Georgian England, Some important tidbits....
11 Jan 2010 07:42:27PM
When Queen Anne died without any heirs, the English throne was offered to her nearest Protestant relative, George of Hanover, who thus became George I of England. Throughout the long reign of George, his son, and grandson, all named George, the very nature of English society and the political face of the realm changed. In part this was because the first two Georges took little interest in the politics of rule, and were quite content to let ministers rule on their behalf. These ministers, representatives of the king, or Prime Ministers, rather enjoyed ruling, and throughout this "Georgian period" the foundations of English political party system was solidified into something resembling what we have today. But more than politics changed; English society underwent a revolution in art and architecture. This was the age of the grand country house, when many of the great stately homes that we can visit today were built. Abroad, the English acquired more and more territory overseas through conquest and settlement, lands that would eventually make up an Empire stretching to every corner of the globe.This roleplay is set between 1714-1811 (the reigns of George I, II, and III). The year as we begin is 1770 and George III is king. For the moment, we are roleplaying in Aquitaine, France. However this is only temporary until we acquire a sim to recreate our beautiful Georgian English countryside.If interested in joining this group, please send a notecard to Lucy Shieldmaiden, the Duchess of Staffordshire.Nobles in EnglandEngland had the peerage system at this time which meant that there were titles given by the king to certain families and these families had passed them down. Certain titles, such as baronies can pass to female relatives, otherwise, a title can only be obtained through marriage. So if you are a female and you wish to have the title of Duchess or Countess, you must have a husband with the title of Duke or Earl. In the United Kingdom, the widow of a peer may continue to use the style she had during her husband's lifetime, e.g. "Countess of Loamshire", provided that his successor, if any, has no wife to bear the plain title. Otherwise she may properly prefix her title with the word dowager, e.g. Dowager Countess of Loamshire).The appropriate title for women born to nobility is Lady, e.g. Lady Anne Cavendish, if she is unmarried. Upon marriage she takes the title of her husband.If you wish to roleplay as a noble there are a few conditions:1) You must live in a home befitting your stature. For the sake of our current rp, the homes in Aquitaine are lovely and there are some grand homes to be had (you may also look at other rococo themed places as this fits our time period). These are to be designated as vacation homes. When we move to our own sim, there is no need to keep the home in Aquitaine if you do not wish to do so. If you own your own land, that is perfecthowever, if you wish to host rp activities (such as balls, salons, etc.) you need to make sure that the home is in keeping with the era.2) You can rp as a realistic noble title (i.e. Duke of Devonshire, Earl of Essex, Viscount Townshend, etc.) or you can make a title up. Neither is more important than the other but if you choose to rp as one of these, you must first state so in your rp application and it must be approved. **All RP Noble titles must be approved**3) There are no titles in the court higher than a Duke/ Duchess at the moment. For the purposes of the rp, we are not rping in any palace yet other than if we are visiting other courts. It is possible that we will be adding a king and Queen as well as Prince/Princesses in the future, however, these would be based on actual historical people and thus must be true to form.4) If you are a noble who is visiting a court (i.e. the Duchy de Coeur) than you must act in a manner befitting your stationthat of a visiting noble.5) You do not have to be a noble to be an aristocrat. There are some aristocrats who are simply by manner of birth or by inheritance; however, they hold no title.How to address nobles/royalty properly:1) Acknowledge royalty with a bow from the neck (not the waist) if you're a man and a small curtsy (placing your right foot behind your left heel and bending your knees slightly) if you're a woman.2) Finish your first reply using a formal address. For example, if a prince asks you, "How are you enjoying the United Kingdom?" you would respond, "It's wonderful, Your Royal Highness."; or "Lovely, Your Grace." in the case of a duke or duchess. Each title carries a different formal address:o Queens and kings are addressed as "Your Majesty." Introduce them as "Her Majesty the Queen" (not "Queen of England", as she is the "Queen of the United Kingdom", "Queen of Canada" and a long array of additional titles).o Princes and princesses are referred to "Your Royal Highness." Introduce them as "His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales." Any child or male line grandchild of a monarch is considered a prince or princess. The spouse of a prince is also a princess, although she is not always "Princess" HerFirstName. The spouse of a princess is not always a prince. Great-grandchildren in the male line of the monarch are not considered princes or princesses. Use the courtesy titles lord or lady for these personages, addressing them as, for example, "Lady Jane" and introducing them as "Lady Jane Windsor" (unless they have a different title of their own).o Dukes and Duchesses are called "Your Grace" or "Duke/Duchess." Introduce the duke to someone else as "His Grace the Duke of Norfolk," the duchess as "Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk".o Baronets and knights, if male, are addressed as "Sir Ralph" (if his name is Ralph Sweet) and his wife is "Lady Sweet". You would introduce him using his full name, "Sir Ralph Sweet," and his wife as "Lady Sweet."o Dames (the equivalent of knighthood for women - there is no female equivalent of baronetcy) are "Dame Gertrude" in conversation, and you would introduce her as "Dame Gertrude Mellon."o