Why did George I, a German, become King of England?
September 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
I called in at the National Portrait Gallery today and went up to the top floor, the old stuff. Here’s what I discovered about one bit of King and Queen history (for those of you interested but too busy at work to look into this for yourselves).
This is a picture of Henry, Prince of Wales, King James I’s elder son, painted by Robert Peake the Elder, who seems to have been the big portrait man in James’s Court.
Henry didn’t always get on with his dad, who sounds a bit serious when it came to his son’s learning. Apparently, Henry was popular, witty and so on, and his dad felt a bit threatened by this. Sometimes Henry looked like this:
Henry died aged 18, probably of typhoid, in 1612. James didn’t go to his son’s funeral because, well, he didn’t like funerals. This left younger son, Charles, as James’s successor – and we all know how that ended.
James had another child, Elizabeth. Here she is, aged about nine in 1606, again painted by Mr Peake.
Elizabeth went on to marry Frederick, who was briefly King of Bohemia, but ended up in exile in Holland. She died in 1662, while visiting her newly restored nephew, Charles II. In between, she had a daughter, Sophia, who was the mother of George I. Under the English Act of Settlement of 1701*, the succession was settled on Sophia and her issue, so that all monarchs of Great Britain are descendants of Elizabeth – i.e. THE GIRL.
And here’s a more racy picture of her, by Nicholas Hilliard.
* After Queen Anne failed to produce an heir (poor woman had 18 miscarriages), there was seen to be a need for a new law that would guarantee that the line of succession would continue in the Protestant line, and excluding any possible claims by the deposed James II or his Catholic son and daughter.