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Tony Grist

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What The Hereditary Principle Did For Us: British Monarchs Since The Tudors [May. 22nd, 2014|04:52 pm]
Tony Grist
George VI: a weak, silly man with a stammer.
Edward VIII: an irresponsible playboy with fascist sympathies who had to be gotten rid of.
George V: dull, stupid, stiff and arrogant.
Edward VII: a bit of a dark horse. Unpromising material but rather effective in office.
Victoria: suffered from clinical depression for much of her reign. Iconic in old age as the Widow of Windsor (a triumph of the spin doctor's art.)
William IV: who?
George IV: playboy and wastrel- a national embarrassment.
George III: terribly dull, periodically mad.
George II: very German.
George I: completely German. And nasty with it.
Anne: supremely dull figurehead of a golden age. The least inspirational of British Queens.
William and Mary: at least they weren't James II.
James II: stupid, charmless autocrat who had to leave in a hurry.
Charles II: our first constitutional monarch, intelligent, witty and politically able.
Charles I: stupid, charmless autocrat who tore the country apart and lost his head.
James I:  the wisest fool in Christendom. Famous for slobbering and persecuting witches.
Elizabeth I:  Gloriana!
Mary: famous for burning people.
Edward VI: died young.
Henry VIII: authentically monstrous. The British Stalin.
Henry VII: a Machiavel- cold, efficient; brought the middle ages to a juddering halt.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2014-05-22 04:22 pm (UTC)

OK bearing in mind it's a different perspective

There was a good show on recently about all the Georges. Lucy Worsley was doing it and we're fans of hers in our household :) Mad George actually seemed by far the most civilised of the lot.

George V did try hard to sort out the Home Rule question and calm down some of the acrimony between the parties. That said, I wouldn't have him at the dinner table, he was a bit of an authoritarian killjoy as you say. Doesn't mean he was a bad monarch though.

Victoria sending the people of Ireland the total sum of £5 for famine relief in the 1840s was not a good look.

I feel a bit bad on George VI's behalf though - a disability is not a character defect.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 04:32 pm (UTC)

Re: OK bearing in mind it's a different perspective

Not a character defect- but would you choose a shy, stammering man as your war leader? Fortunately he had Churchill to hide behind.

I may have been unfair to George V

Victoria was a terrible Queen. She was lucky in her husband, Prime Ministers and propagandists. Mostly she just sat on her arse and felt sorry for herself.

George III was a decent man- but still- in Shelley's phrase "an old, mad, blind, despised and dying king." Pretty devastating, eh?
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2014-05-22 04:35 pm (UTC)

Re: OK bearing in mind it's a different perspective

Yeah, it's amazing that poem is so fresh even though the events are about 170 years ago...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 04:37 pm (UTC)

Re: OK bearing in mind it's a different perspective

I love how the romantics ripped into the Georges.
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[User Picture]From: craftyailz
2014-05-22 04:36 pm (UTC)
Don't forget the thought that Victoria was, like a lot of her male relatives, sex mad and wore poor Albert out - and it was, possibly, what made her so depressed
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 04:41 pm (UTC)
The Hanoverians were a pretty unimpressive lot...

Albert was remarkable: a talented, dedicated, hard-working man. I think he wore himself out.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 05:53 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, all the Tudors burned people but, being a protestant country, we make as if Mary was the only one.

I believe- I could be wrong- that Henry VIII once had a catholic and a lollard chained back to back so they they could argue as the burned.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 06:00 pm (UTC)
Maybe it was the syphilis or the jousting wound or whatever...

I don't know, he started off as such a gifted, glamorous renaissance prince and then something soured him.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 06:09 pm (UTC)
Yes.

Also, like Stalin, he succumbed to paranoia.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 06:20 pm (UTC)
Paranoia is a disease of power. You'd have to be pretty robust not to succumb. And foolish not to succumb a little. Every throne is insecure. There are always plotters.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-22 06:05 pm (UTC)
I stopped at the Tudors because I can't go any further back without consulting wikipedia.

Up until Richard III kings had a simple choice- be a successful war lord or get a red hot poker up the arse. Some of those guys were pretty impressive on their own terms, but every single one of them was a monster.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2014-05-22 07:13 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be so charitable about Charles II. Pepys was initially hopeful about him but was horrified by the goings on and the massive spending at court, and how poorly Charles treated his Queen. He was just another rabid playboy and had scant regard for the feelings of the people who had chopped his Dad's head off, endured a civil war, and seen off a republican dictator, and really wanted someone calm and rational.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-23 06:42 am (UTC)
I admire Charles simply for surviving- and for inventing the constitutional monarchy- making it up as he went along. Also he founded the Royal Society. The short career of James II demonstrates what could have happened if Charles had been a little less canny.

My view may well have been influenced by Rose Tremain's Restoration where (in the imagination of the Pepysian narrator) he appears as a godlike figure.
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