Georges I & II: Limited Monarchs

Jeremy Black reminds us of the importance of two of Britain’s less well-loved monarchs.

The first two Hanoverians, George I (r. 1714-27) and his son George II (r. 1727-60), have not had a terribly good press. Unpopular with their contemporaries, they have not subsequently been seen as great rulers. George I is chiefly remembered for his personal life, not least the thirty-year incarceration of his adulterous wife, Sophia Dorothea (1666-1726), the disappearance of her lover Philipp Christoph von Konigsmarck in 1694, and George’s subsequent attachment to the Duchess of Kendal. George II is generally seen as a headstrong, blinkered boor, manipulated in his early years as king by his wife, Queen Caroline (1683-1737), and by his chief minister Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745). Neither has left much correspondence to provide his own point of view or to offer sympathetic insights on character and goals.

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