Author: R. S. Taylor Stoermer

a Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Fellow and Instructor in Public History, at Harvard University

George I (1660–1727)

George I was king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 until his death in 1727, and of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (also known as Hanover, after its capital), in present-day northern Germany, from 1698 until his death. The first of three Hanoverian monarchs in Britain, George I gained the throne after several royal deaths and a newly established accession order intended to secure a Protestant monarchy. He never fully learned to speak English and instead conducted government affairs mostly in French and his native German. His frequent trips to Hanover, as well as his controversial treatment of his ex-wife, caused many to scorn the foreign king. In the colonies, however, his reign was more applauded. Although the development of the British constitution by 1714 ensured that George I had little direct involvement in Virginia affairs, his almost thirteen years on the throne came during several defining developments in the colony’s history: the transformation from indentured servitude to slavery as the primary source of plantation labor, the shift from sweet-scented to Oronoco tobacco as the dominant tobacco crop, and the beginning of what historians have called the “golden age” of Virginia politics. All of these developments can be attributed to the broader policies and people George I had at least a modest role in promoting. Historians often cite the peaceful royal succession following his sudden death in 1727 as his most significant legacy.