George III was the third Hanoverian king of Great Britain. During his reign, Britain lost its American colonies but emerged as a leading power in Europe. He suffered from recurrent fits of madness and after 1810, his son acted as regent.
George III was born on 4 June 1738 in London, son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. He became heir to the throne when his father died in 1751, succeeding his grandfather George II in 1760. He was the first Hanoverian monarch to use English as his first language. In 1761, George married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and they enjoyed a happy marriage, with 15 children.
George chose his mentor the Earl of Bute as his first chief minister. He was a poor choice, isolating George from senior politicians. Effective government became almost impossible, and George was increasingly vilified. The instability following Bute's resignation in 1763 did little to solve the crown's financial difficulties, made worse by the Seven Years' War. In 1770, George appointed Lord North as his first minister. Although an effective administrator, North's government was dominated by disagreements with the American colonists over British attempts to levy taxes on them. War began in 1775 and was prolonged in 1779, at the king's insistence, to prevent copycat protests elsewhere. The British defeat in 1781 prompted North to resign.
In 1783, North and the prominent Whig politician Fox formed a coalition government. Their plans to reform the East India Company gave George the chance to regain popularity. He forced the bill's defeat in Parliament, and the two resigned. In their place George appointed William Pitt the Younger. The combination of Pitt's skill and war with France in 1793 strengthened George's position, but disagreements over emancipation of the Catholics - Pitt was in favour and George vehemently opposed - led to Pitt's resignation in 1801.
The American war, its political aftermath and family quarrels put great strain on George. After serious bouts of illness in 1788 - 1789 and 1801, thought now to be caused by porphyria, he became permanently deranged in 1810. The Prince of Wales (later George IV) became regent.
George remained ill until his death at Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820. In 1801, under the Act of Union Great Britain and Ireland were united into a single nation - the United Kingdom. George was thus the first king of the new nation.
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