King George II

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See also Wikipedia's article about "George II of Great Britain".

King George II granted[1] a Royal Charter for the opening of King's College in 1754.

He was the second British king of the Hanoverian dynasty. His father was George I, a German prince who was somewhat estranged from his subjects, spoke little English, and kept a closer eye on his German dominions (where he was a Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire) than Britain itself. He feuded with his father and his son, and also with his grandson, who would be become George III.

George II was born in Germany, but grew up in Great Britain. He is notable in British constitutional history for being the first monarch to delegate significant executive power to the recently-created role of Prime Minister. He preferred to shy away from matters of state, and devoted his time to be a patron of scholarship and the arts. One of his more notable acts was to order a transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. In all, he was probably the best of the four Georges. Unlike his predecessor, he genuinely tried to be a King of Great Britain instead of a Deutsche Fische out of Wasser. And unlike his successor, he preferred talking to people instead of trees.

His full title was George the Second, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France[2] and Ireland, Defender of the Faith[3], Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg[4], Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire[5], etc.[6]

His full title in Latin, which was used in certain treaties and legal documents (apparently, the British Parliament was required to publish summaries of its actions in Latin well into the 19th century), was Georgius Secundus, Dei Gratia Magnae Britanniae, Franciae et Hiberniae Rex, Fidei Defensor, Brunsvicensis et Luneburgensis Dux, Sacri Romani Imperii Archithesaurarius et Elector.

References

  1. It is important to note that George II did not actually issue the Charter by himself. The colonial Governor of New York, James DeLancey, acting governor of the Province of New York (his predecessor had decided to off himself by hopping into the Hudson), issued the charter in the name of George II after being petitioned by the citizenry, which, as Royal Governor, he had the authority and right to do. It is very likely that, given the policy of salutatory neglect, George II himself had no idea that such a charter was issued until after the fact. It didn't stop him from contributing lots of money.
  2. Due to a centuries-old territorial dispute, every English / British monarch kept up the legal fiction of also being the King of France from 1369 to 1801. Legal documents and agreements between the kings of Great Britain and France during the 18th century were correspondingly absurd. The creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as well as the fact that the French monarchy had been abolished in 1792) created an opening for George III to drop it from his title in 1801.
  3. The title fidei defensor was originally granted by Pope Leo X to King Henry VIII in 1521, after Henry VIII published a stirring defense of Catholicism in the face of Lutheran attack. Later on, when Henry VIII decided that Lutheran attacks nevertheless allowed him to divorce his wife, the Pope stripped him of this title. Nevertheless, Henry VIII liked it so much that he had Parliament re-confer it upon him, which every British monarch ever since has kept.
  4. The Hanoverian kings had significant holdings in continential Europe. They ruled as Dukes of Hanover until 1814, when they decided that the title King of Hanover suited themselves better. This continued until Prussia annexed Hanover in 1866 and deposed the Hanoverian dynasty.
  5. Supposedly, the Holy Roman Emperor was "elected" by German princes. Supposedly, the Holy Roman Emperor had real political power. Supposedly, the title "archtreasurer and prince-elector" meant some sort of fiscal responsibility. In reality, the Holy Roman Empire was, in the words of Voltaire, "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire" and would be quietly and unceremoniously wound down in 1806. But it was a nice title.
  6. At various points he was also "Duke and Marquess of Cambridge", "Earl of Milford Haven", "Viscount Northallerton", "Baron Tewkesbury", "Prince of Wales", "Earl of Chester", "Duke of Cornwall", and "Duke of Rothesay". Where these places are and why they matter, perhaps only he knows.
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