England has never produced a ruler quite like King George III. Often called the mad king. George III is one of the most interesting figures in history. One of the most active rulers in his time, George III, despite his disabilities, has seen England and America through the French Indian war, and the American Revolution.
Unlike his grandfather George II, George III actively participated in the running of Great Britain. Government was one of his great passions in life. He owed much of his involvement in politics to his mother, Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, who raised him to be an active king, a ruling power, rather than a head figure. Be a King, George! his mother said. Never having a chance to be a queen herself, Princess Augusta, tried to rule through her young son. Her husband, Frederick, died while still holding the position of, Prince of Whales.
Princess Augusta tried to rule through her son, after all, when he became king, in 1760, he was only 22. She saw the power of government slip into the hands of Parliament, during the reign of George I, and George II. This was in part a result of lack of communication. George I spoke French and made little effort to learn the English language, and his son George II made no effort at all to learn English. They were both content to leave the workings of government to their ministers, while they remained king in name only.
But now came this young George III, setting out to eradicate the deep system of ministerial powerand to fulfill the executive trust vested in him by the laws He wanted to take the reins of government, and put the power back into the royal family. He did not eliviate the ministers, and Parliament entirely, but they did have to go through him whenever an important decision was to be made. Of course the ministers did not like this new approach to things.
George III lead an active life, he enjoyed outdoor activities such as farming, horse back riding, and hunting. Another unusual characteristic of this new king was his loyalty to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenbu-Strelitz. It is very common for English kings to have many mistresses throughout the course of their reign. Queen Charlotte was not the woman that George wanted to marry, his heart belonged to Lady Sarah Lennox, but he remained loyal to his wife even though she was not the woman he loved. Georges advisor, John Stuart, Earl of Bute, advised that George not marry for love, but instead marry royalty. George followed his advice, and became devoted to Queen Charlotte. He gave her six daughters and nine sons, a total of fifteen children.
George was only 26 when he had his first attack of insanity. Historians now believe that George III wasnt mad at all; he had a physical disease know as hepatic porphyria. Porphyria is a genetic metabolic anomaly due to overproduction of the porphyrin precursorsAn increased quantity of porphobilinogen (and porphyrins) accumulates in the liver. Porphyria is chronic, it is hereditary, and has side effects such as delirium, hallucinations, psychoses, anxiety, irritability, confusion, and restlessness. In other words George may have been a victim of a physical disease, but he was still a madman.
George was very upset by the colonists reaction to the stamp act. He took their defiance personally, thinking that it was him they hated. George did not see why the colonists refused to pay this extremely low tax. He was infuriated by their subordinate behavior. His anger mounted with the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill 1775, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the entrance into the war, on the colonists side, of France, Spain, and Holland in 1778, 1779, and 1780. However, the loss of the American Revolution was not responsible for Georges insanity. As Ive mentioned before, George suffered from Porphyria, and although certain aggravating events in history did enrage him they had nothing to do with his madness.
George refused to speak to Americas new ambassador, John Adams. King George did not show the first signs of insanity until 1788. Such fits of insanity became the talk of England, especially in Parliament. In 1811 King George was declared Regent by Parliament. The Queen was responsible for the custody of the king, while Georges least favorite son, The Prince of Wales, ruled the country. George was only king by name, relinquishing his much loved participation in government to Parliament, and his brat child.
King George III had one of the longest reigns in English history, but because of the Regency Act in 1811 he was only king in name, until his death in 1820. Although his rule was long, much of it was controlled by Porphyria, and Parliament. Although his life was hard, King George remains a fascinating character, and an important role in American history.