The Info List - Georgian Era

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The GEORGIAN ERA of British history is a period which takes its name from, and is normally defined as spanning the reigns of the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland and after of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland who were all named George: George I , George II , George III and George IV . The era covers the period from 1714 to 1830, with the sub-period of the Regency defined by the Regency of George IV as Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
during the illness of his father George III. The definition of the Georgian era
Georgian era
is often extended to include the short reign of William IV , which ended with his death in 1837.

The term _Georgian_ is typically used in the contexts of social history and architecture .


* 1 Arts

* 2 Social change

* 2.1 Evangelical religion and social reform

* 3 Empire

* 3.1 The trading nation

* 4 Politics and social revolt * 5 Timeline * 6 See also

* 7 Further reading

* 7.1 Historiography

* 8 References * 9 External links


Georgian society and its preoccupations were well portrayed in the novels of writers such as Henry Fielding , Mary Shelley and Jane Austen , characterised by the architecture of Robert Adam
Robert Adam
, John Nash and James Wyatt and the emergence of the Gothic Revival style, which hearkened back to a supposed golden age of building design.

The flowering of the arts was most vividly shown in the emergence of the Romantic poets , principally through Samuel Taylor Coleridge , William Wordsworth , Percy Bysshe Shelley , William Blake
William Blake
, John Keats , Lord Byron and Robert Burns
Robert Burns
. Their work ushered in a new era of poetry, characterised by vivid and colourful language, evocative of elevating ideas and themes.

The paintings of Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough
, Sir Joshua Reynolds
Joshua Reynolds
and the young J. M. W. Turner and John Constable
John Constable
illustrated the changing world of the Georgian period – as did the work of designers like Capability Brown , the landscape designer .

Fine examples of distinctive Georgian architecture are Edinburgh's New Town , Georgian Dublin , Grainger Town in Newcastle Upon Tyne
Newcastle Upon Tyne
, The Georgian Quarter of Liverpool
and much of Bristol and Bath .


It was a time of immense social change in Britain, with the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution which began the process of intensifying class divisions , and the emergence of rival political parties like the Whigs and Tories .

In rural areas the Agricultural Revolution saw huge changes to the movement of people and the decline of small communities, the growth of the cities and the beginnings of an integrated transportation system but, nevertheless, as rural towns and villages declined and work became scarce there was a huge increase in emigration to Canada
, the North American colonies (which became the United States
United States
during the period) and other parts of the British Empire
British Empire


The evangelical movement inside and outside the Church of England gained strength in the late 18th and early 19th century. The movement challenged the traditional religious sensibility that emphasized a code of honor for the upper-class, and suitable behaviour for everyone else, together with faithful observances of rituals. John Wesley (1703–1791) and his followers preached revivalist religion, trying to convert individuals to a personal relationship with Christ through Bible reading, regular prayer, and especially the revival experience. Wesley himself preached 52,000 times, calling on men and women to "redeem the time" and save their souls. Wesley always operated inside the Church of England, but at his death, it set up outside institutions that became the Methodist Church . It stood alongside the traditional nonconformist churches, Presbyterians, Congregationalist, Baptists, Unitarians and Quakers. The nonconformist churches, however, were less influenced by revivalism.

The Church of England remained dominant, but it had a growing evangelical, revivalist faction the "Low Church". Its leaders included William Wilberforce and Hannah More . It reached the upper class through the Clapham Sect . It did not seek political reform, but rather the opportunity to save souls through political action by freeing slaves, abolishing the duel, prohibiting cruelty to children and animals, stopping gambling, avoiding frivolity on the Sabbath; they read the Bible every day. All souls were equal in God's view, but not all bodies, so evangelicals did not challenge the hierarchical structure of English society.


The Georgian period saw continual warfare, including the Seven Years\' War , known in America as the French and Indian War (1756–63), the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802), the Irish Rebellion of 1798 , and the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15). The British won all the wars except for the American Revolution, where the combined weight of the United States, France, Spain and the Netherlands overwhelmed Britain, which stood alone without allies.

The loss of some of the American Colonies in the American War of Independence was regarded as a national disaster and was seen by some foreign observers as heralding the end of Britain as a great power . In Europe, the wars with France dragged on for nearly a quarter of a century, 1793–1815. Victory over Napoleon
at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
(1815) under Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington brought a sense of triumphalism and political reaction.

The expansion of empire brought fame to statesmen and explorers such as Clive of India and Captain Cook , and sowed the seeds of the worldwide British Empire
British Empire
of the Victorian and Edwardian eras which were to follow.


The era was prosperous as entrepreneurs extended the range of their business around the globe. By the 1720s Britain was one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and Daniel Defoe boasted: we are the most "diligent nation in the world. Vast trade, rich manufactures, mighty wealth, universal correspondence, and happy success have been constant companions of England, and given us the title of an industrious people."

