Madness, Monarchy and Politics in Georgian Britain

Module code: HS2307

In November, 1788, a story circulated that George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, had shaken hands with the branch of a tree, believing it to be the King of Prussia. Was George insane? What did ‘madness’ mean to the 18th century mind?

This opens up central questions about ‘madness’, monarchy and politics. You’ll investigate the king’s case in detail, and consider the larger question of how ‘lunacy’ was understood during the 18th century. You’ll then question how the treatment of a ‘mad’ person paralleled that of a sane monarch, and what this implied for the government of Britain then – and now.


  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 20 hours of seminars
  • 5 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 115 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 2,000 words (50%)
  • Essay, 2,000 words (50%)