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Why did the political influence of the Crown become more controversial after 1760?

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Ian Bishop Why did the political influence of the Crown become more controversial after 1760? The accession of George II to the British throne in 1760 marked the beginning of an important era in royal affairs. The actions he took, and the events to which he had to respond during his reign raised important constitutional issues relating to the monarchy. Obvious challenges to the security of Britain in the form of the Seven Years War and ultimately the wars against France were clearly going to promote some constitutional questioning in Britain, for few nations could avoid the political-intellectual power of the French Revolution, yet perhaps the most significant factor in determining the role of the crown into the nineteenth century was to be prompted more by domestic affairs in Britain prior to this date. George II acceded to the throne at a difficult time for Britain. The Seven Years War, begun in 1756, was continuing in full force. The increasing burdens of war, made particularly great by Britain's policy of heavily subsidising its ally, Prussia, were becoming a strain upon the country. In this climate of economic difficulty and some significant political instability, George took on of his first, and most ill-advised actions: he appointed Bute as his chief minister. ...read more.


It is at this point that I believe we begin to see the most significant aspect of George's reign in terms of controversy. By effectively imposing the Bute ministry and therefore demonstrating contempt for Parliament, George risked destroying the keystone of British political stability: that is, the use of Parliament as the focus for political debate. The rise of extra-parliamentary radicalism, epitomised by John Wilkes, demonstrates the dangers of undermining Parliament's role as an agreed forum and container for political disagreement. George III had placed the monarchy so squarely in the political arena that he left his opponents no real choice but direct attack upon crown. George's actions led to calls for constitutional change. Edmund Burke argued that the King should give his power to the Cabinet, and that ultimately the King could be replaced in his role as a bonding agent with the organisation of groups upon agreed principles, thus foreshadowing the basis of the modern party system. His opponents accused George of intriguing to reassert the royal prerogative. In truth, this was not the case, for George had had no contact with Bute since 1766, nor were his friends his agents, but rather they were those who looked to him for leadership. ...read more.


It was only the overwhelming public support of the Pitt administration in the 1784 general election which saved the scheme. After this most dangerous of actions, George III did little more to demonstrate his power. Though many of Pitt's ideas were unwelcome to him, he contented himself with criticism and quiet grumblings. Pitt could not survive without the King, and without Pitt the King would be at the mercy of Fox. Thus they compromised, but the compromise left most power, with George's willing assent, with Pitt. Such power-brokering could not be left as a possibility in the British constitution, and George's use of it to create the Pitt government did in fact represent the relative conditional weakness of the monarchy. It was a controversial move in that it would force longer term consideration of the powers of the monarch. Perhaps the only reason such a move was tolerated was due to the popularity and successes of the Pitt government, the later confusion of war with France, and the sympathy with the ailing monarch in his dotage who seemed to embody what it was Britain was fighting to defend against the French Revolutionaries. 2,250 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 1 ...read more.

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