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British history

Georgian Britain

The horse-drawn seed drill, invented in 1701The horse-drawn seed drill, invented in 1701 In 1714, a dynasty of kings from Hanover in Germany took the throne in Britain: the first of them was George I, who spoke no English. The Hanoverians came from a landlocked country (the state of Hanover had no coastline) with no parliament, so found Britain a strange and foreign island. Despite these handicaps, they worked hard to learn British ways. Under the six Hanoverian monarchs, Britain became the world’s first industrial country and built a worldwide empire. The country prospered and became the most powerful in the world.

King George I (ruled 1714–27)King George I (ruled 1714–27)

The Hanoverian succession

In 1701, the English parliament passed the Act of Settlement. This stated that if Anne, the heir to the throne, had no surviving children herself, the throne would pass to her distant German relative, the Protestant Electress of Hanover, Sophia. When Sophia died in 1714, the succession passed to her son George. Queen Anne died childless later the same year, so George became the first Hanoverian king of England and Scotland as George I.

Britain’s youngest ever prime minister was William Pitt the Younger, who took office in 1783 at the age of 24. A songwriter at the time described Britain as “a kingdom trusted to a schoolboy’s care”.

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