Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/153

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George I
George I
147

(see memoirs and correspondence of the Electress Sophia and her niece). Whether guilty or not (and no known evidence of her guilt exists, except in a correspondence of disputable authenticity), the Electoral Princess Sophia Dorothea was accused of a criminal intrigue with Count Philip von Königsmark, a Swedish adventurer of family, who had recently been in the Hanoverian military service. Whatever were the circumstances of the crime perpetrated in the palace at Hanover on the night of 1 July 1674, in which Königsmark vanished for ever from the sight of man, George Lewis at least, who had not yet returned from a journey to Berlin, had no hand in it. We may readily distrust the assertion of his relentless censor, the Duchess of Orleans (Correspondance, tr. par Brunet, 1869, i. 379), that he was wont to glory in its commission. Against the princess, who had previously attempted to quit Hanover and had manifestly meditated a second flight with Königsmark's help, sentence of divorce was pronounced on the ground of malicious desertion, and she was detained a prisoner at Ahlden, near Celle, till her death, 3 Nov. 1726. George henceforth knew her name no more; but she was not maltreated in her place of banishment, and on her death he, though reluctantly, allowed her to be buried with her parents at Celle (Havemann, iii. 510). Horace Walpole's gossip about the king having been prophetically warned that he would not survive her a year (Reminiscences, p. ciii) is not worth repeating; but we may believe that George's hatred of his son was largely due to his knowledge of the son's regard for the mother.

In 1694 George Lewis began to take part in the government of the electorate, owing to the feeble health of his father, whom he succeeded on 23 Jan. 1698. The Celle dominions, which supported a military force about equal to the Hanoverian, did not fall in till seven years later; but already, 9 Jan. 1699, Leopold I had invested him with the electoral dignity. Finally, in 1708, his exertions on behalf of the grand alliance were rewarded by the long-delayed introduction of the elector of Hanover into the college of electors at the imperial diet, and in 1710 the hereditary arch-treasurership of the empire was conferred upon him. His influence, further strengthened by his fœdus perpetuum with Brandenburg (1700), by the reconciliation of the younger with the elder line of the House of Brunswick (1705), and by the Prussian marriage of his daughter (1706), increased with his honours (see Havemann, iii. 400, as to his bold intervention on behalf of the protestant estates at Hildesheim, and as to the French offer of support in case he should income a candidate on the next election to the imperial throne).

In 1699 he was first brought into personal contact with the question of the succession to the English throne. After the failure of William III in 1689 to include the Duchess Sophia and her descendants by name in the succession, no further step could for sometime be taken in the matter by Sophia, her husband, or her son. A rather complicated series of negotiations, however, began with the visit of William III to George William of Celle at his hunting-seat of the Göhrde in 1698, at which George Lewis was present (Klopp, viii. 245-8; cf. Malortie, iii. 147 seq.) In all these transactions the elector and his mother seem to have entirely identified their interests and conduct. The death of the young Duke of Gloucester (30 July 1700) brought the Hanover line to the front, and the act of 1701 definitely settled the succession, in default of issue from Anne and William, upon the Electress Sophia and her heirs, being protestant.

Meanwhile the elector of Hanover played an increasingly important part in the military affairs of Europe. In 1699 his troops helped to protect the Holstein Gottorp territory against Denmark, and thus to bring about the peace of Travendahl in the following year. In 1701 Hanover and Celle joined the grand alliance: and after the death of William III, its author, when there was some talk of George Lewis succeeding him in the stadholdership, they, in return for subsidies, placed more than ten thousand men under Marlborough's command, and furnished five regiments of horse to the States-General. Leibniz thought that the elector himself ought to have been appointed to the captain-generalship of the British forces (Kemble, p. 269). About this time (1702) Toland visited Hanover and Herrenhausen, and published his impressions three years afterwards. With the exception of certain palpable flatteries intended for the English market, his statements tally with other accounts. The elector is described as a popular prince, equitable in administration, frugal and punctual in his payments, a perfect man of business, but spending much time with his mistresses. Toland extols his military knowledge and personal courage, adding that he cares little for any diversion but hunting, and is very reserved in manner. He was not to be surpassed 'in his zeal against the intended universal monarchy of France, and was so most hearty for the common cause of Europe' (Toland, p. 70).

Marlborough visited Hanover in 1704 and 1705, and easily persuaded the elector to discountenance the tory scheme of bringing his mother over to England (suggestions to the