George II - 1727-1760
With the support of his able first minister, Robert Walpole, George II ruled over a flourishing Britain. Although at war with European powers, it grew into an empire of worldwide trade thanks to the power of its navy.
The first skirmish on the high seas was the War of Jenkins' Ear. The war took its name from Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, who claimed Spanish coastguards had cut off his ear in 1731. He exhibited the ear in the House of Commons and so aroused public opinion, that the government of the British Prime Minister Robert Walpole reluctantly declared war on October 23, 1739. Basically, the war was one of commercial rivalry between England and Spain. This was followed by the War of the Austrian succession, in which Britain supported the claims of Maria Theresa against Prussian ambitions
to take over the heart of the Hapsburg Empire. During this war George took part personally at the Battle of Dettingen, the last British King to go into battle. Before the war was over George was faced with the last Jacobite challenge. This was when Bonnie Prince Charlie led his clansmen army as far as Derby, but was finally defeated at Culloden thus concluding the Stuart challenge to the throne.
There now followed another European war that lasted seven years until 1763, but Britain's interest was now growing overseas, and victories in Canada and India brought these countries into Britain's possession. This laid i he foundations for a new era with Britain as a world power.
Though not notable for his patronage of the arts, George was an enthusiastic supporter of George Frederick Handel, standing up at the 'Hallelujah Chorus' of the Messiah as a tribute to the composer - a ritual followed by audiences even today. George also commissioned Handel to compose special music for a firework display which celebrated the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1749. It is believed that Handel wrote the Water Music for George II to compensate for his long absences in England from the court at Hanover, by whom he was employed.
Key Events during the Reign of George II
1727 - George succeeds his father George I.
1732 - A royal charter is granted for the founding of Georgia.
1736 - Witchcraft is finally abolished as a crime.
1737 Death of Queen Caroline.
1738 - John and Charles Wesley start the Methodist movement.
1739 - Britain goes to war with Spain.
1740-48 - War of Austrian Succession breaks out in Europe.
1742 - Walpole resigns as Prime Minister and is created Earl of Orford.
1743 - George leads troops into battle at Dettingen in Bavaria.
1745 - Jacobite Rising in Scotland.
1746 - Scots crushed at the Battle of Culloden.
1756-63 - Seven Years' War.
1757 - Robert Clive wins Battle of Plassey and secures the Indian province of Bengal for Britain. William Pitt becomes Prime Minister.
1760 - George II dies at the age of 76.