From the Emperor’s Desk: After yesterday’s brief history Of the Kingdom of Hanover, I wanted to address how the monarchs of Hanover are numbered. This is an expansion of a portion of a larger article on numbering German monarchs in general I posted back in May of 2012.
Coat of Arms of Prince Ernst-August of Hanover (b.1954)
One of the places where there is a discrepancy in numbering of monarchs is the Electorate and Kingdom of Hanover. Prior to its elevation as a kingdom, Hanover was an Imperial Electorate within the Holy Roman Empire ruled by a cadet line of the House of Guelph that ruled the various Brunswick duchies.
Prince Ernst-August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince-Elector of Hanover
In 1692 Emperor Leopold I installed Prince Ernst-August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg as Prince-Elector of Hanover as a reward for his service to the Emperor during the Great Turkish War, also known as the War of the Holy League. In 1698 Elector Ernst-August was succeeded by his eldest son who became Elector Georg-Ludwig of Hanover.
In 1701 The Act of Settlement was passed in the Parliament of England that settle the succession to the English and Irish crowns on Protestants only. The next Protestant in line to the throne after William III and his heir, Anne, was the Electress Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI-I of England, Scotland and Ireland and the wife of Elector Ernst-August.
Elector Georg-Ludwig’s mother, the Electress Sophia, died on May 28, 1714 at the age of 83. She had collapsed in the gardens at Herrenhausen after rushing to shelter from a shower of rain. Georg-Ludwig, Elector of Hanover and was now Queen Anne’s heir presumptive.
On August 1, 1714 came the death of Queen Anne of Great Britain, and in accordance with the provisions of the Act of Settelment of 1701 in England and Scotland and by virtue of Article II of the Treaty of Union, which defined the succession to the throne of Great Britain, Elector Georg-Ludwig became King George of Great Britain.
George I, King of Great Britain, Prince-Elector of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
During his reign King George was not known as King George I. Under the British tradition of numbering their monarchs, a monarch will not get a ordinal number until there is another monarch with the same name. That is why you do not see Queen Victoria being called Queen Victoria I. When and if there is a Queen Victoria II, only then will the first Queen Victoria become known as Queen Victoria I. The same goes with king’s Stephen, John and Queen Anne.
In Hanover and Great Britain the numbering for these King-Electors was the same. In 1727 King-Elector George was succeeded by his son as George II (and George obtained the ordinal “I”) and in 1760 George II’s grandson succeeded him as George III.
In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire came to an end and Hanover became part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, a puppet state founded by Napoleon. After the defeat of Napoleon the Congress of Vienna restored George III to his Hanoverian territories and elevated Hanover to a Kingdom, since the title Imperial Elector was now obsolete given the fact there was no longer a Holy Roman Emperor to elect.
With Hanover now a kingdom, instead of starting a new numbering sequence for the Kings of Hanover, George III still retained his ordinal number in Hanover as well as Great Britain. In 1820 George III was succeeded by his son who became George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Hanover. In 1830 George IV was succeeded by his brother William IV who was known as King Wilhelm of Hanover.
George III, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, King of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Since succession to the crown of Hanover was governed by the Salic Law which barred women from inheriting the throne, the personal union between the United Kingdom and Hanover ended in 1837 with the death of William IV. William IV was succeeded in the United by his niece, Victoria, who reigned in Britain until 1901 and gave her name to the entire era.
In Hanover the crown of Hanover went to another brother of William IV, Prince Ernest-Augustus, Duke of Cumberland…..and became King Ernst-August (1837-1851) without an ordinal.
This is where it gets tricky. In my view the new Hanoverian King should have been been called Ernst-August II because the dynasty of Hanover began with Elector Ernst-August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1692. There are two ways to view this situation. Since the first Ernst-August was only an Elector in 1692 and never a King he doesn’t revive an ordinal.
Ernst-August, King of Hanover
His son and successor, King George I, was the first Hanoverian Elector to hold the royal title of King, although he was a King of Great Britain and not a King of Hanover. So it appears that the royal numbering of Hanover follows those with the title of King regardless if the person was not a King of Hanover. Technically George’s I, II and III (until 1814) were Electors of Hanover and not Kings.
Grave of King Georg V of Hanover
That is the inconsistency. It ignores the Elector Ernst-August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. It seems only the name George gets an ordinal number in Hanover. This is exemplified with the accession of Crown Prince Georg of Hanover, son and heir of King Ernst-August, who became King of Hanover as King Georg V (1851-1866). Again, this means the royal numbering of Hanover follows those with the title of King regardless if the person was not a King of Hanover.
It is a minor quibble but an interesting one!