War on the Home Front: living in a wartime economy 1792-1815

Painting

The Morning After the Battle of Waterloo by John Heaviside Clark, 1816

On 18 June 1815, a coalition under Wellington, consisting of troops from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hanover, Brunswick, and Nassau, combined with a Prussian army under Blücher to meet and defeat Napoleon’s army at Waterloo.  This victory, while not immediately ending the war, effectively put an end to almost a quarter of a century of continuous warfare between England and France.  By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the national debt of England stood at £848,000,000, almost 240% of GDP.  How, with a population only about half that of France, was the United Kingdom able to finance 23 years of worldwide war and how did it affect the British economy and the average citizen?

Financing the Wars

As 1792 ended, the British economy already was responding to the challenges caused by previous war spending.  Unlike America, where the printing of large quantities of paper money during the Revolutionary War led to hyperinflation, an undermining of public confidence, and almost brought the American war effort to a halt, Continue reading

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In Honor of the King’s Birthday

Yesterday was the birthday of George III.  In honor of that, we bring you proof that the Georgian monarchs did not spring to life fully grown!

Drawing of George III of England as a small boy.

George III of England as a small boy. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2015

The drawing is of a small boy seated on the floor, reading, under a tent constructed from two chairs and some fabric. A banner bearing the initials ‘GR’ is to the left. A sword, dagger and gun lie on the floor and a bell is suspended above the boy’s head. An inscription records that the picture was taken from the life on Monday 6 July. The boy has been identified as Prince George, later George III. The drawing was probably made in 1747, when 6 July fell on a Monday, and therefore shows the Prince at the age of nine.

© Chuck Hudson  2015