ Thompson, p. 211.
* Ashley, Mike (1998) The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. London: Robinson. ISBN 1-84119-096-9 * Best, Nicholas (1995) The Kings and Queens of England. London: Weidenfeld font-size: 90%; color: #555">(subscription or UK public library membership required) * Haag, Eugène; Haag, Émile; Bordier, Henri Léonard (1877) La France Protestante. Paris: Sandoz et Fischbacher (in French) online edition * Huberty, Michel; Giraud, Alain; Magdelaine, F. et B. (1981) L'Allemagne Dynastique. Volume 3: Brunswick-Nassau-Schwarzbourg. Le Perreux-sur-Marne: Giraud. ISBN 2-901138-03-9 * Kilburn, Matthew (2004) "Wallmoden, Amalie Sophie Marianne von, suo jure countess of Yarmouth (1704–1765)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 30 November 2012 doi :10.1093/ref:odnb/28579 (subscription or UK public library membership required) * Pinches, John Harvey ; Pinches, Rosemary (1974) The Royal Heraldry of England. Slough, Buckinghamshire: Hollen Street Press. ISBN 0-900455-25-X * Thompson, Andrew C. (2011) George II: King and Elector. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11892-6 * Trench, Charles Chevenix (1975) George II. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-0481-X * Van der Kiste, John (1997) George II and Queen Caroline. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1321-5 * Weir, Alison (1996) Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: Random House. ISBN 0-7126-7448-9
* Bultmann, William A. (1966) "Early Hanoverian England (1714–1760): Some Recent Writings" in Elizabeth Chapin Furber, ed. Changing views on British history: essays on historical writing since 1939. Harvard University Press, pp. 181–205 * Dickinson, Harry T.; introduced by A. L. Rowse (1973) Walpole and the Whig Supremacy. London: The English Universities Press. ISBN 0-340-11515-7 * Hervey, John Hervey Baron (1931) Some materials towards memoirs of the reign of King George II. Eyre revized by C. H. Stuart (1962) The Whig Supremacy 1714–1760. Second edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
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