Georgians Revealed Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain

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Explore the key dates and events in the Georgian period, taken from our Georgians Revealed: Life, Style and the Making of Modern Britain exhibition

George I: 1714 – 1727

George I
Studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
King George 1 (1660–1727)
c.1714, oil on canvas
Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

The king is depicted when he succeeded Queen Anne in 1714: as great-grandson to King James I and a Protestant, he was designated heir. George I arrived without a queen, his wife Sophia Dorothea of Celle having been imprisoned for adultery some years before. An experienced ruler and distinguished soldier, he was also a music lover, noted for his patronage of Handel.

  • 1715 Jacobite Rebellion: defeat of James Francis Edward Stuart (‘The Old Pretender’)
  • 1720 South Sea Bubble: first major stock market crash in London
  • 1721 Sir Robert Walpole: first Prime Minister

George II: 1727 – 1760

George II
By or after Thomas Worlidge
King George II (1683–1760)
c.1753, oil on canvas
Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

George II succeeded his father George I in 1727. He too had military experience and was the last British king to lead his troops into battle. Unlike his father, George II and his wife Caroline of Ansbach spoke good English and enjoyed society. They shared a love of opera and theatre. This portrait shows him towards the end of his reign.

  • 1736Gin Act increases duty on spirits provoking riots
  • 1745 Jacobite Rebellion: defeat of ‘The Young Pretender’, Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’)
  • 1757 Colonel Robert Clive wins the Battle of Plassey: East India Company rules Bengal

George III: 1760 – 1820

George III
Studio of Sir William Beechey
King George III (1738–1820),
c.1800, oil on canvas
Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

George III succeeded his grandfather George II in 1760. A patron of the arts and sciences, the king formed great collections of books, maps and music, all of which are on display at the British Library. This portrait shows him in middle age, when he was suffering increasing bouts of insanity, now thought to be caused by the blood disease porphyria. He and his queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, had 16 children and enjoyed a secluded domestic life.

  • 1763 Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War: Britain poised to become a world power
  • 1776 American Declaration of Independence: Britain subsequently loses America
  • 1789–1815 French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
  • 1805 Battle of Trafalgar and death of Admiral Lord Nelson: British sea power is pre-eminent
  • 1807 Abolition of the slave trade

George IV: 1820 – 1830

Geroge IV
John Hoppner
King George IV (1762–1830), as Prince of Wales
c.1792, oil on canvas
Image credit: National Trust (Fenton House)

George IV succeeded his father George III in 1820, after nine years as Prince Regent. Passionate about fashion and the arts, his extravagant lifestyle left him with enormous debts and attracted widespread disapproval. Following a secret and illegal marriage to the Catholic Maria Fitzherbert, he married Caroline of Brunswick in 1795. The marriage was a disaster, and although they were not able to divorce, the couple soon separated.

  • 1825 Bank failures and a stock market crash take Britain close to insolvency
  • 1825 Stockton & Darlington Railway opens and begins a new era of transport

Visit our Georgians Revealed exhibition and learn more about life in the Georgian era