List of entries |  Feedback 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
George I

Elector of Hanover from 1692 and king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714, as the first monarch of the house of *Hanover; eldest son of Ernest Augustus of Hanover and of Sophia, daughter of the *Winter Queen; married Sophia Dorothea of Celle (1682).

His claim to the British throne came through his mother, a granddaughter of *James I (see the *royal house), and it was confirmed by the Act of *Settlement. George was a long-established and successful German monarch, with a particular skill in military matters, when he inherited the British crown at the age of 54. He took a more positive role in British affairs than has often been suggested, but he was always seen in Britain as a foreigner – a condition emphasized by his failure to learn fluent English.

The new king's private life also made him unpopular. He had divorced his wife in 1694 and was known to be keeping her a prisoner in the castle of Ahlden; he suspected her of infidelity with the Graf von Königsmark, whose unexplained assassination added a sinister twist to the tale. To add to this, George arrived in Britain with his two favourite German mistresses. They were hated alike for their ugliness and for the greed with which they profited from power; the thin one, created duchess of Kendal, was known as the Maypole, while the plumper countess of Darlington became the Elephant.

Another strand in this unfortunate family scene was the hatred between George and his son, the future *George II. It dominated British politics, with an opposition to the king's chosen ministers forming around the prince of Wales (a pattern repeated in the next two reigns). It was largely to avoid meeting the prince, after a major quarrel between them in 1717, that George I gave up attending *cabinet meetings.

Dislike of the new regime was not sufficient for the *'15 Rebellion to find much support, but the scandal of the *South Sea Bubble added further opprobrium in 1720 (the king was closely involved, and the German mistresses made large sums before the crash). However, by the end of the reign the prime minister, *Walpole, had achieved sufficient stability for George II to inherit the throne without disturbance. Traditional charges against George I have included philistinism (with the reported remark 'I hate all boets and bainters'), but he was a lover of music.

A  B-BL  BO-BX  C-CH  CI-CX  D  E  F  G  H  IJK  L  M  NO  P  QR  S-SL  SM-SX  T  UV  WXYZ