Anniversary Post: King George III

Conservative Ideal: King George IIIOn this day in 1760, George William Frederick became King George III. He is probably most notable for being king during the creation of the United Kingdom. But it is hard to take kings of this period forward all that seriously. From the 17th century onward, the monarchy lost more and more power. Certainly by the reign of William and Mary at the end of the 17th century, monarchs understood that their grasp of power was weak. And Parliament clearly had the power by the time of George III.

There has been much written about George over the years — much of it bad. But it doesn’t make much sense to me. Nothing would have been much different if someone else had been king. As it is, the man was crazy as a loon in 1788, which is depicted in The Madness of King George. And despite the way it might look in the film, he stayed crazy until his death in 1820. So for well over half his reign, he was insane, and the country did just fine.

I can’t help but quote my favorite line from the film, “Who can flourish on such a daily diet of compliance?” The monarchy exchanged the constant threat of death for the life of a much beloved pet. But even at the time of George, they still hadn’t fully accepted that idea. So they got compliance and maintained their delusions of power. But the truth is that had it come down to it, Parliament would have destroyed George III and the future George IV.

15 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: King George III

  1. My first exposure to George III outside of the stuff we were taught in school was his love of science and farming. “Farmer George” and he did support a lot of research into agriculture.

    The stuff I have read made me feel sad for him. Even though he was a jerk to his children and had a whole heap of other faults, no one should suffer the pain he went through during his periodic episodes of insanity and the “cures” that they inflicted on him. He did have lucid periods between 1788 and 1810. Some of which lasted for years but his insanity always returned and he never recovered after 1810.

    • I feel sorry for everyone. But he was treated wonderfully compared to insane people of that time who were not king.

      • Sure — one can both have sympathy for anyone born into that pressure cooker and anger how they had so little sympathy for others.

        Which makes me wonder — did anybody ever give up the crown? You know they did! For an American, baby! USA! USA!

        OK, mostly our country kinda does evil like every country with power does evil, but once in a while we rock it! Divorced gal wins “heart” of English king, stabbing at marriage nuts and royalty nuts both! USA!

        • This was a good thing by the way. Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathizer (although he was not the only family member who was, just the one who was in the worst spot.)

      • This is accurate. I am about halfway through The Man Who Made Lists: Love Death Madness And The Creation Of Rogets Thesaurus The Man Who Made Lists because I usually only read it when standing in a line and it discusses the treatment of Roget and his family with their severe problems with mental illness. Most of the women went insane but got to stay home in bed while also having to have children (Roget’s maternal grandmother had nine pregnancies while being pretty much completely insane.) However they were mostly middle class jewelers and physicians so they were able to accommodate the women’s insanity by keeping them at home.

        • The way we have traditionally treated the insane (or as Thomas Szasz would say, “weird”) has been terrible. I think it is better today but it is still bad.

          • Depends-since mass incarceration is how we deal with those who are poor and mentally ill. At least no one is put on display like they were back in his time.

            • There is less active torture. But a lot of them are just used for target practice by itchy police officers.

              • There is that. That happens around here periodically. And the city police are trying really hard to not have it happen-Arizona has some very weird government agencies that are pretty good. Then we have some that are…well, we all want to know how much Judge Snow is going to hit Arpaio with.

                • This is one area where I’m sympathetic to the police. It should not be their responsibility to deal with the mentally ill. As a society, our lack of care has been unconscionable.

                  • No they shouldn’t but the only agencies usually to get unlimited funds would be the police and fire department. So they usually are the only ones with the money to handle these things.

                    • Right — but police aren’t trained how to deal with people whose mental illness has become unmanageable. (Show me a person who isn’t a little bit mentally ill!) That’s where they respond with guns. It’s what they’re trained to do.

                      We could save so much money, not to mention reduce human suffering, if we adequately funded support systems for mental illness. (We could also have a society that caused less mental illness, but that’s another story.)

                      Instead, we “cut spending” on these important services and throw people in jail, which is such a waste of money it’s — no pun intended — insane. Also basically torture, which should never be accepted by a rational society.

                    • I agree on the issue of better funding for mental health and that it should not be the police.

                      However since the police are the only ones who get whatever they ask for, they (at least in my current county) are getting the assistance they need to deal with the problems that the mentally ill present.

                    • At least in California, the issue is simply that we don’t provide nearly enough funding to help the mentally ill.

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