Rating the Monarchs of Britain: Now Disc. George III

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Zaz, May 27, 2009.

  1. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    13 of them--7 sons and 6 daughters. Two sons--the two youngest, Octavius and Alfred--died in infancy.
  2. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
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    George and Charlotte had fifteen children, and at first, they were a happy and united family. George never had a mistress, and Charlotte was delighted (and rather surprised) by this.

    But gradually things went sour. George had four brothers, and once he began begetting sons of his own at a great rate (four of his first six children were boys), these men became superfluous. His immediately younger brother, Edward, died in his twenties, unmarried; his other brothers both married English commoners. Angry and shocked by this--George never understood people that were less dutiful than he was himself--the King passed a law called The Royal Marriages Act, which basically said that he had to consent to the marriage of any member of the Royal Family or else the marriage was void.

    Once they had a 'heir and a spare' (ie. two sons), most Kings eased off on the procreation. George didn't. Eventually he had nine sons, but he and Charlotte only arranged marriages for the first two, George and Frederick. The other five (two died in infancy) were left in limbo. William, Edward, Ernest, Adolphus and Augustus lived with mistresses, but they couldn't marry them.

    George and Charlotte's six daughters had an even worse time. George's two surviving sisters, Augusta and Caroline Matilda married Europeans--Augusta to the Duke of Brunswick, and Caroline Matilda to the King of Denmark. Both marriages were disasters, especially the latter (George had to send British warships to Copenhagen to rescue Caroline from the Danes). George decided that he would not allow a European marriage for any of his daughters, and he wouldn't allow them to marry commoners, either. They, too, existed in limbo, and at least one of them, Sophia, had an illegitimate child. When George went mad, his eldest son allowed his sisters to get married if they wanted to, and three did; but none of them had any children, other than Sophia.


    The three eldest daughters: Charlotte, Augusta & Elizabeth


    The three youngest daughters: Mary, Sophia & Amelia

    The parents with the first six children: [image=http://images-mediawiki-sites.thefullwiki.org/06/4/1/5/81972982068980195.jpg]

    The result was that George and Charlotte had fifteen children and exactly one legitimate grandchild--the Prince of Wales' daughter, Charlotte. (Frederick's wife was barren).
  3. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    As noted upthread, the triumph of Britain in the Seven Year's War (1757-63) led directly to the American Revolution. Once the French were no longer a presence in America, the 13 colonies no longer needed Britain to protect them. Needless to say, the British did not quite understand this, and thus their policy that the colonies should help pay for the huge expense of the War. The colonies said, not unless we get a vote in the Parliament; the Brits said that's just an excuse, you'd be outvoted anyway. Both sides were right, and both were wrong. The crowning insult seems to have been giving the Ohio valley to Quebec. (The colonies also didn't much like that the British Crown also guaranteed Quebec's right to practice Catholicism and other heathen-to them-customs). About one third of the population was rebellious, one third--particularly the South--was loyal, and one third did not care.

    The result was the American Revolutionary War. France, still smarting from the Seven Year's War, openly supported the Americans. One can only describe this support as extraordinarily short-sighted. Yes, they embarrassed the British, but the ancien regime also dug its own grave. Their support of the Americans racked up a huge debt, which eventually brought down the French Monarchy in revolutionary flames. Schadenfreude is expensive.

    The Americans attacked Canada, but were unsuccessful there; the Quebecois were francophone conservatives, and the anti-Catholic rhetoric of the revolutionaries didn't go over particularly well.

    And at the end of it all, it didn't make a whole lot of difference. The British no longer had to support the colonies financially, which proved a plus, and still traded with them constantly, another plus. But the lingering effects were negative, and as late as the American Civil War, we see the unedifying spectacle of the British government favouring the slave-holding South. Schadenfreude again. To the credit of the British middle and working classes, however, they supported the North. It was just the chattering classes and some of the aristocrats that did not.

    This brings us to another feature of George's very long reign; the monarchy became less affiliated to the aristocracy and more to the middle-class. George's middle-class tastes, and his faithfulness to his wife helped there.

    The American Revolution begat the French Revolution, which was much more bloody and theory-driven, and the French Revolution begat the First Empire and Napoleon, a Corsican adventurer and brilliant general. Because of Napoleon, Britain was re-integrated back into the European system after its exile after the Seven Year's War. It would take Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, and Britain together to take Napoleon down, and even then, it was close-run thing.

