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Hanover and the British Empire, 1700-1837

Hanover and the British Empire, 1700-1837

Nick Harding
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    Hanover and the British Empire, 1700-1837
    Book Description:

    The dynastic union which existed between Great Britain and Hanover between 1714 and 1837 is often seen as simply a subject for diplomatic historians, of not much consequence. In fact, as this book shows, the connection between Great Britain and Hanover was an important theme which featured significantly in political and intellectual writing at the time, both in Hanover and in Britain, especially in discourses, including in pamphlet literature, about the nature of "empire", Britain's empire and Hanover's place within it. The book traces the evolution of such thinking over the entire period of the union, demonstrating that there was a strong European element to British imperial thinking, alongside the well-recognised overseas maritime commercial element. It examines how Hanover affected British policy in Europe throughout the period, and how the British connection affected Hanover, both in periods of peace and periods of warfare, when Hanoverian mercenaries were used extensively by Britain, and when Hanover often felt that its interests were not best served by the British connection. Overall, the book shows that Britain's relationship with Hanover was much deeper and more complex than personal union, and that Europe and Hanover featured very significantly in British imperial thinking. NICK HARDING is Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Florida.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-550-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Note on the text
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Tradition holds that Britain’s interactions with the outside world have been Janus-faced,¹ distinguishing between transoceanic empire and diplomacy on the European continent.² Accordingly, historians have tended to downplay evidence of British empire on the continent. The omission is questionable not merely empirically, but also theoretically, for Europe is geographically and culturally continuous with Asia.³ Europe is, after all, an Asian subcontinent comparable to India,⁴ a familiar subject of British imperial historiography. Including Europe in the history of British empire can solve two stubborn problems. First, it can reduce the cognitive distance between metropolis and periphery that historians of British empire...

  7. 1 Prehistory
    (pp. 15-37)

    When English and Hanoverian observers began to contemplate their prospective union, both did so with reference to their most recent respective imperial experiences. For England, this had been conquest and reconstruction at the hands of William III and the Dutch state. Although most English-men and women continued to support the Revolution settlement against the French-supported Stuarts, they were uneasily aware that it had been imposed by another foreign power. And they extended their ambivalence to the prospect of yet another union with a foreign country. For their part, Hanoverians viewed union with Britain through the prism of the Holy Roman...

  8. 2 Succession
    (pp. 38-76)

    If the Glorious Revolution had overshadowed the prehistory of dynastic union, then the Treaty of Utrecht haunted its early years. Concluded in 1713, a year before the Hanoverian succession, Britain’s separate peace with Louis XIV represented a victory for the proponents of maritime policy. In advance of the treaty, the tory ministry of Robert Harley emphasized the imperial conflict at the expense of its European equivalent. And at Utrecht itself, Britain acquired Nova Scotia and the right to supply the Spanish empire with slaves. While the treaty also left Britain with European possessions in Minorca and Gibraltar, these were important...

  9. 3 Walpole
    (pp. 77-105)

    Robert Walpole’s imperial policy merited Edmund Burke’s later caricature of ‘salutary neglect’, except perhaps when it came to patronage.¹ To the extent that he busied himself with foreign affairs, it was European diplomacy which attracted his attention. Walpole especially favored the language of international affairs (as opposed to empire) when considering Hanover’s relationship to Britain. Walpole and his circle were the first to elaborate the personal union thesis first introduced by James Drake. But where the theory of England’s and Hanover’s countervailing sovereignties had allowed Drake and his heirs to separate the two countries legally and institutionally, it functioned to...

  10. 4 The War of Austrian Succession
    (pp. 106-145)

    The 1740s, during which Britain’s assistance to Maria Theresia displaced its naval war against Spain, might seem to exemplify the distinction between overseas empire and continental diplomacy.¹ But while few historians have questioned the distinction between continental and maritime policy,² contemporaries perceived no such difference. Many British contemporaries would have preferred an empire free of European commitments. But the continental reality remained imperial, whether Hanover sought empire over Britain or vice versa. Further, the latter scenario of British empire over the electorate made great advances in government circles. Hanoverians also began to see advantages in British empire, which had once...

  11. 5 The Seven Years’ War
    (pp. 146-193)

    Continental Europe (and thereby Hanover) became less important to the British Empire during the Seven Years’ War. This was perhaps natural, given that the war originated in North America. It nevertheless spread to Europe, where it quickly surpassed the destructiveness of its transatlantic antecedent. France extended its imperial rivalry with Britain to Hanover, which it occupied in 1757. Hanover’s vulnerability revived interest in personal union, both in Britain and the electorate. But it also prompted Britain to send an army to Hanover, seemingly substantiating imperial interpretations of their relationship. This was the policy of William Pitt the elder, whose maritime...

  12. 6 The American Revolution
    (pp. 194-206)

    The shift in British emphasis from European to extra-European empire, already visible at the end of the Seven Years’ War, arguably caused the American Revolution and certainly intensified during it. If Hanover did not ‘fall back into political irrelevance’ during this period,¹ it did move from intrinsic to extrinsic importance in that it tended to feature as a point of comparison for publicists more interested in Britain’s American empire. Nevertheless, their passing references to Hanover shed light on the nature of its relationship to Britain. Increased references to personal union during the 1760s and 1770s bespeak nostalgia for the Walpole...

  13. 7 The French Revolution
    (pp. 207-233)

    The French Revolution ended a period in which Britain had concentrated on its extra-European empire, and placed the continent at the top of its agenda for the first time since 1760. Similarly, British debate about Hanover reverted to the arguments of mid-century; the electorate was once again intrinsically important, if not mentioned as frequently as before. Strangely, the French Revolution did not introduce an egalitarian strain into British debate over Hanover. There is corroborating evidence for continuity across the watershed of 1789;¹ British radicals followed their predecessors in arguing that Hanover hurt their countrymen irrespective of station. Their omission accentuated...

  14. 8 Napoleon
    (pp. 234-261)

    Britain tremendously expanded its extra-European empire during the Napoleonic period, acquiring Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, and parts of India. It also consolidated its hold over Ireland with a parliamentary union in 1800–1; the relationship with Hanover was the last remaining dynastic tie of the early modern variety. Even this seemed over, as successive occupations of that country by foreign powers effectively interrupted the two countries’ political relationship. In so far as Hanover’s dilemma indirectly resulted from British policy (the failure to evacuate Malta as promised in the Treaty of Amiens), dynastic union continued to attract attention...

  15. 9 Reform
    (pp. 262-282)

    The period after 1815 is the least studied period in the history of Britain’s relationship with Hanover.¹ Historians seem to have assumed that knowledge of the impending end of union, issuing from different laws respecting female succession, reduced the relevance of dynastic union. But this eventuality could appear remote, and observers usually focused upon dynastic union’s contemporary influence. This was most often detected in liberalism, the expansion of the right to participate in formal politics or the economy. George IV’s extension of civil and political rights to Hanoverian Catholics in 1824 made it harder for him to resist similar measures...

  16. Index
    (pp. 283-292)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)