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George I (George-Louis; German: Georg-Ludwig; May 28/June7, 1660 – June 11, 1727) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 23 January 1698 until his death in 1727. He was the first British monarch of the House of Hanover. Under the old Julian Calendar (OS for Old Style) George I was born May 28 1660. When the Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian Calendar (NS for New Style) his birthday was recognized as being June 7, 1660.

George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Imperial Elector of Hanover and of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

George was born in the city of Hanover in the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire. He was the eldest son of Ernst-August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and his wife, Sophia of the Palatinate of the Rhine. Sophia was the granddaughter of King James I of England through her mother, Elizabeth Stuart of England. Sophie’s father was Friedrich V.; (1596-1632) was the Elector Palatine of the Rhine in the Holy Roman Empire from 1610 to 1623, and reigned as King of Bohemia from 1619 to 1620. He was forced to abdicate both roles, and the brevity of his reign in Bohemia earned him the derisive sobriquet “the Winter King.”

Sophia of the Palatinate of the Rhine, Electress of Hanover and Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Mother)

Ernst-August, Elector of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Father)

For the first year of his life, George was the only heir to the German territories of his father and three childless uncles. George’s brother, Friedrich-August, was born in 1661, and the two boys (known as Görgen and Gustchen by the family) were brought up together. Their mother was absent for almost a year (1664–65) during a long convalescent holiday in Italy, but corresponded regularly with her sons’ governess and took a great interest in their upbringing, even more so upon her return. Sophia bore Ernst-August another four sons and a daughter. In her letters, Sophia describes George as a responsible, conscientious child who set an example to his younger brothers and sisters.

Friedrich V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine in the Holy Roman Empire, King of Bohemia

By 1675 George’s eldest uncle had died without issue, but his remaining two uncles had married, putting George’s inheritance in jeopardy as his uncles’ estates might pass to their own sons, should they have had any, instead of to George.

In 1679 another uncle died unexpectedly without sons, and Ernst-August became reigning Duke of Calenberg-Göttingen, with his capital at Hanover. George’s surviving uncle, Georg-Wilhelm of Celle, had married his mistress in order to legitimise his only daughter, Sophia-Dorothea, but looked unlikely to have any further children. Under Salic law, where inheritance of territory was restricted to the male line, the succession of George and his brothers to the territories of their father and uncle now seemed secure. In 1682, the family agreed to adopt the principle of primogeniture, meaning George would inherit all the territory and not have to share it with his brothers.

Ernest-Augustus, Duke of York (Brother)

The same year, George married his first cousin, Sophia-Dorothea of Brunswick-Celle, thereby securing additional incomes that would have been outside Salic laws. The marriage of state was arranged primarily as it ensured a healthy annual income and assisted the eventual unification of Hanover and Celle. His mother at first opposed the marriage because she looked down on Sophia Dorothea’s mother, Eleonore (who came from lower nobility), and because she was concerned by Sophia-Dorothea’s legitimated status. She was eventually won over by the advantages inherent in the marriage.

Sophia-Dorothea of Brunswick-Celle

In 1683 George and his brother Friedrich-August served in the Great Turkish War at the Battle of Vienna, and Sophia-Dorothea bore George a son, Georg-August. The following year, Friedrich-August was informed of the adoption of primogeniture, meaning he would no longer receive part of his father’s territory as he had expected. This led to a breach between Friedrich-August and his father, and between the brothers, that lasted until his death in battle in 1690.

With the imminent formation of a single Hanoverian state, and the Hanoverians’ continuing contributions to the Empire’s wars, Ernst-August was made an Imperial-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire in 1692. George’s prospects were now better than ever as the sole heir to his father’s electorate and his uncle’s duchy.

George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Imperial Elector of Hanover and of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

Sophia-Dorothea had a second child, a daughter named after her, in 1687, but there were no other pregnancies. The couple became estranged—George preferred the company of his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg.