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Hanover


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George I (1660—1727) king of Great Britain and Ireland and elector of Hanover

Earl of Chatham William Pitt (1708—1778) prime minister

Act of Settlement

Hanseatic League

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Was in personal union with Britain from 1714, when George I succeeded Queen Anne under the terms of the Act of Settlement, until 1837 when the Salic Law prevented Victoria from retaining Hanover and it passed to her uncle, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland. In 1714 it had a population of just over 500,000 and was rather bigger than Yorkshire. The chief town, Hanover, had about 10,000 inhabitants. In 1719, the acquisition of Bremen and Verden at the expense of Sweden gave the electorate access to the North Sea.

The connection with Hanover was regarded by most Britons with distaste or at best as a necessary evil. The Act of Settlement had indicated a marked distrust. The new monarch could not appoint Germans to any post in Britain, could not declare war to help Hanover without parliamentary consent, and could not even visit his native land without parliamentary approval. Though the last condition was soon dropped, as personally offensive to the sovereign, suspicion remained. In December 1742, William Pitt gained great popularity by declaring that ‘this great, this powerful, this formidable kingdom is considered only as a province of a despicable electorate’.

After 1760, British hostility to Hanover declined. The declaration by the new king, George III, that ‘born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain’ played the nationalist card to some effect, and the swarms of Scots who clustered around Bute gave the English new people to hate. George III never visited Hanover, though at moments of crisis he mused on retiring there.

Subjects: British History.


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