George IV (The English Monarchs Series)

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9780300076851: George IV (The English Monarchs Series)

This engrossing biography of George IV, king of England from 1820 to 1830, reassesses the role of this colorful ruler as constitutional monarch. E. A. Smith provides a full and objective account of the monarch's character, reputation, and achievement, revealing that despite his faults George made important contributions in politics and as a patron of the arts.

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About the Author:

E. A. Smith was reader in history at the University of Reading and the author of A Queen on Trial: The Affair of Queen Caroline, among other books.

From Kirkus Reviews:

This cautious revisionist history of the youth, regency, and reign of one of the most despised English kings tries to show, in the words of a royal retainer, that George IV's ``abilities were far, very far, above mediocrity.'' The future George IV (17621830) and his siblings were raised in virtual isolation. George, as prince of Wales, angered his father, George III, by falling in with the libertine, high-living, morally dissolute Whigs under Charles James Fox and the duchess of Devonshire. An overdressed, free-spending dandy, the prince cut a swath among fawning actresses and parvenus while running up enormous debts. The prince spent a fortune to transform the run-down Carlton House in London into the gaudiest domicile in the realm. To enjoy his secret marriage to the widowed Mrs. Fitzherbert, a Catholic and commoner, the prince ran up greater debts rebuilding and enlarging the Brighton Pavillion, where he also played soldier with his personal regiment. He agreed to marry Caroline of Brunswicka woman he found so distasteful on their first meeting that he hid his face and demanded a brandyin exchange for his father paying his debts. For the next two decades, from 1811, when the prince assumed control of the throne as regent during his father's final bout of madness, until he died in 1830 after a ten-year reign as George IV, he presided over the most stylish and flamboyant period in British history for the hundred or so aristocrats who could afford it. Smith, the author of four English histories (Wellington and the Arthbutnots, not reviewed, etc.), shows that the king's numerous political enemies used his profligate spending, as well as his cruel treatment of Queen Caroline, to blacken a legacy that also included distinctive buildings and public works, generous sponsorship of the arts and literature, and a taste for lavish display. More a historical summary than a biography, Smith's occasionally tedious if sympathetic account portrays a king's grand indulgences as decorative flourishes of a darker political era. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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