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141902Re: [Revlist] New Book

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  • robertaselig@juno.com
    Jul 28, 2014
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      Salut -

      talking about loyalism to the crown: 300 years ago this 1 August, the House of Hanover acceded to the throne of Great Britain. In mid-October 1682,Duchess Sophia of the Palatinate (1630-1714)wrote these lines to her niece Elizabeth Charlotte, the duchess d�Orleans (1652-1722): �[M]y son George Ludwig [is] the most pigheaded, stubborn boy who ever lived, and who has round his brains such a thick crust that I defy any man or woman ever to discover what is in them.� �Pig-headed and stubborn� or not, however, Sophia was on her way home to Hanover from a visit in Celle where the marriage between her niece Sophia Dorothea of Celle (1666-1726) and Georg Ludwig (1660-1727) had just been arranged. Though the 16-year-old bride was vigorously opposed to marrying her cousin, screaming that she was �not going to marry the pig-snout�, the decision was not hers to make.

      Needless to say, the marriage concluded on 22 November 1682, was an unhappy one, and while Sophia Dorothea spent 33 of the 60 years of her life a virtual prisoner in the castle at Ahlden, her husband ended his days as �George, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick-L�neburg, Arch-Treasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc." And though �pig-snout� is not among his official titles, the image of the first ruler of the House of Hanover on the British throne as a crude, stubborn and slow German, buttressed by the experiences of two World Wars, has stuck with King George, historical evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Who was this man who was crowned King of England 300 years ago on 1/12 August 1714, the man whose descendants would rule the largest Empire the world has ever seen and who would sit on the throne of Great Britain for almost two centuries? And how did he end up being crowned King of England on 20/31 October 1714 in Westminster Abbey amidst anti - coronation riots in two dozen cities across southern and western England?

      Born on 28 May 1660 in Hanover, Georg Ludwig was the eldest son of Ernest Augustus, duke of Brunswick-L�neburg (1629-1698) and his wife Sophia of the Palatinate. Sophia was the daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine (1596-1632) and Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), the second child and eldest daughter of James VI (1566-1625), King of the Scots following the forced abdication of his mother Mary (1542-1587) in 1567, and as James I King of England and Ireland since 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). In 1625, Elizabeth Stuart�s younger brother Charles (1600-1649) was crowned king only to be executed in January 1649. Following the interregnum under Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and his son Richard (1626-1712), Charles� son was restored to the throne as Charles II (1630-1685) in 1660. Since Charles II did not have any legitimate heirs he was succeeded by his younger brother James II as King of England and Ireland (1633- 1701; as James VII King of Scotland) in February 1685.

      James would be the last Catholic monarch to rule over the mostly Anglican England, predominantly Presbyterian Scotland and largely Catholic Ireland. His policies of religious toleration did not sit well with Parliament and when his wife Mary of Modena (1658-1718) gave birth to a son and heir named James Francis Edward on 10/21 June 1688 (the �Old Pretender�; he died on 1 January 1766), the prospect of a restoration of Catholicism in England sent shock-waves across the kingdom. In the line of inheritance the new-born prince moved ahead of his step-sisters Mary (1662-1694), the wife of William of Orange (1650-1702) and her younger sister Anne (1665-1714), James� daughters from his first marriage to Anne Hyde (1637-1671). Enter William of Orange, who upon the invitation of parliament invaded England on 5/16 November 1688. William�s largest assets were his wife Mary, their Protestant faiths and a small army. James� regime promptly collapsed and by the end of the year he had fled to France never to return. In February 1688/9, the so-called �Convention Parliament� chose William and Mary as co-regents under condition they sign a �Declaration of [Parliamentary] Rights� which in December 1689 provided the foundation for the �Bill of Rights�. Its most important provision (for the purposes of our story) is that it barred Roman Catholics from acceding to the throne as "it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist prince".

      After at least four miscarriages William and Mary�s marriage remained childless, and when Mary died in 1694, her sister Anne became next in line to the throne. In the summer of 1683, Anne, who like Mary had been raised Protestant, married George of Denmark (1653-1708), yet the union failed to produce an heir as 12 of her 17 pregnancies between May 1684 and January 1700/01 ended in stillbirths or miscarriages. Four of her five live-born children died before they reached the age of two, and when their only surviving child, 11-year-old Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, died on 30 July/10 August 1700, William of Orange and Parliament realized that they had to look elsewhere to ensure the continuation of a Protestant line on the throne. In his opening speech to the Commons on Wednesday, 12/22 February 1700/1701, the king referred to the �great misfortune in the loss of the duke of Gloucester [which] hath made it absolutely necessary that there should be a further provision for the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant line, after me and the princess�, i.e. Princess Anne. On 3/13 March began the debate on the King�s request; the bill �to establish the Succession to the Crown in the Protestant Line� passed on 12/22 March 1700. Once William had given his royal assent to the legislation on 12/23 June 1701, Sophia of Hanover and �the heirs of her body being Protestants� were next in line to succeed to the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland. At the close of Parliament on 24 June/5 July 1701, Speaker Robert Harley (1661-1724), soon to become 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, informed William of Orange �with great joy and satisfaction� that the House of Commons �have passed the Bill of Succession, which hath settled the Crown in a Protestant Line, and continued the liberty of England, which your majesty hath restored and preserved.� Since they were Catholic but refused to convert to gain the crown, over 50 men and women more closely related to Anne, the only individual left in the line of succession established in the Bill of Rights, had been excluded from the succession. The stipulation in the 1701 Act of Settlement that the monarch as �Defender of the Faith� and Head of the Church of England "shall join in communion with the Church of England" was conveniently ignored. Once King of Great Britain George I. nevertheless remained a Lutheran, brought his German chaplain to London, and conformed to the ritual of the Church of England when necessary only.

