xxxxxDespite a great deal of enmity between George I and his son and heir George Augustus, he succeeded his father in June 1727. As a person he was much easier going, and the fact that he spoke English - albeit with a pronounced German accent - made him more acceptable to his British subjects. He remained more German than English, but he took a much greater and informed interest in the general affairs of state. However, he found some difficulty in coping with the shifting sands of party politics, and therefore tended to heed the advice of his ministers, a fact which greatly assisted the development of cabinet government under Robert Walpole, - Britain's first "prime minister", but never named as such.

xxxxxGeorge supported Walpole's policy of avoiding war on the continent but then, like his father before him, he quarrelled with his son and heir, Frederick Louis. ThexPrince of Wales openly joined a faction opposed to the government, and in 1742 these dissidents forced Walpole from office. The king then appointed a former minister, John Carteret (1690-1763), secretary of state and, together, they took Britain into the War of the Austrian Succession, clearly anxious to defend Hanover against a possible French attack. As a result, the victory he achieved at Dettingen in 1743, when he himself led his army into battle - the last British monarch to do so - was a hollow one politically. It was felt in many quarters - particularly in Parliament and the press - that in dragging Britain into a continental war he was subordinating Britain's interests to those of his German possessions. Indeed, the outstanding statesman William Pitt the Elder openly opposed the sending of men and money to defend Hanover, arguing that French power should be opposed at sea and in the colonies, not by becoming embroiled in continental land battles. He described Carteret as the "Hanover troop minister". Pitt's comments hardly endeared him to the king, but in 1746, under pressure from his ministers, he was obliged to bring Pitt into the government.

xxxxxGeorge II's reign witnessed the final defeat of the Jacobite cause, crushed on the battlefield of Culloden in 1746, and it closed with a series of brilliant victories in the Seven Years' War. Under the astute leadership of William Pitt the Elder, the British gained the ascendancy in the sub-continent of India - notably with Robert Clive's victory at Plassey - and much of North America came under their control following General Wolfe's capture of Quebec in 1759 and the subsequent fall of Montreal. At the beginning of the reign, Britain was a European nation to be reckoned with, but, by its end, it was on the threshold of becoming a world power, vested with the beginnings of a far-flung empire, a growing mastery of the seas, and, at home, an expanding economy administered by a relatively stable form of government.

xxxxxGeorge married the attractive and intelligent Caroline of Ansbach in 1705 and, during his reign, she played quite a prominent part in political matters, advising him on appointments and acting as regent during his numerous and regular visits to Hanover. Their son, Frederick, died in 1751, so, on the king’s sudden death in October 1760, he was succeeded by Frederick's son, George III, aged 22.

xxxxxIncidentally, George II was interested in all things military and - so we are told - organised his day with military precision. He also loved opera, and was a generous patron of the German-born composer George Frederic Handel. He was the last monarch to reside at Hampton Court. In 1761 George III bought Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace) near St. James' park in London.

GEORGE II  1727 - 1760  (G2)  Lived 1683 - 1760







Vitus Bering, the Danish seafarer, passes through the strait, now named after him, which separates Siberia and Alaska. He dies in a shipwreck during a second expedition in 1741.

The English poet and satirist Alexander Pope writes his The Dunciad, attacking the inept poets of the day. His friend, John Gay, takes London by storm with The Beggar's Opera.

The Scottish architect James Gibbs, designer of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, publishes his Book of Architecture, a work which influenced church building in England and America.


The German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1721 G1) composes his St. Matthew Passion. Apart from sacred music, he wrote fugues, chamber music and orchestral work.

India falls increasingly under the control of the Maratha as the Mughal Empire begins to fall apart. The virtual end comes with the invasion of Nadir Shah, the leader of Iran, in 1739.


Viscount Townshend, known as "Turnip Townshend”, retires and, by introducing better methods of farming on his estate, improves the quantity and quality of his food and fodder crops - all part of the Agricultural Revolution.


Two French artists, François Boucher and Jean Baptiste Chardin, begin to gain fame in Paris; Boucher as a court painter and Chardin for depicting the life of the petite bourgeoisie.


