George III is generally remembered for going insane and losing the American colonies. Yet, this alone hardly does justice to his story. Born in London in 1738, George was a highly educated emperor who believed defending Britain's interests his primary duty. This was the reason he opposed American independence in the 1770s. It also explained his later opposition to the French Revolution, a stance that made him popular with his subjects.
America and France
Although Britain lost the Revolutionary War under George III, his role in this defeat was actually very small. The policies that led to the American Revolution came out of Parliament, not from the king. Still, he was deeply affected by the loss and almost abdicated. Nonetheless, he found the temerity to oppose Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he viewed as a threat to European security. It was his stance towards France that later enabled his son, King George IV, to defeat Napoleon.
Later Life and Legacy
In the late 1770s, George began to have mental breakdowns. His condition became permanent in 1810, and George IV assumed power as Regent. The king died 10 years later, but not without bequeathing a rich legacy to England. In 1768, he established the Royal Academy of Arts with his own money. He was also behind the creation of a royal library and observatory. After his death, his 65,000 volumes went to the British Museum and many of his scientific instruments were given to London's Science Museum.
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