Google+ Georgia On My Mind: 13 Things About King George II

Monday, January 6, 2014

13 Things About King George II

The colony of Georgia was named to honor King George II.  This list of 13 things concerning his life is by no means complete, but is a list of things I found to be highlights of interest.

1. Georgia was the thirteenth and final colony set up by Great Britain in 1733. Since it was formed during the reign of King George II it makes sense that the colony was named for him. What a great way to get his attention!
2. King George II wasn’t just the King of Great Britain.  His official title was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover), and Prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire. Brunswick-Lüneburg was a historical ducal state dating to the late Middle Ages and was the principal home for George II and his father before him, George I.

3. As a Prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire, George II was a member of the Electoral College that had the privilege of electing the King of the Romans/Holy Roman Emperor.  When thinking of the Holy Roman Empire, think primarily about Germany and Italy. After existing for hundreds of years the title was phased out in the early 1800s. I could launch off into an exhausting history side-bar here....but I won't, and you're welcome.
4. King George II was the last British monarch to have been born outside Great Britain.  Yes, it seems strange that a German born prince born in the German city of Hanover took the British throne. Basically, it was due to his grandmother, Sophia of Hanover and an act of Parliament. The Act of Settlement in 1701 restricted Catholics from taking the throne throwing Sophia of Hanover several steps up the line of succession and resulting in George II’s father, George I taking the throne in 1714.

5. George II had little power. By 1729, Parliament controlled domestic and foreign policy in Great Britain, but George II still managed to influence affairs. He actually had more power in Hanover, and spent many summers there overseeing things.  You can't blame the guy....
6. George II married Caroline of Ansbach in 1705. He actually visited the Ansbach court under a false identify so he could check Caroline out to make sure she would be a suitable bride. Apparently, she passed muster since they had many children over the years. Still , his high regard for Caroline did not keep George II from having mistresses.

It’s good to be the King, right?
In fact, on her death bed Caroline implored the King to remarry. He told her no, but he would have mistresses. 

Nice, huh?
7. So, what’s a German Prince to do?  It’s not like they can go down to the corner and get a job at the drugstore or something.  While he was a king-in-waiting, George II wanted to lead men in battle and do the whole “play soldier” thing.  His father flatly refused until a son and an heir were produced. After that little assignment was completed the future George II participated in the Battle of Oudenarde in 1708.  Say what you want to about prissy German princes, but he had to have some bravery in him somewhere. His horse was shot out from underneath him and the Colonel riding beside him was killed. It is said that the future king bravely charged ahead of his troops, and in fact, George II is the last British king who led troops into battle.

Once George I was crowned King of Great Britain, the future George II became Prince of Wales. At one point in 1716 his father returned to Hanover to oversee matters of state there. The future George II was given limited powers to govern in his father’s absence.  He went on a tour of country through several towns and the public was “allowed to see him dine at Hampton Court Palace.”
Can you imagine?   People showing up to gawk at you while you eat?

I guess it really is an uneasy head the crown rests on because it was during this time  an attempt was made on his life at Drury Lane Theatre.
8. King George I died in 1727 and King George II finally assumed the throne. To fully cement his place among the British people (since some were still wary of their German kings) the new king decided not to travel to Germany for his father’s funeral.  Folks saw it as a declaration of a firm commitment to Great Britain. While it looked nice in public, more than likely the real reason is through the years father and son had quarreled over matters of state.

9. The charter creating the colony of Georgia was granted to General James Oglethorpe on April 21, 1732. In the beginning Oglethorpe desired a colony that would be a place where debtors could go. You might have even been taught that in school, but while Oglethorpe wanted the colony to be a place where debtors could find refuge and work their debts off free of prison, a debtor’s haven never materialized.
That’s right. The Georgia colony was NOT a haven for British debtors. King George II and his advisors put a stop to that. Each of the 114 original settlers who sailed on the Anne in 1733 was chosen for the skills they could bring to the new colony, and there wasn’t a debtor among them.

Instead, the King and other government officials liked the theory that the newest colony could serve as a buffer zone between South Carolina and lands to the south belonging to Spain.In order to serve as a “garrison province” that would defend the southern colonies from invasion the new colony of Georgia would need to be populated with strong folks willing to work hard. 
In order to make sure the new Georgia citizens were on their toes, Oglethorpe banned alcohol in the new colony as well as slavery. The men sent to the new colony were heavily trained as members of the militia

10. While King George II did everything he could to prove to the British people he was their king, he was also the Duke of Hanover. He returned there in 1736 to oversee things.  After an absence of several months citizens attached a note to the gates of St. James’s Palace stating, “Lost or strayed out of this house, a man who has left a wife and six children on the parish.”  
Well, at least the British had a sense of humor regarding their absent king.

11. Just as King George II couldn’t get along with his father, George I, he also couldn’t get along very well with his son and heir Frederick.  When Frederick, the Prince of Wales applied to Parliament to increase his allowance, it caused a rift between father and son.  Feelings of ill will were so high that when Frederick’s wife was about to give birth to the heir, Frederick bundled her up, thrust her into a carriage and drove off in the middle of the night to keep his parents from being present at the birth. Frederick was banned from court after that.
12. Getting back to the colony of Georgia, ever hear of the War of Jenkin’s Ear?

Britain and Spain went to war in 1739. Over in Europe the fracas became part of the War of the Austrian Succession.  As the British monarch, King George II didn’t have much to say or do with the war, but as the Elector of Hanover he could have a say and intervene directly in European affairs, so he hightailed it to Hanover during the summers of 1740 and 1741 to participate more directly in the war.
As far as the colony of Georgia is concerned, colonists attacked the Spanish city of St. Augustine in 1740 aided by a British naval blockade, but were turned back. The British forces were led by James Oglethorpe. They attempted to take the city of St. Augustine for over a month before retreating. They finally just gave up. The Georgia colonists simply walked away from their artillery.

13. Following the approval of the Colony of Georgia’s charter the council of Trustees governed the colony deciding how subsidies received from Parliament would be allocated.  Running a colony where everyone has different agendas is more difficult that it seems.  Oglethorpe finally returned home for the last time.
On June 23, 1752, the Trustees submitted a deed of reconveyance to the crown and three years later the colony ceased to be a proprietary colony and became a crown colony. It remained that way until the American Revolution.

King George II died in October, 1760 leaving the throne in the hands of his grandson, George.  At the time of his death the king was blind in one eye and could barely hear.  It was determined he died from an aortic aneurysm.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey next to his wife. It’s interesting to note that he had left instructions for his coffin and that of his wife to have the sides removed so that their remains could mix together.

Picture credit: Portrait of George II, 1730 by Enoch Seeman via WIkipedia

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