British History: Hanoverian Era

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13287

It's also called the Georgian Era because 4 Georges ruled during this time. England expanded its empire, the Industrial Revolution changed everyone's lives, and Charles Dickens wrote his great books!


Foreign, World

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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England's King George I was from Germany and could not even speak English.

  • Do you think it would be difficult to rule a country if you couldn't speak the language?
  • Do you think something like the scene in the following video may have occurred?

The 4 King Georges | Compilation | Horrible Histories from Horrible Histories:

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The House of Hanover ruled England from 1714 to 1901.

These were years of great change for Britain as England expanded its empire and the Industrial Revolution changed how many people lived.

The rulers of this era are easy to remember: Four Georges, a William, and then Victoria.

In this lesson, we'll talk about the Georges and William. Victoria has her own Related Lesson found in the right-hand sidebar.

In 1701, Parliament passed the Act of Settlement, which said no Catholic could rule England. So when Queen Anne died in 1714, Parliament passed over 50 of Anne's relatives as potential successors, simply because they were Catholic!

Parliament turned to Germany to find a Protestant king to rule England, and so began the reign of the Hanoverian kings.

The Georges (George I, George II, George III, and George IV)

Use the slider beneath the images to view all four kings:

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Now for a less formal introduction!

Meet the four Georges, courtesy of Horrible Histories, in another segment from The 4 King Georges | Compilation:

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First Prime Minister

As you saw in the first video segment, George I was not much interested in governing England. He appointed Britain's first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and allowed him to do much of the work.

Robert Walpole, 1740

Image [cropped] by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Walpole served under George I and George II and was given the property at 10 Downing Street, which has been the home of the British Prime Minister ever since!

10 Downing Street

Image by Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the OGL v1.0 license.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

The first two King Georges were considered foreigners by many, and there were several attempts to put someone else on the throne. The Scottish, especially, wanted to restore the line of King James, the Catholic king.

Learn about one of the rebellions in Who Was Bonnie Prince Charlie? | Expedition Unknown from Discovery:

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George III and George IV

By the time George III came along, the Hanoverians had become more English and were more accepted.

George III ruled for 60 years, longer than any other English king. He's often depicted as mad (crazy), as seen in the Horrible Histories video. While he did have periods of mental illness in his later years, overall his reign was stable and, for the most part, successful. He took his duties seriously and wanted to be a good king.

The 18th century was an age of exploration. In those times, rulers often thought that if they landed on a "new" territory, they had the right to claim it as their own even though other people may have lived there for centuries!

England established colonies in North America, and then lost them during the American Revolution. George III is often seen as the stubborn and foolish king who failed to see that the colonists in the New World were going to revolt against him.

He desperately wanted to hang on to his empire, and he hated the idea of the colonies being disobedient to the crown. Many in England felt going to war against the colonies was wasted effort, but George III couldn't bear to let their rebellion stand. As you probably know, the Americans did win their independence!

George III had better luck with Australia. He made it part of the Empire, and it still remains part of the UK to this day. Though Australia governs itself, it's considered one of the lands owned by the Queen.

In 1793, Britain got into another war, this time with France. To raise more money for the war, George III raised taxes. After this, he began to be become more and more unpopular with the people.

During George III's periods of mental illness, his son, George IV, reigned as his regent. This is known as the Regency Period.

George III loved and promoted science, art, and music. He was very devoted to his wife and 15 children and bought Buckingham Palace (shown at the top of this lesson) for Queen Charlotte. It was called the Queen's House and has since become one of the most well-known residences of the Royal Family.

George III's son, George IV, took over after his death. George IV is known for drinking, overeating, overspending, and just indulging himself in every way possible!

The British people considered him to be uncaring about them and their struggles, and Parliament considered him to be useless!

William IV

William IV, 1833

Image [cropped] by Martin Archer Shee, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

George IV's daughter, Charlotte, died young and so his brother, William IV, succeeded him. William had been in the Navy since age 13, so he became known as the Sailor King.

William believed in living simply, not in luxury as George IV did, so he was well-liked by the people. He also ended slavery in England and its colonies.

William had no surviving children, so his niece, Victoria, succeeded him.

The Industrial Revolution

  • Can you imagine what it was like to make all your own clothes, grow all your own food, and make just about everything that you used on a daily basis?

During the years from 1760 to 1840, a great change took place in Europe and America. Machines started to take over a lot of the work that people had done before. The machines saved a lot of time!

Although a lot of time was saved and many people grew rich by owning factories, the Industrial Revolution brought many problems as well. The cities became very crowded, and many poor people (including children) worked very long hours for very low wages.

The following video tells about the great changes that happened during this time.

Industrial Revolution for Kids - A simple yet comprehensive overview from Clarendon Learning:

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Homes and Daily Life

The rich of the 18th century England had large estates and enjoyed fancy parties, elegant clothes, and fine feasts.

The women had some very strange (to us) ideas of beauty! Watch Horrible Histories - Gorgeous Georgians | Compilation:

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Their houses were formal and elegant and had a lot of windows. This is a house in the Georgian style:

English country manor mansion

  • Why did they have so many windows?

The government put a tax on windows, so to have a lot of windows showed that you were very wealthy and could afford to pay the tax!

The poor could not afford to have windows, so many people covered their windows to avoid paying the tax.

These years were very hard on the poor, who had long, difficult days at work. Even children as young as five had to go to work. Even with most of the family working, many poor people struggled to survive. Food and rent prices went up, while wages went down.

Many lived in unclean conditions in crowded cities (the population of London almost doubled from 1700 to 1800). This caused diseases to spread quickly. So disease, along with the lack of proper food and clean water, caused many deaths during these years.


Two famous English authors lived during this time: Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

Charles Dickens witnessed and experienced a lot of the problems of the working people. He wrote many books showing the reality of life at this time and drawing attention to the suffering of the poor.

  • What was so special about Charles Dickens?

Why should you read Charles Dickens? - Iseult Gillespie from TED-Ed:

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Unlike Dickens, Jane Austen wrote novels with upper-class characters.

Her stories are full of wise and humorous insights into how people of the time behaved, and they showed that love and family relationships were more important than money and status.

Now that you've learned all about the Hanoverian era, move on to the Got It? section, where you'll test your knowledge of its famous people and do some research on life during the Industrial Revolution!

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