    Napoleon conquered great chunks of Europe, and allied himself with the rest of it. Finally only Britain and Russia lay outside his influence. Foiled in invasion plans by Britain's navy, he invaded Russia instead. Though he captured Moscow, the Russians' cold refusal to treat with him startled and enraged him. He had to retreat back to the border, the Russians taking pot-shots at him the whole long way.

    What was George doing during all this? Well, he was disastrously involved in the politics of the American Revolution, but thereafter, he became unable to wield much influence because he became subject to attacks of what appeared to be madness.
  4. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 7
    I was following this thread in the beginning closely, haven't lately but will try to eventually catch up, but it seems to me that the most influential Monarchs of Britain have been Queens.

    Queen Elizabeth I... restoring stability after the religious chaos (that started with her father's desire to marry her mother), and presiding over England surpassing Spain to become the power in the world... the Queen of Brtain's Sunrise

    Queen Victoria... long reign, presiding over the time when the sun never set on the empire, the apex of Britain... the Queen of Britain's High Noon

    Queen Elizabeth II... long reign, presiding over Britain's peaceful decline... the Queen of Britain's Sunset

    Does it seem this way to anyone else?
  5. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    There have been lots of powerful kings, too--Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan, William I, Henry I, Henry II, Edward I, Edward III, Henry VII, Henry VIII, and George II.
  6. darthdrago Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    Zaz, have you ever seen the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon shorts that used to air on America's ABC network? This was from the mid-1970s thru early 1990s, IIRC. Ever see the "America Rock" shorts in particular? (I'm guessing Canada may not have broadcast those.)
  7. Nevermind Jedi Knight

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    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
  8. darthdrago Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    They're songs. 3-minute animated clips that ran between Saturday morning cartoons, teaching kids basic math, science, language skills, etc. I've read that most of them were in fact broadcast in Canada at one time.

    During the US bicentennial in 1976, there was a series of clips that were intended to teach basic US history to children. However, some (well, all) of the clips veered on propaganda. Great Britain & George III did not get a flattering portrayal in three clips in particular:

    [link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0LmYEjXNIg]No More Kings[/link]


    [link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhdmDDBjco0]Shot Heard 'Round the World[/link]

    Ironically, the last one might be the most historically accurate.

    However, since you're a historian, it might make you feel better about the fact that the [link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fA1gcJ7CVE]most offensive clip[/link] isn't even about the Revolution or George III. But it might explain how we get the expertise of the Palins and the Bachmanns...
  9. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    I don't know that I've seen any of these before, actually. "Elbow Room" sounds weirdly like the Nazis.

    Back to George III. When he was 27, he had a bout of illness--pains in his side, fever--which was quite severe. He recovered, but in 1788, then aged 50, he had a dreadful and severe attack, which lasted a long time. He was hyper-active, talked endlessly, had attacks of pain and dementia. A regency was discussed, but then he recovered. In 1804, he had another short bout, and in 1810, blind and demented, he had a final attack, that caused permanent derangement. For the last ten years of his life, until his death in 1820, he was confined, and his eldest son acted as Regent. This ten-year period is know in history as the Regency.
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    That's interesting; 1810-1820 wasn't exactly a quiet decade for Britian either. How did the Regency go?
  11. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    Better than you might expect given the Prince of Wales' behaviour--he suffered from a lot of the same symptoms as his father, with the exception of the dementia. However, he was very careful to keep them quiet, since he saw his father's fate. He suspected one of his brothers, the Duke of Cumberland, was just panting to clap him in a straightjacket. He was probably right, since the absolutist Cumberland wanted to be King himself. (He didn't make it in England, as it turned out, but only because the brother immediately ahead of him, Edward of Kent, managed to have a legitimate child.) However, because of the Salic Law, Cumberland *did* become King of Hanover.
  12. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
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    Until the late 60's, George III was supposed by historians to have suffered from schizophrenia, which explained his mania, but not his terrible physical symptoms. They included:

    Anxiety or restlessness
    Severe abdominal pain
    Pain in arms, legs or back
    Muscle pain, tingling, numbness, weakness or paralysis
    Excessive sweating
    Red urine
    High blood pressure

    One of these symptoms, namely the red urine ('like port wine') was noticed by a mother and son pair of historians, Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter. They did extensive research, and in 1969 published a book called "George III and the Mad Business" which linked his illness not with schizophrenia, but with porphyria, an inherited genetic condition--a physical illness. The book determined that several of George's ancestors and relatives had the tell-tale red urine--most notably James I, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and his father 'the Soldier King' (Frederick was the first cousin of George's father).

