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Was King George III Mad?

The Madness of George III

Modern day research into records kept by the king’s doctors and servants suggest that George III wasn’t mad at all. He’s believed to have suffered from Bipolar Disorder. The bleeding, purgatives, confinement and leeches he endured would never have balanced his disordered mind. It’s thought the manic, sometimes violent episodes may have been brought on by the deaths of his two youngest sons. George fathered fifteen children and is said to have been a devoted father. After his sons’ deaths he commissioned a portrait of Alfred and Octavius being welcomed into heaven by angels. It hung where he would see it every day upon rising from his bed. His grief must have been intense.

The French Revolution had thrown Europe into turmoil. The masses were demanding reform. Newspapers containing stories of national and international events were becoming more readily available. Britain had more or less lost the American colonies. It was a challenging and potentially dangerous time to be a king. A letter hand-written by George and found in his royal papers stated that he considered himself a failed monarch and intended to resign. Such an event hadn’t happened in England in over a thousand years and would only have added to the turbulence of the times. It’s an indication of the enormous stress George was under. In the event, abdication did not happen. His eldest son eventually saw an opportunity to gain power for himself and became Regent. And the rest is history!


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