Following the death of Augustus II, the War of the Polish Succession breaks out, with Russia and Austria supporting Augustus III, and France and Spain Stanislaw Leszczynski.

Settlement begins in Georgia, the last of the thirteen British colonies in North America. This only serves to hasten the outbreak of war between the French and British colonists in 1744.


The English inventor John Kay patents his "flying shuttle", a device which greatly increases the speed of hand-loom-weaving, marking the start of mechanisation in the textile industry.


In his Lettres philosophiques the French philosopher Voltaire, regarded by many as the intellectual giant of the century, speaks out fearlessly in favour of the rights of man.


The Treaty of Vienna ends the War of the Polish Succession. A major result is Russia's domination of Poland, a country soon to be swallowed up by its powerful neighbours.

The System of Nature, published by the Swedish botanist

Carolus Linnaeus, classifies plants and animals by a binomial

method which names the genus and then the species.

The British painter William Hogarth produces The Rake’s Progress, one of a series of picture dramas which give an insight into the life of his times, and the lessons to be learnt.


The Safavid Empire, attacked earlier by the Afghans, and then invaded by the Russians and Ottoman Turks, finally collapses, and Nadir Shah declares himself the new leader of Iran.


The "Porteous Riots" break out in Edinburgh. After the city guard fires on an unruly crowd, killing and wounding many, the guard commander, John Porteous, is hanged by the mob.


Hydrodynamica is published. Produced by the Swiss physicist Daniel Bernoulli, it greatly advances the understanding of fluids, and pioneers work into the kinetic theory of gases.


The artist Antonio Canaletto completes The Upper Reaches of the Grand Canal, one of his many spectacular views of Venice. He visited England and painted scenes of London.


The so-called War of Jenkin’s Ear breaks out between Britain and Spain over Spanish attacks on British merchantmen. In 1741 it merges into the War of the Austrian Succession.

Methodism, an evangelical movement claiming that salvation is possible by inner faith alone, is founded by the brothers John and Charles Wesley. Attracting vast numbers, it remains within the Church of England until 1795.

Nadir Shah of Iran, having taken over power from the Safavids, invades northern India, wins the Battle of Karnal, and sacks Delhi, finally bringing down the great Mughal Empire. India breaks up into warring factions.

After renewed fighting with the Ottomans, by the Treaties of Belgrade, Austria has to give up parts of Romania and Serbia, and all Russian shipping is excluded from the Black Sea.


Following the death of Emperor Charles VI, Frederick II of Prussia invades Silesia and unleashes the War of the Austrian Succession. Many European countries are involved.

A Treatise of Human Nature is published in Britain, the work of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist David Hume.

The English antiquarian William Stukeley makes a study of Stonehenge and concludes, wrongly, that the stone circle was built by the Druids. He carried out research at Avebury in 1743.


The German composer George Frederick Handel, famous for his oratorios and Italian-style operas, travels to Dublin to conduct the first performance of his inspired work, The Messiah.

The Swedish scientist Anders Celsius invents a new temperature scale based on 100 degrees. Named after him, it comes into general use, and is adopted in all scientific work.


A force of British, Hanovarians and Hessians, led by George II, defeats the French at the Battle of Dettingen. However, the War of the Austrian Succession continues unabated.

The first edition of Atlas Generale is published by the French map maker Bourguignon d’Anville. Because of his accuracy, he is regarded as the founder of modern cartography.


As offshoots of the War of the Austrian Succession, fighting breaks out between British and French colonists in India and in North America - where it is known as King George's War.


In the War of the Austrian Succession, the French defeat the British, Dutch and Hanoverians at the Battle of Fontenoy. In Canada, the British seize the French fort of Louisbourg, but in India they lose Madras to the French.

Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of James II, lands in Scotland in July and leads a rebellion against the Crown. He invades England but, lacking support, retreats after reaching Derby.



The Jacobites are defeated at the Battle of Culloden, the last pitched land battle in Britain. Bonnie Prince Charlie escapes with the help of Flora Macdonald and returns to France. He later settles in Italy.

Following the death of Nadir Shah, Afghanistan is united under Ahmad Shah Durrani. After consolidating his new kingdom, he begins a series of attacks upon India, fighting against the Mughals, Marathas and Sikhs.

