- Georgian era
The Georgian era is a period of
British history, normally defined as including the reigns of the kings George I, George II, George III and George IV, i.e. covering the period from 1714to 1830, (with the sub-period of the Regency, defined by the Regency of George IV as Prince of Walesduring the illness of his father George III). Sometimes the reign of William IV ( 1830to 1837) is also included.
The term "Georgian" is normally used in the contexts of architecture and social history.
Especially during the mid-18th century, the period was marked by cultural vibrancy, with the establishment of the
British Museumin 1753, and the contributions of such famous men as Dr. Samuel Johnson, William Hogarth, Samuel Richardson, and George Friedrich Handel, among many others.
Georgian society and its preoccupations were well portrayed in the novels of writers such as
Henry Fieldingand Jane Austen, characterised by the architecture of Robert Adam, John Nashand James Wyattand the emergence of the Gothic Revivalstyle, which hearkened back to a supposed golden ageof 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, John Keatsand Lord Byron. Their work ushered in a new era of poetry, characterized by vivid and colourful language, evocative of elevating ideas and themes.
The paintings of
Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynoldsand the young J.M.W. Turnerand John Constableillustrated the changing world of the Georgian period - as did the work of designers like Capability Brown, the landscape designer.
It was a time of immense social change in Britain, with the beginning and other parts of the
British Empire. Social reformunder politicians such as Robert Peeland campaigners like William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarksonand members of the Clapham Sectbegan to bring about radical change in areas such as the abolition of slavery, prison reformand social justice. A revival in Christian religionwas seen in the Church of Englandwith men such as John Wesley(later to found the Methodists) and John Newton, and the rise of Non-conformistssuch as George Whitefieldand various Dissenting groups.
Philanthropists and writers such as
Hannah More, Thomas Coram, Robert Raikesand Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, began to address the social ills of the day, and saw the founding of hospitals, Sunday schoolsand orphanages.
The loss of the
American Coloniesand the American Revolutionwere regarded as national disasters. In Europe, the Napoleonic Warsdragged on for nearly a quarter of a century, bringing statesmen and national heroes like the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelsonhome to huge public acclaim.
The expansion of empire brought fame to statesmen and explorers such as
Clive of Indiaand Captain Cook, and sowed the seeds of the world-wide British Empire of the Victorian and Edwardianeras which were to follow.
Politics and social revolt
With the ending of the War with France, the
United Kingdomentered 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 spinnersand weavers march from Manchesterto Londonin March 1817 to hand the Government a petition. The Ludditesdestroyed and damaged machinery in the industrial north-west of England. The Peterloo Massacrein 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 Conspiracyof 1820 sought to blow up the Cabinetand then move on to storm the Tower of Londonand overthrow the government. This too was thwarted, and the conspirators executed or transported to Australia.
;;1714:Accession of George I.
Whigswin the British General Election.
;;1727:Accession of George II.
Jacobite risingcrushed at Battle of Culloden.
;;1760:Accession of George III.
;;1765:Stamp Act passed by parliament of Great Britain.
American Revolutionary Warbegins.
;;1783:British recognition of
American independenceas Treaty of Paris is signed by David Hartley representing George III.
;;1811:George IV begins nine-year tenure as
Prince Regent. This sub-period is defined as the Regency period.
Napoleon I of Francedefeated by the Seventh Coalitionat the Battle of Waterloo.
;;1820:Death of George III. Accession of George IV.
;;1830:Death of George IV. End of the Georgian era.
* Hochschild, Adam. "Bury the Chains, The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery" (Basingstoke: Pan Macmillan, 2005)
* Phillips, Charles. "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Kings and Queens of Britain". London: Hermes House (Arness Publishing), 2006 ISBN 0-681-45961-1
"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. [American Heritage Dictionary, http://www.bartleby.com/61/83/G0098300.html] ; see Georgian Poetry."
Kingdom of Great Britain
18th century Britain
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.