The Georgian period in Britain is generally defined as when the House of Brunswick
originating from Hanover
, excluding the reign of Queen Victoria
It is marked as a period that saw political reform, arising from the dramatic social and economic effects of the agrarian and industrial revolutions, and further modernising of institutions such as the military
and universities. Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and the Bronte sisters
would most eloquently describe life in this period as the old order reinvented itself.
The Hanoveran George I acceded to the British throne in 1714 after the death of Queen Anne, a right inherited to him by the 1701 Act of Settlement. He came to Britain and surrounded himself with German advisors and servants, although after allying himself the Protestant Whigs he generally left government up to Cabinet (particuarly Robert Walpole). George I was more interested in having a good time womanising and drinking rather than governing (or even learning English), and he much perferred living back in Hanover. While he rule the agrarian revolution took hold - small individual strip farming were merged together, dramatically improving productivity and creating a large workforce of labourers.
His son George II became King in 1727. He preferred having a greater hands on approach to government, which put him in conflict with both his father and Robert Walpole. A monarch with a passion for things military, George II led Britain down the road to war with the Spanish and then the French, while battling a Tory-inspired Jacobite insurgency led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He was the last British monarch to physically participate in armed conflict (at Dettingen against the French in 1743). Like his father he was ill-tempered and aggressive, although he eventually learnt to appreciate Walpole's sagacity, especially after Walpole got Britain out of conflicts of his own making.
George II rule outlasted the life of his son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, and thus when George II died in 1760 he was succeeded by his grandson. George III 'madness' (specifically porphyria) led to his erratic rule and ultimately his removal. He broke the grip the Whigs had on power and through subversion managed to fill Cabinet with servile and mediocre ministers. They evidently were not the best team to pick when dealing with the American War of Independence, although by the time the Napoleonic Wars came more capable figures like Pitt the Younger, Horatio Nelson and Arthur Wellesley were making the decisions.
At the same time, Britain was industrialising quickly, thanks to several new inventions like the steam engine, the spinning jenny and coal-fired iron smelting. Transport links were extended through canals and later railways. There was also greater call for political reform and human rights, such as unionism and the abolishment of slavery.
George IV reigned as King from 1820, although since 1811 he was effectively allowed to rule as the Prince Regent. He was known to be a strong supporter for the arts and an extravagent spender of public buildings - 'regency' architecture is coined after him. He ruled in a period of economic dislocation and transformation caused by the Napoleonic Wars, and the start of the Industrial Revolution, a time when his extravengent spending of public buildings
William IV took over in 1830 after the death of George IV, his brother. His seven year reign coincided with political upheavals in Europe, caused by the Industrial Revolution empowering the newly rich and educated over the old landed gentry. He managed to force through the House of Lords the Reform Act of 1832, the start of many bills that extended sufferage and strengthened parliamentary rule.
William IV died in 1837 without ever having children. Succession then would have gone to his brother Edward Duke of Cumberland, but he too had since died. Edward's eighteen year old daughter Victoria thus acceded to the throne.