    There was an immediate outcry in the British historical clique against the book, which had to do somewhat with sexism (Macalpine), anti-Semitism (Macalpine and Hunter were both German Jews, who had assumed more British-sounding names), but mostly anger that they had been shown up. A lot of British historians spent a good deal of time trying to show the theory was incorrect, some with a certain success. However, over the years it has been widely accepted, mainly because it explains a lot of curious things in the histories of both George and his ancestors (and descendants).

    The book went back only to Mary, Queen of Scots, who also showed symptoms. James I was her son, and both his parents had Tudor blood. It is usually accepted that it came from the Tudors, though it is not known how. Henry VII had bouts of mania before he died, but he did not live long enough for it to become full-blown.

    If it does come from the Tudors, then the most interesting figure is that of Henry VII's grandmother, Katherine de Valois, princess of France. Whose father was [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_VI_of_France]Charles the Mad[/link]. You will see that Charles' bouts of madness are described as 'psychosis' but it's possible he also suffered from the disease. It does not seem to have persisted in the French royal family, but Katherine's son by Henry V, Henry VI, also suffered from mental illness.

    The book also mentioned (without naming names) four descendants of George II or George III that showed signs of the disease. The authors asked the current Duke of Cumberland for a stool sample (he is a direct male-line descendant of George III's fifth son, ironically the only one with no known symptoms). The Duke was so disdainful of Macalpine and Hunter that he provided a sample from his wife instead of himself. It showed 'weak-positive'. He thought that meant the tests were bogus. But not exactly: his wife was a descendant of George II.

    And a positive result was definitely shown in the case of the Queen's first cousin, William of Gloucester, who had a full-blown case without mania. However, his mother was also a descendant of Charles II, so they were not able to tell if he inherited it from his father or his mother (in all probability, it was both).

    The disease has not shown up in other members of the Queen's immediate family. However, a good case has been made for the Kaiser's sister, Charlotte, and her only child. The Kaiser was suspected of being mentally off several times. His mother was Queen Victoria's eldest daughter. However, his father could be the source of the disease, too, because it infested the Prussian Royal Family, who were also descended from Mary, Queen of Scots. The 'Soldier King' was a classic case, with mania; his son, Frederick the Great, was a classic case without mania. Numerous members of the family were sufferers, and it passed into the Bavarian royal fa
  13. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    George III had 15 children; a great many of them displayed various symptoms of porphyria.

    George IV had nearly all the symptoms, with the exception of mania;
    Frederick ditto;
    William IV ditto;
    Charlotte had some of the symptoms;
    Edward displayed few symptoms (father of Queen Victoria);
    Augusta had some of the symptoms;
    Elizabeth had several symptoms;
    Ernest had no known symptoms;
    Adolphus had few symptoms (grandfather of Queen Mary)
    Augustus had nearly all the symptoms except mania;
    Mary had a few symptoms;
    Sophia had nearly all the symptoms, except mania;
    Octavius died young;
    Alfred died young;
    Amelia had nearly all the symptoms, except mania.
  14. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
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    The current royal family are direct descendants of two of George III's granddaughters: Queen Victoria (Edward, Duke of Kent) and Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge). Both these sons were relatively symptom-free; but as noted, a full blown case showed up in one of their descendants.

    The fifth son, Ernest, is the ancestor of the only direct male descendants of George III, the current House of Hanover. Ernest does not seem to have been afflicted, but he may be a carrier.

  15. Nevermind Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    Because of his illness, it is not really possible to rate George III.

    He seems to have been a decent, well-meaning man, but stubborn and judgmental. His relationship with his daughters was close, and with his sons, miserable.

    He lived to be the oldest King of England ever, dying aged 81, despite the terrible mental and physical sufferings he endured. (It's a tough job; only three English monarches, George III, his granddaughter Victoria, and his great-great granddaughter Elizabeth II, have lived into their 80's. George and Victoria lived to 81; Elizabeth is currently 85.)