But of course, whenwe think of King George III,
we think first of hisso-called madness–
the recurring bouts ofterrible mental illness
which affected the kingfrom 1788 until the end of his life.
For many years, the causeof the king’s illness
was believed to be an inheritedcondition called porphyria.
But very recent researchhas shed some doubt on that.
George III had three very serious episodes of insanity.
We don’t knowexactly what it was.
People have come up withdifferent ideas over the years.
For a long time,it was porphyria.
People now like to talk moreabout a bipolar disorder,
which is also possible.
But what is certain is thathe had serious insanity for these periods.
The loss of the American colonies
dealt a extremely severepsychological blow to the king.
Just imagine you havethis huge empire. Territorially,
it was the biggest empire the world had seen since Rome.
And then suddenly, a whole part of it is just lopped off.
It’s gone. It’s vanished.
It’s not part of Britain anymore.
It was a trait of his
that if he allowed himself to be upset by something,
he really went into adeep state of melancholy.
And this was the biggestshake-up of his life
that he’d had to that date.
He lost a tremendous amount of land,
a tremendous amount of territorywhich belonged to Britain.
And so that was apersonal failure.
And George saw it asa personal failure.
And in fact, he evendrafted a resignation letter
which he never submitted.
But it’s unlikely thathe ever fully recovered
from this terrible loss.