Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Hanoverians

I've continued my reading into eighteenth-century Britain with a history of the Hanoverian kings. As my guide, I selected the prodigious Jeremy Black, who's published widely on the period. Black is not, perhaps, my favorite historian, but for an introduction to the monarchs, he's provided a convincing account. Most surprising: when George I ascended the throne following the death of Queen Anne, 54 members of the extended Stuart family boasted better claims than he; and yet, they were Catholic, and the British crown had been limited to Protestant claimants from 1701. Another set of surprises: George I had visited Britain only once before ascending the throne in 1714 and spoke no English. He was raised a Lutheran, but "conformed," in Black's words, to Anglican doctrine. It's incredible, given all this, to imagine just how far afield the Hanoverian princes were before the turn of the eighteenth-century: and yet, they ruled until 1901. Indeed, it's sometimes forgotten that Victoria was the last of the Hanoverian line: William IV, after all, was her uncle. There's much to consider and appreciate about this overlooked period of British history, and I'm pleased to have a learned a bit more about the Hanoverian monarchs than the more familiar account of George III and the loss of the American colonies. Perhaps the nineteenth century next? 

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