Madness, Monarchy and Politics from George III to Queen Victoria

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.

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