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Hanoverian Britain

Mark Knights

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0072
Hanoverian Britain

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  • History of the Americas
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Hanoverian Britain spanned the period from the accession of George, elector of Hanover, to the British throne in 1714 until the death of William IV in 1837. The term is often used interchangeably with “Georgian Britain,” although of course technically the last George (before the 20th century) was George IV, who died in 1830. Both terms are also used to denote, more generally, a “long 18th century.” What follows focuses on the period of 1714–1837. Hanoverian Britain was, for many years, something of a historical backwater as historians basked in a Whiggish view that stability, liberty, and improvement were the 18th century’s defining characteristics. The scope of analysis was often limited to high politics and international relations, the era seen as one of importance in the consolidation of a parliamentary system dominated by a social elite and of imperial expansion to great power status. Over the last forty years or so, the historical focus has widened considerably and the period has come alive with a series of controversies. These have centered on social change and conflict, the importance of religion, consumerism and material culture, the rapidity of industrialization, the emergence of national identity, the extent of radicalism, the nature of a variety of different reforming impulses, and the interplay between motherland and colonies. Two other aspects of Hanoverian Britain are noteworthy but not covered fully here because there are separate sections for them in the Enlightenment and the growth of a fiscal military state. However, there are short summaries here of essential reading for these topics. Hanoverian Britain’s relations with its Atlantic colonies are also dealt with elsewhere in Oxford Bibliographies; but there is a summary here of useful material that views the Atlantic world through British eyes. Until the Act of Union of 1801, Ireland was not part of Britain and, indeed, was formally a colony; Irish issues were nevertheless often part of British politics, especially after 1801.

Article.  12200 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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