The Swiss physician Albrecht von Haller, the founder of neurology, writes his Experiments in the Anatomy of Respiration. He begins his major work on physiology nine years later.


The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ends the War of the Austrian Succession. Maria Theresa is recognised as ruler of the Austrian Empire and Prussia emerges as a great power.

In Italy excavation begins of the Roman ruins at Pompeii and at Herculaneum, buried deep by the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The discoveries reawaken an interest in classical art.

The French jurist Charles Montesquieu completes The Spirit of the Laws, a treatise which stirs up ideas of revolution in France, and later plays a part in the drafting of the constitution of the United States.


Tom Jones, a rattling good story of high spirited adventure, full of humour, comic incident and compassion, is written by the English novelist Henry Fielding.


The London poet Thomas Gray finishes work on his Elegy in a Country Churchyard, a melancholy work of great clarity and simplicity which stresses the transience of life.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher, gains fame with his Discourse on the Influence of Learning and Art. Two of his major works are published in 1762 (G3a).

The French astronomer Nicolas Lacaille leads an expedition to South Africa. Over the next two years he determines the position of some 10,000 stars in the southern hemisphere.


A small British garrison, led by the young soldier Robert Clive, withstands the Siege of Arcot and thus gains a major victory over the French in the struggle for power in India.  

The French philosopher Denis Diderot, and the mathematician D’Alembert, produce the first volume of the Encyclopédie, a vast work of reference which takes 30 years to complete.

The English landscape gardener “Capability Brown” starts work at Petworth, Sussex. His natural, seemingly unplanned style is soon in demand in estates all over the country.


The Gregorian Calendar, introduced in 1582, is finally adopted by Britain. The necessary adjustment causes riots, with many people demanding to have their eleven days back!

The emperor Ch'ien-lung crushes a revolt in Tibet and tightens his grip on the country. Under him the Manchu dynasty reaches the height of its power and territorial expansion.

One of the first experiments to investigate the nature of lightning is carried out by the

American statesman, inventor and scientist Benjamin Franklin.


Species Plantarum, another work by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, gives detailed descriptions of some 6000 species and refines the classification system introduced in 1735.


Thomas Chippendale, the English furniture maker, writes The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director. The first trade journal of its kind, it proves a great success.

The Scottish physician James Lind writes his Treatise of Scurvy in which he advocates the eating of citrus fruit to prevent the disease. The Navy acts on his advice forty years later!


The English man of letters Samuel Johnson produces his famous Dictionary. This and later works, including The Lives of the Poets, make him the most famous literary figure of his day.

A massive earthquake hits Lisbon, followed by a huge tidal wave and the outbreak of fire. Much of the city is destroyed and it is estimated that over 30,000 people are killed.


In India, it is alleged that 146 British captives are imprisoned in a small cell by the ruler of Bengal and, overnight, 123 die of suffocation in the so-called “Black Hole of Calcutta”.

The Seven Years War begins. Britain allies with Prussia against France, Austria, Russia, Saxony and Sweden. The conflict rages on the continent and in North America and India.


British forces under Clive capture Calcutta and then, against heavy odds, defeat the French at the Battle of Plassey. This victory marks the beginning of the British conquest of India.


The comet of 1682 makes its re-appearance, as predicted by the English astronomer Edmund Halley in 1705 (AN). It is named in his honour, sixteen years after his death.


Frederick II of Prussia is defeated by the Russians and Austrians at the Battles of Kay and Kunersdorf. The tide begins to turn in favour of his arch enemy, Maria Theresa of Austria.

General Wolfe defeats the French at the Battle of Quebec. This victory, together with the taking of Montreal the following year, paves the way for the British conquest of Canada.


In India, the French defeat at the Battle of Wandiwash and the loss of Pondicherry the following year mark the end of French rule and the beginning of British supremacy.

George II dies at Kensington Palace in October, and is succeeded by his grandson as George III. His reign of sixty years was to witness momentous events and changes.


George II: detail, by the English portrait painter Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), 1744 – National Portrait Gallery, London. Coat of Arms: licensed under Creative Commons. Author: Sodacan –















































frederick II






Snippets During George2 reign Synopsis of George 2 Reign

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