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House of Hanover
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House of HanoverTHE 18TH CENTURY SAW Britain's first three King Georges: 'German George', 'Soldier George' and 'Farmer George'. Although known as the Age of Reason, this period of history was often both irrational and emotional. The term 'Georgian' - whether applied to architecture, fashion or poetry - might suggest a culture of calm order, but in fact society was a bubbling, unstable mixture stirred by ideas of the day: classical formality, romantic naturalism, rational science and political idealism.

Georgian Britons - at least of the upper classes - were prosperous, sturdily self-sufficient, argumentative and optimistic. They lived through political upheavals and the early phases of farming and industrial revolutions that were to transform their land and their lives.

But there were striking contrasts. Learned societies flourished while schools and universities stagnated. Elegant mansions ornamented the countryside while towns seethed and stank.

The Hanoverian kings -George I to William IV -survived Jacobite rebellions, American and French revolutions, foreign wars and the birth of 'party politics'. It was an age of achievement in many fields - in literature, art and architecture, science and exploration, as well as military success, particularly at sea. Britannia was indeed beginning to rule the waves.

House of Hanover

By the time George IV and his brother William brought the Hanoverian dynasty to a rather ragged end, Britain had risen victorious from a long war with Napoleon's France. The nation was now a world power, proud of its liberties, confident in its wealth, with the foundations laid for overseas empire and industrial dominance. The Hanoverian kings may have been much mocked by cartoonists, but they had reigned over a largely fortunate era.

There are few royal buildings to rival the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, John Nash's extravagant transformation (1815-22) of a Sussex farmhouse into a fantasy of pleasure domes for the Prince Regent, later George IV.

House of Hanover

At the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland army, brave but ill-equipped, was slaughtered by cannon and musket fire from Cumberland's redcoats. The Hanoverian succession was secure.

House of Hanover

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