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GEORGE V

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 746 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GEORGE V., king of Hanover (1819–1878), was the only son of Ernest Augustus, king of Hanover and duke of Cumberland, and consequently a grandson of the English king George III. Born in Berlin on the 27th of May 1819, his youth was passed in England and in Berlin until 1837, when his father became king of Hanover and he took up his residence in that country. He lost the sight of one eye during a childish illness, and the other by an accident in 1833. Being thus totally blind there were doubts whether he was qualified to succeed to the government of Hanover; but his father decided that he should do so, as the law of the dissolved empire only excluded princes who were born blind. This decision was a fatal one to the dynasty. Both from his father and from his maternal uncle, Charles Frederick, prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1785–1837), one of the most influential men at the Prussian court, George had learned to take a very high and autocratic view of royal authority. His blindness prevented him from acquiring the shrewdness and knowledge of the world which had assisted his father, and he easily fell into the hands of unwise, and perhaps dishonest and disloyal, advisers. A man of deep religious feeling, he formed a fantastic conception of the place assigned to the house of Guelph in the divine economy, and had ideas of founding a great Guelph state in Europe. It is, therefore, not surprising that from the time of his accession in November 1851 he was constantly engaged in disputes with his Landtag or parliament, and was consequently in a weak and perilous position when the crisis in the affairs of Germany came in 1866. Having supported Austria in the diet of the German confederation in June x866, he refused, contrary to the wishes of his parliament, to assent to the Prussian demand that Hanover should observe an unarmed neutrality during the war. As a result his country and his capital were at once occupied by the Prussians, to whom his army surrendered on the 29th of June 1866, and in the following September Hanover was formally annexed by Prussia. From his retreat at Hietzing near Vienna, George appealed in vain to the powers of Europe; and supported by a large number of his subjects, an agitation was carried on which for a time caused some embarrassment to Prussia. All these efforts, however, to bring about a restoration were unavailing, and the king passed the remainder of his life at Gmtinden in Austria, or in France, refusing to the last to be reconciled with the Prussian government. Whilst visiting Paris for medical advice he died in that city on the 12th of June 1878, and was buried in St George's chapel, Windsor. In February 1843 he had married Marie, daughter of Joseph, duke of Saxe-Altenburg, by whom he left a son and two daughters. His son, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland (b. 1845), continued to maintain the claim of his house to the kingdom of Hanover. By the capitulation of 1866 the king was allowed to retain his personal property, which included money and securitiesequal to nearly £1i5oo,000, which had been sent to England before the Prussian invasion of Hanover. The crown jewels had also been secretly conveyed to England. His valuable plate, which had been hidden at Herrenhausen, was restored to him in 1867; his palace at Herrenhausen, near Hanover, was reserved as his property; and in 1867 the Prussian government agreed to compensate him for the loss of his landed estates, but owing to his continued hostility the payment of the interest on this sum was suspended in the following year (see HANOVER). See O. Klopp, Konig Georg V. (Hanover, 1878) ; O. Theodor, Erinnerungen an Georg V. (Bremerhaven, 1878) ; and O. Meding, Memoiren zur Zeitgeschichte (Leipzig, 1881-1884).
End of Article: GEORGE V
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