William Sterling

George II

Life and Times of King George II

This workshop was run to complement the Music Appreciation Class on Handel and Royalty. George II is perhaps best remembered as the last British monarch to lead his troops into battle and also as the instigator of the custom of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel’s Messiah. His reign marked the high point of Handel’s career which the King did much to promote but also saw other great achievements in British culture with the art of Hogarth and the works of Pope and Swift. In politics, Robert Walpole created the post of Prime Minister and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebellion was the last attempt by the Stuarts to regain power and made him into an instant legend. Towards the end of the reign men like Pitt, Wolfe and Clive laid the foundations of the British Empire whilst the Agricultural Revolution was transforming British Society. The course ran in three sessions dividing George II’s life into three periods and looked at more or less chronologically. In each session his personal life and family was examined as well as the role he played as Prince of Wales and King as well as looking at the background to his “times”, the social and cultural state of the nation. Themes that came out included the changes in politics with the development of the post of Prime Minister under Robert Walpole and his successors, foreign affairs such as the wars against France and the famous Jacobite Rebellion in 1745 under Bonnie Prince Charlie, cultural developments especially in music and the role of the court in the works of Handel (who wrote much of his best loved music for the royal family) and his contemporaries, the art of Hogarth, Britain’s first great native painter of everyday life who nevertheless ended up by being given a royal appointment, and the early development of the British Empire in Canada and India under great leaders like Wolfe and Clive.

I ran this workshop at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) in November 2002 as part of a series on the Kings and Queens of England.

George II chronology

Below is a copy of the spreadsheet I created for the class showing events year by year in George II’s life.

George II chronology