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George IV and Posterity

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Steve Parissien looks at the posthumous assessments of George IV and his reign - and finds the king's historical reputation falls short of the image he sought to project.

Never in modern times has a sovereign died so unlamented, nor the person of the monarch retained so little respect after death, as George IV. Robert Huish’s venomous biography of 1830-31 declared of the late king, who had died in June 1830, that ‘with a personal income exceeding the national revenue of a third-rate power, there appeared to be no limit to his desires, nor any restraint to his profusion’. Rejecting the argument that ‘his example was too secluded to operate dangerously on the manners of the people’, Huish claimed instead that George IV had contributed more ‘to the demoralisation of society than any prince recorded in the pages of history’.


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