English King George II

(Augustus George)




George Augustus was born November 10, 1683.  King George II, King of England, was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg (Hanover) and Arch treasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.  He is my twenty sixth cousin, seven times removed.  The ancestors in common are Eystein Glumra Ivarsson and his wife, Aseda Rognvaldsdatter, GeorgasÕs 25th great grandparents. They are my 32nd great grandparents.  Eystein Glumra Ivarsson is a ninth century Viking from Norway.  Putting King George's relationship to me another way, he is the 8th cousin, twice removed, of the husband of the stepdaughter of my 6th great grand uncle.  He lived until October 25, 1780.


He was the last British monarch to have been born outside of Great Britain, and was famous for his numerous conflicts with his father and, subsequently, with his son.  As King, he exercised little control over policy in his early reign, the government instead being controlled by Great Britain's first (unofficial) "Prime Minister," Sir Robert Walpole.


George was born at Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover (Germany).  He was the son of Georg Ludwig, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-LŸneburg (later King George I of Great Britain), and his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle.  Both of George's parents committed adultery, and in 1694 their marriage was dissolved on the pretext that Sophia had abandoned George. Sophia was confined to Ahlden Castle and denied access to her children; George probably never saw his mother again.


Although George primarily spoke German, he was also schooled in English, French, and Italian. He studied military history and tactics with particular diligence.


George's second cousin once removed, Queen Anne, who had ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, had no surviving children. By the Act of Settlement 1701, the English Parliament had designated George's grandmother Sophia and her descendants as Anne's heirs, as Sophia was Anne's closest Protestant blood relation.  Consequently, after his grandmother and father, George was third in the line of succession to the English throne.  He was naturalized as an English citizen in 1705 by the Sophia Naturalization Act, and in 1706, he was made a Knight of the Garter and  titles were created as the Duke and the Marquess of Cambridge, Earl of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton and Baron Tewkesbury in the Peerage of England.


George II succeeded to the throne on his father's death on 22 June 1727. His father was buried at Hanover, but George decided not to go, which far from bringing criticism led to praise from the English who considered it proof of the new King's fondness for Britain. George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 22 October. The Hanoverian composer HŠndel was commissioned to write four new anthems for the coronation; one of which, Zadok the Priest, has been sung at every coronation since.


It was widely believed both that George would dismiss Walpole, who had distressed him by joining his father's government, and that Sir Spencer Compton would replace him; George requested Compton, rather than Walpole, to write his first speech for him.  Sir Spencer, however, requested Walpole for aid in the task, leading Queen Caroline, an ardent supporter of Sir Robert, to claim that Compton was incompetent. George did not behave obstinately; instead, he agreed with his wife and retained Walpole as Prime Minister, who continued to slowly gain royal favor, securing a generous civil list of £800,000 for the King. Walpole commanded a substantial majority in Parliament and George II had little choice but to retain him or risk ministerial instability.


He also persuaded many Tory politicians to accept the succession laid down in the Act of Settlement as valid. In turn, the King helped Sir Robert to gain a strong parliamentary majority by creating peers sympathetic to the Whigs.


While the Queen was still alive, Walpole's position was secure. He was the master of domestic policy, and he still exerted some control over George's foreign policy. Whereas the King was eager for war in Europe, the Prime Minister was more cautious. Thus, in 1729, he encouraged George to sign a peace treaty with Spain. George unsuccessfully pressed Walpole to join the War of the Polish Succession on the side of the German states.  


On 21 April 1732, George granted a charter to James Oglethorpe, creating the Province of Georgia (or Georgia Colony). In the original grant, a narrow strip of the province extended to the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the Southern colonies in British North America, and was the last of the thirteen original colonies established by Great Britain in what later became the United States. In 1734 he founded the Georg August University of Gšttingen in Germany, also named after him. He had earlier served as the ninth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin between 1715 and 1718.


On April 13, 1742, Handel's "Messiah" premiered in Dublin, Ireland.  It is said that this is the performance when English King George II rose to his feet at the beginning of that portion of the "Messiah" known as the Hallelujah Chorus.  The whole rest of the audience rose to its feet, as it is the custom that all present rise, if and when the King rises.  Thus began the custom in the music world that audiences all over the world rise out of respect for this music and this occasion.


However, modern scholarship holds the origins of this tradition in doubt.  Some say that the King may not have even been present at the premiere.  Other sources claim this standing of King George took place on March 23, 1743 at the first performance of Handel's "Messiah" in London.  So, the originating occasion is confused, but the tradition is, indeed, steeped in the minds of Christians across the world in many occasions where the "Messiah" is performed.  


Of course, doesn't modern scholarship do that to so many of the inspiring recollections in our world history?  Secularism seems to take every opportunity to cast doubt upon anything that has spiritual accolades developed which inspire the divine relationships we hold dear.