George II

The son of George I, George II acceded to the throne in 1727. He had frequently fallen out with his father and was worried that he had taken too much of a back seat in running the country. However, on accession, his advisers convinced him of the wisdom of continuity and he allowed Walpole to continue his domination of British politics at least until his fall in 1742.

Although George kept quiet in domestic politics, he did take a more active stance in foreign affairs. He eagerly went to war with Spain in 1737 and became fully involved in the War of Austrian Succession (1742 - 1748). In fact he was to be the last monarch to ride into battle at Dettingen in 1743.

In 1745, George's reign was seriously challenged as the War of Austrian Succession spilled into Britain with the Jacobite Rebellion. Charles Stewart landed with the aid of the French and managed to raise a significant army from the Highlanders and Irish mercenaries. The Jacobite Army built an ill prepared British army at Prestonpans and advanced through England as far south as Derby. George even prepared to evacuate the capital. However, divisions amongst the Jacobites and lack of support from France made the Jacobites turn back to their base of support in Scotland. A fleet took a British Army to Scotland and allowed the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden.

Britain would be dragged into the Seven Years War (1756 - 1763) mainly because of the threat posed to Hanover itself. This could have been a liability, but superior finances and banking allowed the British to take on the more favoured French and consistently defeat them at land and at sea. It also would allow for the first significant expansion of Imperial control - battles with the French in Canada and India and countless smaller outposts would see the British triumphant time and again. The most significant battles were the Battle of Plassey in 1757 which allowed Robert Clive to lay the foundations of British India, and the capture of Quebec by General Wolfe in 1759 which effectively removed the French from North America.

George would die before the end of the Seven Years War and so did not live to see the full victory and profitable balance sheet that would accrue as a result of the war.

George II
1683 in Hanover
1760 at Kensington Palace
Acceded to Throne
Further Reading
George II: King and Elector (English Monarchs Series)
By Andrew C Thompson
Royal Discord: The Family of George II
By Veronica Baker-Smith
The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty
By Jeremy Black
Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court
By Lucy Worsley
Who's Who in Early Hanoverian Britain
By G.R.R. Treasure
David Starkey's Monarchy


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by Stephen Luscombe