Most people have heard of George II; but does anybody actually know anything about him? I’m not sure I did before I started looking into his life for the purposes of this post. So why do so few people know even the main facts about his life? Here I will try to make a clear a few things about George II, and hopefully, make this lesser known monarch, more prominent in people’s knowledge.
George II was born George Augustus on 10th November 1683 and was the son of King George I. He became King in June 1727. He was the King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Linsberg (Hanover), and arch treasurer and prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire – giving him lots of titles! He was in fact the last British monarch to be born and raised outside of the United Kingdom, and the last to actually fight in a battle (Battle of Dettingen in 1743). Having been raised in Germany for the beginning of his life; he learned French, English, German and Italian and studied military history and battle tactics (despite being banned from fighting in battle by his father until he had produced a male heir). George married Caroline of Ansbach and had nine children in total. His oldest son Frederick died before his father which meant the throne passed to George III.
Yet for the beginning of his reign he was reasonably unpopular. The Jacobites were still challenging the Hanoverian monarchy over succession and, in 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, landed in Scotland and tried to regain the throne and raise a rebellion force against the monarch. Interestingly, this rebellion created a rise in the popularity of the English National Anthem that we still use today. The song became particularly prominent amongst Hanoverian Loyalists who defended and fought for George II. George and the Loyalists did beat this rebellion and Charles was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, which meant the end of the Jacobite threat and therefore increasing popularity for George.
Another reason for George’s increasing popularity was the expansion of the empire. Important advances were made in Indian and in Quebec which meant the advance of important trade routes and more imported goods. This gained him respect for making Great Britain a bigger world power. Yet despite these advances internationally, he actually had little control over British domestic policy as British Prime Ministers such as Robert Walpole, Lord Wilmington, Henry Pelham, Duke of Newcastle and Duke of Devonshire, tended to take greater control over more national affairs.
Some people have argued that the period where George II ruled was the basis of the industrial revolution as new industries developed such as coal, ship building and agriculture. There was also a rapid rise in the population. George II’s reign arguably provided a basis for things such as the industrial revolution to be possible in later generations during the reign of Victoria.
George died in October 1760 at the age of 77 (older than most of his English predecessors!). George III, George II’s grandson therefore became the new king because George had no other male heir.
There are many other things that could be said about George II’s reign, such as information about the seven years’ war. Yet, this topic is one that needs greater research and time. At least here I hope I have provided an outline of a lesser known English monarch so that George II will not be forgotten.