Sunday, May 2, 2010

Enter the Hanoverians

55 yo George, the Elector of Hanover, got the usual nice Westminster Abbey coronation in October 1714. 

George Is coronation portrait

He spoke not a word of English & didn't think it necessary to learn.  The British peeps were gobsmacked at his personal life.  Instead of bringing over a queen, he brought over his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, whom he created the Duchess of Kendal posthaste, as well as Duchess of Munster, Marchioness of Dungannon, Countess of Feversham, Baroness Dundalk, & Baroness Glastonbury.

Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal

Lots of titles were good for a mistress b/c she got the rents & profits off the lands of each one, so Mellie raked in a ton of groats.  George had 3 daughters by Mellie, Anna, Melusina, & Margaret.  The middle daughter married a Brit, Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, whilst the other 2 married German peeps.  Mellie was known as "the Maypole" in England b/c she was thin & tall; the Hanoverians just sniggered & called her "the Scarecrow".  Twas whispered that the king mayhap had married her seecrudly at some pt, but it cannot be proved w/ actual papers.

George could've done so, as he kept his ex-wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, imprisoned in Hanover.

Sophia Dorothea of Celle, w/ her 2 children,
George & Sophia

What's good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander there.  George had been dangling after Mellie for yrs & sired 2 kidlets upon the mistress that he flaunted at his Hanoverian court, so his neglected DW decided twas past time to get in a little rec of her own.  She began a torrid affair w/ Philip, Count von Konigsmarck. 

Philip, Count von Konigsmarck

George was not amused.  He & the wife had a furious argument during which twas said he had to be pulled off her by their attendants, as they feared he was going to strangle her to death.  Sophia decided she had enough of this double standard shite & was going to flee Hanover w/ her BF.  Rumor has it that George paid some peeps to murder Phil, weight him down w/ rocks, & toss him into the nearest river when he discovered DW was planning on running away w/ her lover.  Tho he divorced her posthaste, he still had her immured in the Castle of Ahlden & nobody batted an eyelash.

mid-1600s engraving of Ahlden

So George could've conceivably had a seecrud wedding w/ Mellie if he wanted, being all legally divorced, but not on adultery grounds; he filed for abandonment since Sophia was planning to leave him.  Poor Sophia Dorothea, then just 28, never got to see her 2 children by George, 11 yo George Jr & 7 yo Sophia Jr, again, & when she demised of really bad gallstones 12 yrs after DH became king, he refused to have the court go into mourning & wrote a snarky letter to his daughter for permitting it in her own court (she was married to Frederick of Prussia). 

Tho technically not the queen, Mellie acted like it.  Peeps didn't know what to make of this nonsense.  Kings had mistresses galore, but they certainly had never b4 allowed them to queen it over the court, except maybe in Anne Boleyn's case.  To complicate the situation, George had a 2nd official mistress, Sophia von Kielmansegg, who was rumored to be his bastard half-sis!  Her coat of arms boasted a bar sinister, which indeed confirmed she was born on the wrong side of someone's blanket; whether twas George's daddy Ernest Augustus, we dunno.  In contrast to Mellie, Sophie was so short & fat that she was nicknamed "the Elephant".  She only got to be Countess of Leinster, Countess of Darlington, & Baroness Brentford.

One of the 1st things George had to deal w/ (besides translators & interpreters LOL) was those pesky wannabe Stuarts.  This is known as the '15 b/c this Jacobite rising took place in 1715.  Of course it was supported by the Scots.  James III, as he now termed himself, landed there shortly after the battle of Sheriffmuir, which both sides claimed victory does that happen?  Trouncing is trouncing!  Apparently one battle was enough for the Scots & they started melting away into the Highlands. 

James Francis Edward Stuart AKA James III

James was miffed at this draining of support & decided not to be crowned at Scone as he'd intended.  He went back to France but whatever Louis it was had demised & the Frenchies glared at him & showed him the door, so off to Italy he went, having been offered a nice rent-free palace by the pope.  4 yrs later, at age 41, he married  17 yo Maria Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of the King of Poland.

Maria Clementina Sobieska

This is how James got to be known as "the Old Pretender" b/c his Polish bride presented him w/ 2 sons, Charles Edward, who would become "the Young Pretender", & Henry Benedict, who would become a cardinal of the Catholic Church.

Charles Edward Stuart AKA Bonnie Prince Charlie, aged 10

Henry Benedict Stuart, aged 6
this is THE cutest little prince!

Once those pesky Jacobites had settled down, George turned his attn to glaring at his son George Augustus, the new Prince of Wales.  They had opposing political views & argued lots. 

George Augustus, Prince of Wales

At one pt George was so aggravated w/ Junior that he threw him out of St James's Palace.  The POWs new residence of Leicester House became a gathering place for Tory peeps who were unfussed w/ the king's Whig bent.  None of the Hanoverians seemed too fussed w/ their heirs.

Leicester House (tis now merely Leicester Square, sans the house)

Junior's wife, Caroline of Ansbach, was said to be way smarter than her DH & she snuggled up to the king's peeps in order to effect a reconciliation after the argument they'd had at the christening of one of their kidlets.  Caroline was the 1st Princess of Wales since Catherine of Aragon.

Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales

George decided to embrace the anti-Spanish sentiment & formed the Triple Alliance, consisting of Great Britain, France, & what was termed the United Provinces, formerly the Low Countries.  This became the Quadruple Alliance w/ the addition of the Holy Roman Empire to it & they started up that War of the Spanish Succession that Queen Anne had put an end to all over again.  Spain said pffft & started funneling coin to the Scots Jacobites & there was another battle at Glen Shiel, where the Jacobites were trounced.  The British had nice artillery & they didn't.  OUCH.

Then there was the South Sea Bubble.  Not as much fun as it sounds LOL  Twas merely a lot of stock speculation in an attempt to reduce the national debt & rake groats into the treasury, & as it oft occurs w/ such, the "bubble" happened when the whole thing burst & went kerflooey & lots of peeps lost lots of money.  Think like a stock market crash thingy.  Lots of nobles were ruint & they glared at George for letting it happen & he became quite unpopular.  His main Parliament peep, Sir Robert Walpole, had to do some fancy dancing to keep the king himself from being indicted.

George I

George decided to let Walpole handle his domestic policy whilst he concentrated on his foreign policy.  This is the start of Prime Ministers getting to have a lot of power in Great Britain.  No one much cared when he got some more territory for the growing Hanover out of his Great Northern War w/ Sweden & Russia, but peeps were OK w/ his Treaty of Hanover b/c it was supposed to protect British trade once the Spanish looked round, saw nobody liked em, & created an alliance w/ Austria, which was growing in size & power under the remaining Hapsburgs.  Every few yrs George would toddle off to Hanover for a nice long visit & he demised en route there in 1727, having suffered a stroke on the road.  Twas decided to leave him there & he was buried in Hanover.

The POW, already in his mid-40s, was likely jumping up & down at finally getting to be the king at last & no father yelling at him all the time.  There was the usual nice coronation at Westminster Abbey.  This is when Handel was famous & the new king got him to write some music pieces for the coronation, & they've been used for every coronation since.

George IIs coronation portrait

George & Caroline's eldest son, Frederick, was 20 & had never been to England, as his grandfather liked him to stay in Hanover & preside over official stuff there.  Frederick drummed his fingers impatiently waiting to be called over & invested as Prince of Wales.  This took about 2 yrs, so he was not amused.  His parents hadn't hardly been in Hanover at all, so they had to get reacquainted.

Frederick, Prince of Wales

They heartily despised each other....

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