William Sterling

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Life and Times of King George IV

June 6 @ 11:00 am - June 13 @ 1:30 pm


George IV waited till he was nearly 60 before succeeding as king but once he had was diligent and successful.

  1. Course Description

George IV is perhaps best remembered as the Prince Regent whose extravagance was matched by his good taste.  He built Brighton Pavilion in an exotic style which led the way to great changes in fashion.  The Regency Period is still one of the most admired in architecture typified by Nash, furniture and the arts.  George was a patron both of the theatre and horse racing and was the butt of some of the wickedest satirical cartoons ever produced.  His personal life was fraught with quarrels with his parents who would not allow him to marry the woman he loved.  His marriage was a disaster and his beloved daughter met with tragedy.  His reign as Regent marked the climax with the war against Napoleon and he counted Wellington among his close companions.  In politics, Charles James Fox led a new radical Left whilst on the Right, his first Prime Minister as Regent was assassinated but Robert Peel founded the police force as Home Secretary and among other reforms was the Catholic Emancipation Act.  After one of the grandest ever coronation George made the first peaceful visits since union to Edinburgh (coordinated by Sir Walter Scott) and Dublin.  But his reign was marred by the scandal surrounding his estranged wife.  In the world of science and technology the first railways were built in his reign.

  1. What the course will cover.

The course will be run in three sessions dividing George IV’s life into three periods and looked at more or less chronologically.  In each session his personal life and family will be examined as well as the role he played as Prince of Wales, Prince Regent and King as well as looking at the background to his “times”, the social and cultural state of the nation.  Themes that will come out include the changes in politics with the further development of political parties, foreign affairs such as the wars against Napoleon and the attempts to keep peace after Waterloo, cultural developments especially in architecture, the art of Lawrence and Cruikshank, and the development of the novel by Jane Austen and Scott.

  1. What you will be able to do by the end of the course

Discuss the place and role of the monarchy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with more authority

Listen to music and look at art from the period with greater appreciation of the background to how the composers and artists approached their work

Recall facts and events from the reign to put in context with other historical studies

Recognize the style of the period and influences on our modern world

Analyse the interaction between the court and the events going on around them


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