      As he slowly but inexorably moved closer to the British throne, Georg Ludwig�s lucky streak continued within the Holy Roman Empire as well. Though a fourth son, his father Ernest August (1629-1698), Duke of Brunswick-L�neburg, had the good fortune of not only inheriting some of his father�s territories in 1679 but also the lands of two of his older brothers upon their death without male heirs in 1665 and 1679. Instituting the law of primogeniture for his duchy in 1682/3 ensured that Georg Ludwig would inherit not only all of his lands undivided but also the dignity of Prince-Elector, which Ernest August would receive provisionally in 1692 upon inheritance of the Palatinate by a Catholic member of the House of Wittelsbach. (The Imperial Diet confirmed this transfer in 1708). That left George William (1624-1705), who had promised to remain single if he did not have to marry Sophia of the Palatinate � who instead went to Ernest August. Not finding the single life to his liking, George William in 1665 entered into a morganatic marriage with his mistress from which in 1666 sprang Sophia Dorothea, who in turn, as we have seen, was married to Georg Ludwig in 1682. When Ernest August died in 1698, his son Georg Ludwig reaped the fruits of a decades of determined, purposeful and ultimately successful policies which, coupled with a sizeable dose of good luck, had elevated the Duke of Brunswick-L�neburg within a single generation into the political elite of the Holy Roman Empire.

      Following William of Orange�s demise in March 1702, Anne became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union of May 1707, which had united England and Scotland into a single political unit and assured Scottish acceptance of the 1701 Act of Settlement. Determined to see her son on the throne of England, Sophia, already 71 years old when the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701, only had to remove one last potential obstacle. Neither she nor her son had been born in England and her status as a British subject could thus possibly be challenged. The �Act for the Naturalization of the Most Excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and Duchess Dowager of Hanover, and the Issue of her Body� of 1705 removed that obstacle as well, and once Georg Ludwig had arranged for Regency Council to supervise the transfer of power either to himself or his mother, all he had to do was wait for Queen Anne to die.

      Sophia would see her son on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland: 83 years old she died on 28 May/8 June 1714. Though only 49 years old, Queen Anne suffered a stroke shortly thereafter and died on 1/12 August 1714. Upon hearing the news the Regency Council was sworn in and duly proclaimed George I King of Great Britain and Ireland. The new king set out for London immediately but contrary winds delayed his arrival in England until late September. On 20 October/1 November he was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Had the �pig-snout� become king?

      Few historians would deny that George could be cruel and even revengeful in his private life. Following the birth of his son in 1683, the relationship with his 17-year-old wife cooled considerably, and though a daughter was born to the couple in 1687, Georg Ludwig was now preferring the company of his mistress Melusine von der Schulenburg to that of his wife. Melusine bore two daughters in 1692 and 1693, yet when Sophia took herself a lover himself, court rumors held that Count Philip von K�nigsmarck was murdered in 1694 with George�s connivance and knowledge. 27-year-old Sophia Dorothea lived out her life in virtual imprisonment in the castle in Ahlden in Celle where she died 33 years later in 1726, cursing George from her deathbed. At the same time he had had shown himself a skilful diplomat and tactician in his dealings with the Commons preparing for his succession. As king he focused his interests on foreign policy, skilfully navigating his realm through the vagaries of the War of the Quadruple Alliance and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1719 as well as the Great Northern War.

      At home King George I, who did not feel comfortable appearing in public, was never popular. Described as �wooden� and dull, partly because he spoke little English when he came to the throne and always spoke with a heavy German accent, he could be entertaining in private conversation and was near fluent in English toward the end of his reign. The �South Sea Bubble� of 1720 damaged his reputation as well though he was not one of the instigators of the scheme and surviving documents show that he too lost money. The public disapproved of his treatment of Sophia Dorothea yet the claim that he had succession of German mistresses is patently untrue. The best many of his subjects led by Lady Mary Wortley Montague could say of him that if he was too much of a �dull German� at least he was not a Catholic Stuart. Keeping a Catholic Pretender from the throne had been the primary reason for his selection, and when he died on 11/22 June 1727 during a visit to his native Hanover, he had served his purpose well. Initially buried in the chapel in the castle in Leine his remains were transferred to the chapel of Herrenhausen after World War II.

      A Note on Dates:
      By 1700, most of Continental Europe with the notable exception of Russia was following the Gregorian or �New Style� Calendar (after Pope Gregory XIII) which had come into force initially in Catholic states only when Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by Friday, 15 October 1582 and 1 January as the beginning of the New Year rather than the Julian or �Old Style� Calendar (after Julius Caesar). Hanover/Brunswick had adopted the New Style on 19 February 1700 (Old Style), skipping the rest of the month and continuing with 1 March 1701 (New Style), thus avoiding the added confusion of the year 1700 being a leap-year in the Julian calendar but not in the Gregorian calendar. Britain and her overseas possessions, which after 1 March 1700 (O.S.) was 11 days behind most of the Continent rather than 10 days, continued to use the Julian Calendar with 25 March O.S. (= 6 April N.S.) as the first day of the New Year until 1751, which ended after a short 282 days on 31 December 1751. The year 1752, which began on 1 January, was however also 11 days shorter since in order to align the Julian with the Gregorian Calendar, Wednesday, 2 September was followed by Thursday, 14 September 1752. Ever tradition-bound, however, 6 April is still the first day of the fiscal year in Great Britain.

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      From: "mass1775@... [Revlist]" <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
      To: <Revlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [Revlist] New Book
      Date: 27 Jul 2014 18:04:10 -0700

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