George II


George II
1. 1683-1760, king of England 1727-60 (son of George I).
2. 1890-1947, king of Greece 1922-23 and 1935-47.

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I
Greek Georgios

born July 20, 1890, Tatoi, near Athens, Greece
died April 1, 1947, Athens

King of Greece (1922–24, 1935–47).

He became king when his father, Constantine I, was deposed in 1922, but the royal family was unpopular and George fled Greece in 1923. The National Assembly proclaimed Greece a republic in 1924. George remained in exile until the conservative Populist Party, with army support, gained control of the legislature and restored the monarchy in 1935. Ioannis Metaxas seized power in 1936 with the king's support. George was forced into exile in 1941 in World War II; republican sentiment threatened his throne, but he was restored by a plebiscite and returned to Greece in 1946.
II
orig. George Augustus German Georg August

born Nov. 10, 1683, Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover
died Oct. 25, 1760, London, Eng.

King of Great Britain and elector of Hanover (1727–60).

His father, the elector of Hanover, became George I of England; he succeeded him in both roles in 1727. He retained Robert Walpole as his key minister until 1742. His new minister, John Carteret (1690–1763), brought England into the War of the Austrian Succession, where George fought courageously at the Battle of Dettingen (1743), the last time a British king appeared on the battlefield. The parliament and ministers forced Carteret's resignation and the appointment of William Pitt. George lost interest in politics, and Pitt's strategy brought about a British victory in the Seven Years' War.

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▪ duke of Saxe-Meiningen

born April 2, 1826, Meiningen, Saxe-Meiningen [now in Germany]
died June 25, 1914, Bad Wildungen, Waldeck

      duke of Saxe-Meiningen, theatrical director and designer who developed many of the basic principles of modern acting and stage design.

      A wealthy aristocrat and head of a small German principality, Saxe-Meiningen (Meiningen Company) early studied art and in 1866 established his own court theatre group, which he served as producer, director, financial backer, and costume and scenery designer. Influenced by the contemporary English theatre, he insisted on realistic lighting, speech, and stage mechanics and historically accurate costumes and sets. He also replaced virtuoso solo performances on a flat stage with ensemble acting on a multilevel stage that greatly facilitated the handling of crowd scenes. When the group was disbanded in 1890, it had toured 36 European cities. The Meiningen troupe's methods had their effect upon the younger generation of European stage directors, particularly André Antoine, who founded the first theatre of naturalism (Théâtre-Libre, Paris, 1887), and Konstantin Stanislavsky, an influential proponent of realism in the Russian theatre.

▪ king of Great Britain
in full  George Augustus,  German  Georg August,  also called  (1706–27) marquess and duke of Cambridge  
born Nov. 10 [Oct. 30, Old Style], 1683, Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover
died Oct. 25, 1760, London
 king of Great Britain and elector of Hanover from 1727 to 1760. Although he possessed sound political judgment, his lack of self-confidence caused him to rely heavily on his ministers, most notable of whom was Sir Robert Walpole.

      George Augustus was the only son of the German prince George Louis, elector of Hanover (King George I of Great Britain from 1714 to 1727), and Sophia Dorothea of Celle. He grew up in Hanover and married (1705) the beautiful and intelligent Caroline of Ansbach. Upon the accession of his father to the English throne he was designated prince of Wales. By 1717 George I and his son, who had for years detested each other, were quarrelling openly. The prince's London residence, Leicester House, became the gathering place for a dissident Whig group headed by Walpole (Walpole, Robert, 1st earl of Orford) and Viscount Charles Townshend. The tepid reconciliation that took place between George I and the prince in 1720 led to the inclusion of Walpole in George I's administration, and Walpole lost the prince's favour when he became one of George I's leading ministers. The prince, upon his accession as George II, would have dismissed Walpole from office had not Caroline intervened on the minister's behalf.

      During the first two decades of his reign George II followed foreign and domestic developments closely. He supported Walpole's policy of peace and retrenchment and allowed the minister to use crown patronage to build up his majority in Parliament. Walpole won acknowledgment of George's legitimacy from many influential Tories who had been Jacobites—supporters of the exiled Stuart pretender to the English throne. Hence, no politician of prominence deserted George's cause during the abortive Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Nevertheless, opposition to George and Walpole grew as the pattern of George I's reign repeated itself: George II and his son Frederick Louis, prince of Wales, quarrelled, and the prince became a leader of an antiadministration faction. By 1742 these dissidents were strong enough to force Walpole to resign. George II quickly found another mentor in John Carteret (later Earl Granville), whose haughty ways proved unpopular in political circles. The two men brought England into the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48), and in doing so they gave their opponents an opportunity to charge them with subordinating the interests of England to the needs of George's German possessions. In November 1744 George bowed to parliamentary pressure and accepted Carteret's resignation. Fifteen months later the king's ministers, by resigning (temporarily) en masse, forced George to accept into office Carteret's chief opponent, William Pitt (later earl of Chatham).

      During the last decade of his life George II's interest in politics declined. He was little more than an observer of the events of the Seven Years' War (1756–63) against France, for it was Pitt who devised the brilliant strategy that eventually brought about a British victory. George died suddenly and was succeeded by his grandson (son of Frederick Louis) King George III.

      Throughout his life George II maintained a passion for anything military. He displayed courage while fighting the French at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743—the last time a British king appeared on the battlefield—and he organized each day with the precision of a drill sergeant. His other major interest was music; he loved opera and was a patron of the German composer George Frideric Handel.

Additional Reading
Charles Chenevix Trench, George II (1973).

▪ king of Greece

born July 20, 1890, Tatoi, near Athens, Greece
died April 1, 1947, Athens
 king of Greece from September 1922 to March 1924 and from October 1935 until his death. His second reign was marked by the ascendancy of the military dictator Ioannis Metaxas.

      The eldest son of King Constantine I, George was excluded from the succession during World War I for his allegedly pro-German sympathies, but he came to the throne when his father was deposed by General Nikólaos Plastíras in September 1922. Feeling ran high against the royal family, however, and, after a royalist coup d'état had been suppressed in October 1923, George felt compelled to leave Greece on December 19 with his queen, Elizabeth. In March 1924 the Greek National Assembly voted the end of the monarchy and proclaimed Greece a republic. The king remained in exile until the conservative Populist Party, with the support of the army, gained control of the Assembly and declared the restoration of the monarchy in October 1935; a plebiscite, which was most probably manipulated by the prime minister, General Geórgios Kondílis, was held in November in an effort to demonstrate that the great majority of the people favoured his return.

      In 1936 General Ioannis Metaxas (Metaxas, Ioannis) seized power after asserting that the nation was on the verge of being taken over by the communists. The king's support of Metaxas put the throne in a controversial position, particularly after Metaxas banned political parties, dissolved Parliament, suspended constitutional rights, and even decreed the censorship of Pericles' great funeral oration to the Athenians as recorded by Thucydides. The king was forced into exile after the German invasion of Greece in April 1941, going first to Crete, then to Alexandria, and finally to London. After the war republican sentiments again threatened his throne, but he was restored by a plebiscite supervised by the Allies and returned to Greece in September 1946. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his brother Paul.

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Universalium. 2010.

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