Other forms of nobility (including Marquess/Marchioness, Earl/Countess, Viscount/Viscountess, Baron/Baroness) are generally addressed as, "Lord or Lady Towlebridge" (for the Earl of Towlebridge), and introduced with their appropriate title, such as "Viscount Sweet" or "Baroness Rivendell".3) The order of precedence in British royalty and aristocracy is as follows, from highest to lowest:a. King/Queenb. Prince/Princessc. Duke/Duchessd. Marquess/Marchionesse. Earl/Countessf. Viscount/Viscountessg. Baron/Baronessh. Baroneti. Knight/Dame4) The person's own expressed preference about how they would like to be addressed overrides the general rules.Important historical tidbits:George I (1714-27) was magnificently unsuited to rule England. He spoke not a word of English, and his slow, pedantic nature did not sit well with the English. One of the results of George's inability or disinterest in ruling the English was that he handed over his authority to trusted politicians. This marked the origin of the office of the Prime Minister and the cabinet system of government.The Old Pretender. The year following George's arrival saw a landing in Scotland by the "Jacobite" supporters of James Stuart, son of James II. This rising was easily defeated and James, later called The Old Pretender, fled to France once more.The South Sea Bubble. The Duke of Marlborough's successes in the War of the Spanish Succession had been gained on credit, without monies granted, and the government was badly in debt. The South Sea Company was created to absorb the debt. It was little more than a paper company, founded through bribery of government officials and royals. The idea was that the whole of the 31 million national debt could be converted into company stock. Speculation went sky high and the stock became grossly inflated. Inevitably, the stock crashed, bringing down the government and bankrupting investors.After the "South Sea Bubble" burst, finances were put firmly in the hands of the Bank of England, with the result that the English economy became the best managed in Europe over the next several centuries.George II (1727-60) continued the Hanoverian rule. Early in his reign (1736) John Wesley began preaching in England. The subsequent Wesleyan societies and later Methodist churches acted as a conservative deterrent to the tide of social unrest and political radicalism that swept much of Europe during the 18th century.The Bonnie Prince. In 1745, the Young Pretender, Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed in Scotland. There he built support, and bolstered by early successes, marched into England.Instead of the popular uprising he had counted on, he met apathy. Although he reached as far south as Derby, indecisive leadership and lack of popular support meant that Charles had little option but to retreat into Scotland. There he was eventually brought to bay at Culloden Moor, near Inverness, where the Stuart cause finally ended in slaughter. Charles himself escaped to the Isle of Skye and eventually to France, where he ended his life a pathetic drunkard.It has been said that "Life in early Georgian England was stable, placid, and self-satisfied". This accounts in part for the failure of the Stuarts to raise support for the '15 and '45 rebellions. Despite the Stuart rebellion, the years between 1720-1780 were remarkable for their social stability. This stability was founded upon a system that depended upon the exercise of influence and put the interests of landowners first.The British Museum. On a happier note, 1753 saw the founding of the British Museum. To the private collections of Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Robert Cotton were added the library of the earls of Oxford and the old Royal library founded by Henry VII. The museum was originally stored in Montagu House, purchased with the proceeds of a public lottery. By the mid 19th century the collection had outgrown Montagu House, so it was torn down and the present building erected under the supervision of Sir Robert Smirke.The Seven Year's War. England then embarked upon the Seven Years War with France (1755-63). England was victorious just about everywhere, gaining territory in Canada, Florida, Grenada, Senegal, and in America east of the Mississippi.Success in India. Overseas, the East India Company had established trading posts at Calcutta and Madras. From there they fought with the French for trade supremacy in India. Under Robert Clive ("Clive of India"), the English defeated a combined Indian and French force at Plassey in 1757, and the subcontinent was open to a monopoly by the East India Company.Unlike his grandfather, George III (1760-1820) could at least speak the language of the country he ruled, but he was troubled by periods of insanity that rendered him unfit to rule. Several times Parliament considered putting his son (imaginatively named George also) on the throne, only to have the king recover his faculties before the deed was done.George III's reign saw the loss of the American colonies in the American Revolution (1775-83). Closer to home the Gordon Riots of 1780 began as a protest against the spectre of Catholic emancipation and ended with London in the hands of an uncontrollable mob for three days of rioting and violence.In 1799 the United Irishmen rebelled on behalf of Irish autonomy, but they were defeated at Vinegar Hill. Two years later Ireland was officially unified with Great Britain to form the United Kingdom. In the meantime the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) with France occupied centre stage. Fighting was sporadic, punctuated by English naval victories at the Battle of the Nile (1798) and Trafalgar (1805), where England's one-armed naval commander, Horatio Nelson, died in action. On land the armies under the control of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, gradually pushed Napoleon out of the Iberian peninsula and brought him to bay at Waterloo, near Brussels, Belgium.The Luddite Protests. Industrial unrest grew as new machines threw manual labourers out of work. Agitators known as Luddites (after their imaginary