Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

George III: America's Last King

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

George III: America's Last King

Article excerpt

George III: America's Last King. By Jeremy Black. The English Monarchs Series. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, Pp. xvi, 475. $35.00.)

Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas seeker remembered of George HI at his coronation that

At the Communion the King asked me if he should not take off his crown. I said the Office did not mention it. He asked, if it would not be more suitable to such an Act of Religion. I said, Yes, but the Queen's crown could not be taken off easily. He asked what must be done. I said, as Ladies heads are used to be covered, it would not be regarded. He put off his crown immediately; and all the peers, that saw it, took off their coronets.

The passage captures nicely the character of the monarch who is the subject of this authoritative and exhaustive biography. George was sincerely and humbly religious, something of a naïve idealist, an essentially simple man who could, in the midst of the ceremonial of his coronation still confer with the archbishop on a small but to him religiously significant point of practice. He was extremely diligent in the performance of his duties, but perhaps there is the hint here as well of a punctiliousness that could be expressed as obstinacy. All in all, however, here are the makings of a monarch who might be respectfully remembered as the good and popular king he was in his lifetime, were it not that he is lodged in the founding mythology of the United States as the villain of the Declaration of Independence, a man indicted as the sole source of the abuses suffered by the American colonists at the hands of the British.

Jeremy Black comprehensively brings to life the real man behind the myth, his talents and successes as well as his weaknesses and failures. Despite his inexhaustible commitment to his constitutional role in government, George also managed to be a devoted family man, a knowledgeable patron of the arts and sciences (the American historical painter Benjamin West, Dr. …

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