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George III and the Law of Nations - David Armitage

King George III


Usha Kasera Lecture Theatre
Edinburgh Law School
Old College
South Bridge


Thu 5 December 2019

The 2nd Arthur Berriedale Keith Lecture

David Armitage, Harvard University

About the lecture
The British Crown is the apex of the British Commonwealth as it was of the British Empire—a fact of which A. B. Keith, author of the monumental The King and the Imperial Crown (1936), was particularly aware. Yet just how British monarchs experienced ruling such vast and heterogeneous territories and peoples and what tools they used to navigate the challenges of imperial (and, later, Commonwealth) constitutionalism are understudied subjects. This lecture focuses on George III, the monarch who oversaw both the empire’s greatest expansion— in South Asia and North America after the Seven Years’ War—and its first major anticolonial rupture, the American Revolution. In particular, it examines how from his early years as Prince of Wales in the 1750s through to the twilight of his active rulership in the early nineteenth century, George III was educated in constitutionalism and the law of nations, how he gathered and processed information about imperial and international affairs, and how this constitutional and juridical knowledge shaped his understanding of international relations, the American Revolution, and the abolition of slavery, among other pressing contemporary questions. The conclusion will reflect on how the experiences of the first Hanoverian monarch who “gloried in the name of Briton” might be relevant for conceivably the last monarch to rule over a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

About the speaker
is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and an Affiliated Professor at Harvard Law School. He is also an Honorary Professor of History at both the University of Sydney and Queen’s University Belfast and an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He is the author or editor of eighteen books, among them The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007), Foundations of Modern International Thought (2013), The History Manifesto (2014, co-auth.), and Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (2017). He has held fellowships and visiting positions in Australia, Britain, China, France, Germany, South Korea, and the United States, and this year he is the Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King’s College London in association with the Georgian Papers Programme and the Royal Archives.

This event is free and open to all but registration is required (link below).


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Image Credit: Allan Ramsay - vgGv1tsB1URdhg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,

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