George IV

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George IV,

1762–1830, king of Great Britain and Ireland (1820–30), eldest son and successor of George III. In 1785 he married Maria Anne FitzherbertFitzherbert, Maria Anne,
1756–1837, wife of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV). He was her third husband. The marriage (1785) was illegal by the terms of the Royal Marriage Act (1772) and the Act of Settlement (1701), since the prince was under age and Mrs.
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, a Roman Catholic. The marriage was illegal, however; and in 1795, to secure parliamentary settlement of his enormous debts, he made a political marriage with Caroline of BrunswickCaroline of Brunswick,
1768–1821, consort of George IV of England. The daughter of Charles William Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, she married George (then prince of Wales) in 1795.
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. In constant and open opposition to his father, George associated closely with the Whigs, particularly Charles James FoxFox, Charles James,
1749–1806, British statesman and orator, for many years the outstanding parliamentary proponent of liberal reform. He entered Parliament in 1768 and served as lord of the admiralty (1770–72) and as lord of the treasury (1772–74) under
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, whose friend he became in 1781. As a result, when George III had his first serious fit of insanity in 1788–89, the Tory William PittPitt, William,
1759–1806, British statesman; 2d son of William Pitt, 1st earl of Chatham. Trained as a lawyer, he entered Parliament in 1781 and in 1782 at the age of 23 became chancellor of the exchequer under Lord Shelburne.
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 proposed that the regency vested in the prince be closely restricted (to prevent George bringing his Whig friends to power), while Fox, usually the opponent of royal prerogative, wanted the prince to have unlimited powers as regent. In 1811, after the king had become permanently incapacitated, George became regent on terms very similar to those proposed by Pitt in 1788. However, when the limitations on his power to make appointments and spend crown revenues were removed in 1812, the prince regent retained most of his father's ministers, breaking his connection with the Whigs. The Tories, under the leadership of the 2d earl of LiverpoolLiverpool, Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2d earl of,
1770–1828, English statesman. He was elected to Parliament as a Tory in 1790 and succeeded his father to the peerage in 1808.
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 for most of the period, remained entrenched in power throughout the regency and George's subsequent reign. As regent and as king, George was hated for his extravagance and dissolute habits, and he aroused particular hostility by an unsuccessful attempt, immediately after his accession (1820) to the throne, to divorce his long-estranged wife, Caroline. During his reign the monarchy lost a significant amount of power. George's only legitimate child, Charlotte Augusta, married (1816) Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (later Leopold I, king of the Belgians) but died in childbirth in 1817. George was succeeded by his brother William IV. See RegencyRegency,
in British history, the period of the last nine years (1811–20) of the reign of George III, when the king's insanity had rendered him unfit to rule and the government was vested in the prince of Wales (later George IV) as regent.
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.

Bibliography

See biographies by R. Fulford (rev. ed. 1949, repr. 1963) and C. Hibbert (2 vol., 1974–75); S. David, Prince of Pleasure (1999).

George IV

1762--1830, king of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover (1820--30); regent (1811--20). His father (George III) disapproved of his profligate ways, which undermined the prestige of the crown, and of his association with the Whig opposition