leader, Ned Ludd), broke into factories and smashed machinery in an attempt to preserve their jobs. It was a vain attempt. The advantages of the new steam-driven machines were only too clear, at least to the factory owners.The Early Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution intensified class distinctions. Under the Enclosure Acts of the late 18th century wealthy landowners built large farms and introduced improved farming methods. This meant that fewer agricultural workers were needed, so most moved to the towns and became the work force of the Industrial Revolution.Social Unrest. Contrary to expectation the end of the Napoleonic Wars brought economic disaster, depression, and mass unemployment. The Corn Law of 1815 excluded foreign grain temporarily, which had the effect of driving up prices. Agitation for social reform grew. The government's response to the agitation was repression, and in 1819 at Peterloo, near Manchester, protests were answered by armed force, resulting in several dead and hundreds injured. This "Peterloo Massacre" was followed by the repressive Six Acts, aimed at squashing dissent.One result of these government moves was the "Cato Street Conspiracy", a rather far-fetched plot to assassinate the whole cabinet, occupy the Bank of England, and establish a new government. The plot was stopped, and when the details became known many moderates turned away from the reformers' cause.The Regency. It finally became clear that George III was no longer fit to rule, and his son was established as Prince Regent (1810-20). "Prinnie", as he was called by his intimates, was an impulsive, Bacchanalian character, given to extravagance and excess.However, some of his excesses have become national treasures, such as the Brighton Pavilion, a ludicrously appealing taste of the Far East on the Channel coast. On a personal level the Prince Regent had several mistresses, one of whom, Mrs.Fitzherbert, he is alleged to have secretly married. An underground passage links the Brighton Pavilion with her house close by.When the Prince Regent finally became king (1820-30), he was at the centre of a public relations fiasco when he tried to prevent his estranged wife, Caroline, from attending the Coronation. Then came a messy and unsuccessful divorce trial, where Caroline came out much the better in popular opinion than the king.Peel. Under the government of Robert Peel a move began towards legal and social reform. Peel was responsible for the establishment of the first regular police force in London, nicknamed "Peelers" or "Bobbies" after him. The new Corn Law of 1828 relaxed tariffs on foreign grain, and the Catholic Emancipation Bill (1829) gave Catholics the right to vote, sit in Parliament, and hold public office.Following years saw the beginning of electoral reform. The abuses of previous generations had created a system which was ludicrously unfair and corrupt by modern standards. Voters' qualifications were different in different areas. Some "Pocket boroughs" returned whoever the local magnate nominated. Some "rotten boroughs" had as many members of Parliament as there were electors. This situation was slow to change.The reign of George's brother, William IV (1830-37), was followed by that of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Only 18 when she came to the throne, Victoria oversaw England at the height of its overseas power. The British Empire was established in her reign, and it reached its greatest expanse under her. Before moving on to the Victorian Age, however, let's take a closer look at Georgian life and personalities.Lifestyle:The country house became very popular during this time for members of the noble and aristocratic classes. These houses were not merely homes, they were mansions in the English countryside. The people who lived there indulged in a number of activities from gambling to the debate of politics (The duchess of Cavendish even campaigned for the Whig party during this time). It was a time of balls and merry making (think of movies like The Duchess).The climate of life in England during the Georgian era was well depicted in the literary works of such writers as Jane Austen and Henry Fielding. As mentioned earlier, the Georgian era was also a period of great architectural accomplishments as exemplified by the works of Robert Adam, John Nash and James Wyatt. It was also notable for being the era that gave birth to the Gothic Revival Style.Elsewhere in the field of visual art, the fast changing cultural atmosphere of the Georgian era was readily apparent in the paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. These artists, as well as the landscape designer Capability Brown, played a large part in preserving the imagery of life in the Georgian period through their various accomplishments.The Georgian era was also significant in the social sense in that it was the era in which the Industrial Revolution was born. The Industrial Revolution of course had a large part in increasing and further defining class divisions in English society and the development of the rival political parties, the Tories and the Whigs.The rural areas in England also experienced their own sweeping changes and this gave rise to the Agricultural Revolution, which affected the movements of large numbers of people and directly influenced the increasing decline of many small communities. This period also saw the rapid growth of many cities and it was then that the integrated transportation system had its earliest beginnings.Ironically in this period of rapid urban development, the Georgian period also saw the widespread emigration of large groups of people to Canada, the United States colonies and other places in the British Empire. This phenomenon was largely due to the decrease in the number of rural communities and the subsequent scarcity of available work.These conditions and many others necessitated the social reform actions of politicians such as Robert Peel, William Wilberforce, and Thomas Clarkson along with many others and brought about many significant changes in slavery, prison reform and social justice.