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It was so named because England was ruled by King George I, George II and George III
It was the time of great beauty in music, fashion, architecture and art. But it was also a time of great scientific discovery and invention, coupled with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the British way of life.
The commence of Georgian Britain was signified with death of Queen Anne.
She got pregnant many times (17x) but none of her children survived childhood.
She finally died in 1714 without leaving an heir.
The new king was George I who used to live in Germany. When he arrived in Britain, he could not speak English. Even more, he never wanted to learn English during his reign, so he always found difficulties in communication in English.
In the Mediterranean, British troops on the island of Minorca were under siege by the French.
Admiral John Byng was ordered to rescue them. But he failed and finally was sentenced to death and shot.
Britain’s role in the Seven Years War was mainly as a naval power. The British fleet was stationed off the French coast to prevent enemy ships from going in or out of harbour.
The war dragged on. William Pitt was half mad and certain that he was the only person who could save Britain. He became Prime Minister in 1756. One of his aims was to drive the French out of Canada and secure the fishing rights off Newfoundland.
In 1759, an expedition led by General James Wolfe sailed up the St Lawrence River Quebec. His troops could kill more French people but Wolfe was killed in the fighting.
The Seven Years War ended with Treaty of Paris in 1763. Britain received Canada and French possessions in India. French regained the Newfoundland fishing rights, the African trading post at Dakar and the sugar-producing islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Pitt was stressed because he thought that he had given France too much.
Although George II probably did not know it, a young officer who was to cause him a good deal of trouble had been serving with French forces at Dettingen. His name was Charles Edward Stuart, son of the Old Pretender and one day to be so called the Young Pretender (and also ‘Bonny Prince Charlie’).
His father, James, had attempted to gain the throne of Britain in 1715, when the Earl of Mar and a number of Highland chiefs promised him support. But he failed.
Charles was dashing/stylish, handsome and brave. He wanted to make his father get the throne of England. Moreover, he got support from France. However, at last French people lost their interest.
Prince Charlie left France. On 23 July 1745 he landed on the Outer Hebrides; he was only accompanied by seven men.
Prince Charlie was very persuasive. He won a small victory at Prestonpans and crossed the border and wished to reach London. But, he was defeated and finally retreated to Scotland. At last, he was defeated by Duke of Cumberland.
The rebellion which was known as the ‘Forty-five’ was over.
With the price of £30,000 on his head, Charles Stuart escaped and was eventually taken back to France by a French vessel.
The Duke of Cumberland lived up to his nick-name of ‘the Butcher’. The wounded and prisoners were massacred.
Afterwards, the homes of Highlanders were burned down, their cattle driven away and many of their leaders executed.
Some others were making discoveries and inventions, e.g.: Joseph Priestley found out how to isolate oxygen, Henry Cavendish managed to separate hydrogen from water and used it for experimental balloons.
Benjamin Franklin lightning conductor equipped the Buckingham Palace during the reign of George III.
In 1604 the first English dictionary was printed.
In 1727, Nathaniel Bailey published another edition of his Complete English Dictionary.
In 755 Dr. Samuel Johnson (a poet/ writer) published A Dictionary of the English Language. His effort has helped standardizing the spelling of English language today.
The population in Britain in the 18 th century was about 7 million.
Many things had happened since 1620 when the Pilgrim Fathers stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock.
Although London was 3,000 miles away across the Atlantic, the American colonies had to pay taxes to the British government. Goods to and from the colonies had to be carried in British ships, and all American exporters –no matter where they might be going– had to pass through England.
Unsurprisingly, the settlers were objected to this.
In 1770 there were riots in Boston.
Consequently the British government cancelled all taxes except the duty on tea.
In 1784, the son of William Pitt (now Earl of Chatham) became Prime Minister at the age of 24.
The younger Pitt was strong, wise and ready to accept new ideas.
King George III was going mad. He mistook an oak tree in Windsor Park for the King o Prusia.
King of France, Louis XVI, was an absolute monarch. Seeing the rebellion such as in America, France finally decided to have one colony only.
On 14 July, 1789, mobs broke into the Bastille prison in Paris; released the inmates and helped themselves to supply of arms. Led by fanatics, the new regime declared the country a republic and condemned anyone who opposed it to die on the guillotine.
In 1793, the King and his wife Marie Antoinette were both beheaded.
That was not the end of bloodshed in France. The new government declared war on England.
British troops were defeated in Holland.
Even worse to come. In 1796, a former corporal in the French army named Napoleon Bonaparte took charge. By allying himself with Spain and occupying Italy, he forced the British out of the Mediterranean.
In Britain things were bad. There were mutinies in the navy. Harvests failed so it created great hardship.
However, the misfortune suddenly turned. On 14 February 1979, a force of British ships led by Admiral John Jervis smashed the Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent. The hero was a young captain named Horatio Nelson.
Because of his courage and achievement he was trusted to break back into the Mediterranean. In 1798 he came across the French ships that had carried Napoleon’s troops into Egypt. His guns opened fire and the French was defeated. It was known as the Battle of the Nile.
Some people were angered by the invention on machineries that put people out of work (replaced human’s labour). E.g.: Ned Lud Luddites
The luddites were active in 1816. Other riots emerged, such as in Spa Fields, London in 1817. Workers from Manchester marched towards London. They were clad in blankets –therefore their name was ‘Blanketeers’
The most tragic event took place in 1819 when Manchester factory workers gathered in St Peter’s Field to hear an orator named Henry Hunt. In the event, eleven people were killed and hundreds were injured.
Afterwards, Six-Acts were passed by Parliament.
- Seditious meetings should be dispersed
- Any publication that could be used for propaganda against the
government was taxed
- Justice had to be administered promptly
- Civilians weren’t allowed to be trained in the use of arms
- Justices of Peace were authorized to seize arms in counties where