Born: 4 June 1738
Died: 29 January 1820
Birthplace: London, England
Best known as: English king who lost the American colonies
Britain's King George III was the 18th century monarch who lost the fight to keep control over the American colonies. The third monarch of the Hanover house and the first to be born in England, he held the throne from 1760 until 1820, a reign nearly as long as his granddaughter Queen Victoria's. In his six decades as king George III wrangled with Parliament over issues of power and authority and had many setbacks, but in his later years was a popular king, known for his virtuous ways and steady leadership through the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Although George III went down in American history books as a tyrant, he was not directly responsible for the laws that ultimately drove the colonists to revolution. Once the rebellion started, however, his indignant reaction to the challenge of British rule -- and his need to make an example of the colonists -- caused him to extend the conflict beyond reason. In the late 1780s and again in 1801 he was incapacitated by a form of mental illness that caused periods of agitation and incessant ranting (some surmise the condition was a result of a blood condition, porphyria). He recovered in both instances, but after 1810 he was blind and permanently unable to fulfill his duties. In 1811 Parliament passed the Regency Bill, appointing George's eldest son to rule as Prince Regent. During the long reign of George III England underwent many social, technological and cultural changes and continued to prosper as a world power.
Extra credit: King George III had the third-longest reign in British history, behind Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II... George was known as a family man, loyal to his wife and continually fretting for his ne'er-do-well children (he had nine sons and six daughters; two of the sons died in early childhood)... Because of his keen interest in agriculture, he was sometimes referred to as "Farmer George."
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