While the other major powers were primarily motivated toward territorial gains, and protection of their dynasties (such as the Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties, and the House of Hohenzollern ), Britain had a different set of primary interests. Its main diplomatic goal (besides protecting the homeland from invasion) was building a worldwide trading network for its merchants, manufacturers, shippers and financiers. This required a hegemonic Royal Navy
Royal Navy
so powerful that no rival could sweep its ships from the world's trading routes, or invade the British Isles. The London
government enhanced the private sector by incorporating numerous privately financed London-based companies for establishing trading posts and opening import-export businesses across the world. Each was given a monopoly of trade to the specified geographical region. The first enterprise was the Muscovy Company set up in 1555 to trade with Russia. Other prominent enterprises included he East India Company
East India Company
, and the Hudson\'s Bay Company in Canada. The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa had been set up in 1662 to trade in gold, ivory and slaves in Africa; it was reestablished as the Royal African Company in 1672 and focused on the slave trade. British involvement in the each of the four major wars, 1740 to 1783, paid off handsomely in terms of trade. Even the loss of the 13 colonies was made up by a very favorable trading relationship with the new United States
United States
of America. British gained dominance in the trade with India, and largely dominated the highly lucrative slave, sugar, and commercial trades originating in West Africa and the West Indies. China would be next on the agenda. Other powers set up similar monopolies on a much smaller scale; only the Netherlands emphasized trade as much as England.

Mercantilism was the basic policy imposed by Britain on its colonies. Mercantilism meant that the government and the merchants became partners with the goal of increasing political power and private wealth, to the exclusion of other empires. The government protected its merchants—and kept others out—by trade barriers, regulations, and subsidies to domestic industries in order to maximise exports from and minimise imports to the realm. The government had to fight smuggling, which became a favourite American technique in the 18th century to circumvent the restrictions on trading with the French, Spanish or Dutch. The goal of mercantilism was to run trade surpluses, so that gold and silver would pour into London. The government took its share through duties and taxes, with the remainder going to merchants in Britain. The government spent much of its revenue on a large and powerful Royal Navy, which not only protected the British colonies but threatened the colonies of the other empires, and sometimes seized them. The colonies were captive markets for British industry, and the goal was to enrich the mother country.

Most of the companies earned good profits, and enormous personal fortunes were created in India, but there was one major fiasco that caused heavy losses. The South Sea Bubble
South Sea Bubble
was a business enterprise that exploded in scandal. The South Sea Company was a private business corporation supposedly set up much like the other trading companies, with a focus on South America. Its actual purpose was to renegotiate previous high-interest government loans amounting to ₤31 million through market manipulation and speculation. It issued stock four times in 1720 that reached about 8,000 investors. Prices kept soaring every day, from ₤130 a share to ₤1,000, with insiders making huge paper profits. The Bubble collapsed overnight, ruining many speculators. Investigations showed bribes had reached into high places—even to the king. The prime minister Robert Walpole managed to wind it down with minimal political and economic damage, although some losers fled to exile or committed suicide.


With the ending of the War with France , Great Britain
Great Britain
entered a period of greater economic depression and political uncertainty, characterised by social discontent and unrest. The Radical political party published a leaflet called _The Political Register_, also known as "The Two Penny Trash" to its rivals. The so-called March of the Blanketeers saw 400 spinners and weavers march from Manchester
to London
in March 1817 to hand the Government a petition. The Luddites destroyed and damaged machinery in the industrial north-west of England. The Peterloo Massacre
Peterloo Massacre
in 1819 began as a protest rally which saw 60,000 people gathering to protest about their living standards, but was quelled by military action and saw eleven people killed and 400 wounded. The Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820 sought to blow up the Cabinet and then move on to storm the Tower of London
and overthrow the government. This too was thwarted, with the conspirators executed or transported to Australia


1714 Upon the death of his second cousin QUEEN ANNE , _George Louis, Elector of Hannover_ succeeds as the new King, GEORGE I , of Great Britain and Ireland , the former of which had itself been established in 1706. This is the beginning of the House of Hanover 's reign over the British Crown . 1715 The Whig Party wins the British Parliamentary Election for the House of Commons . This was the party that was in general opposition of the policies of the King. 1727 GEORGE I dies on 11 June. His son _George, Prince of Wales_ ascends to the throne as GEORGE II 1746 The final Jacobite rising
Jacobite rising
is crushed at the Battle of Culloden . 1760 GEORGE II dies on 25 October, and his grandson _George, Prince of Wales_ ascends to the throne as GEORGE III , since his father, Frederick, Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
, had died on 31 March 1751. 1763 Britain is victorious in the Seven Years War . The Treaty of Paris of 1763 grants Britain domain over vast new territories around the world. 1765 The Stamp Act is passed by the Parliament of Great Britain , causing much unrest in the Thirteen Colonies in North America
North America
. 1769–1770 Australia
and New Zealand are claimed as British colonies. 1775 The War of Independence begins in the Thirteen Colonies, specifically in Massachusetts
. 1776 The Thirteen Colonies in North America
North America
declare their independence from the British Crown and British Parliament. 1781 The British Army
British Army
in America under Lord Cornwallis
Lord Cornwallis
surrenders to George Washington
George Washington
after its defeat in Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781. 1783 Great Britain formally recognises the independence of the original 13 American States when the Treaty of Paris of 1783 is signed by David Hartley , representing George III , and by the American treaty delegation. 1788 Australia
is settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales
New South Wales
from 26 January. 1801 The Act of Union 1800 comes into effect on 1 January, uniting the Kingdoms of Great Britain
Great Britain
and of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 1811 _George, Prince of Wales_ begins his nine-year period as the regent (he became known as _George, Prince Regent _) for George III, who has become delusional. This sub-period of the Georgian Era is defined as the regency period . 1815 Napoleon
I of France is defeated by the Seventh Coalition under The Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo , in what is now Wallonia , Belgium
. 1819 The Peterloo Massacre occurs. 1820 GEORGE III dies on 29 January, and his son _George, Prince Regent_ ascends to the throne of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland as GEORGE IV . 1830 GEORGE IV dies on 26 June. According to some authorities, this is the end of the Georgian era of the House of Hanover. However, many other authorities continue this era during the relatively short reign of his younger brother, _The Prince William, Duke of Clarence_, who became WILLIAM IV . 1833 Slavery Abolition Act passed by Parliament through the influence of William Wilberforce and the Evangelical movement, thus criminalising slavery within the British Empire. 1837 WILLIAM IV dies on 20 June, ending the Georgian Era. In the United Kingdom, he was succeeded by his niece, QUEEN VICTORIA , the last member of the House of Hanover. She married Prince Albert , who was of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha , and so, when their son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
succeeded as EDWARD VII , that House gained the British throne. In the Kingdom of Hanover, he is succeeded by his younger brother, Ernest Augustus I . George I George II George III George IV William IV


* International relations 1648-1814 * Kingdom of Great Britain * Early modern Britain * Historiography of the United Kingdom


* Andress, David. _The savage storm: Britain on the brink in the age of Napoleon_ (2012). * Armstrong, Anthony. _The Church of England: the Methodists and society, 1700–1850_ (1973). * Bates, Stephen. _Year of Waterloo: Britain in 1815_ (2015). * Black, Jeremy. "Georges I & II: Limited monarchs." _History Today_ 53.2 (2003): 11+ * Black, Jeremy. _The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty_ (2004), 288 pp. * Boyd, Hilton. _A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783–1846_ (2008) 783pp * Briggs, Asa. _The making of modern England, 1783–1867: The age of the improvement_ (1959) * Elton, G.R. _Modern Historians on British History 1485-1945: A Critical Bibliography 1945-1969_ (1969), annotated guide to 1000 history books on every major topic, plus book reviews and major scholarly articles. online * Evans, E.J. _Britain before the Reform Act: politics and society 1815–1832_ (1989) * Fraser, Flora. _Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III_. Knopf, 2005. * Gould, Eliga H. "American independence and Britain's counter-revolution," _Past E. L. _The Age of Reform, 1815–1870,_ (1938) online edition


* Bultmann, William A. "Early Hanoverian England
(1714–1760): Some Recent Writings," in Elizabeth Chapin Furber, ed. _Changing views on British history: essays on historical writing since 1939_ (Harvard University Press, 1966), pp 181–205 * O’Gorman, Frank. “The Recent Historiography of the Hanoverian Regime.” _Historical Journal_ 29#4 (1986): 1005-1020. * Snyder, Henry L. "Early Georgian England," in Richard Schlatter, ed., _Recent Views on British History: Essays on Historical Writing since 1966_ (Rutgers UP, 1984), pp 167 – 196, historiography

_Note: In the twentieth century, the period 1910–1936 was informally called the Georgian Era during the reign of George V (following the Edwardian Era ), and is sometimes still referred to as such.; see Georgian Poetry ._


* ^ Anthony Armstrong, _The Church of England: the Methodists and society, 1700–1850_ (1973). * ^ Asa Briggs, _The age of improvement, 1783–1867_ (1959), pp 66–73. * ^ John Rule, _Albion's People: English Society 1714–1815_ (1992) ch 2–6 * ^ Jeremy Black, _Crisis of Empire: Britain and America in the Eighteenth Century_ (2010) * ^ Eliga H. Gould, "American independence and Britain's counter-revolution," _Past ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

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