George III and the Law of Nations: The Sons of the American Revolution Annual Lecture 2020, King’s College London
Date(s) - 16/12/2020
5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
This lecture examines how George III, from his early years as Prince of Wales in the 1750s through to the twilight of his active rulership in the early nineteenth century, 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. From an examination of the Georgian Papers at Windsor Castle and the King’s Library at the British Library, a new picture emerges of George III as an unusually thoughtful, engaged, and at times surprisingly radical student of Montesquieu and Blackstone, and hence as a modernising monarch uniquely well equipped to reflect on the changing nature of sovereignty in an age of revolutions.
The lecture was originally scheduled to take place in March at King’s College London, but in the absence of any possibility of holding a live event which could accommodate a large audience, we have agreed with Professor Armitage and the Sons of the American Revolution to hold the event as a live online lecture to be followed by a live Q&A session. The lecture will also be recorded and made available on the GPP website after the event.
The lecture is free to attend, but those wishing to hear it on 16 December and engage in the Q&A need to register on Eventbrite. The lecture will be delivered over Zoom. To sign up, please go to
David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and an Affiliated Faculty Member 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 academic 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.
The Sons of the American Revolution
The Sons of the American Revolution is an historical, educational and patriotic non-profit corporation whose members are direct descendants of the men and women who supported the cause of American Independence during the years 1774-1783. The National Society of the Sons of the Revolution is collaborating with King’s College London to sponsor visiting professorships at the College and hosted by various departments. The visiting professors work on their own research and disseminate their findings relevant to the GPP to academics, archivists and the wider public. The Georgian Papers Programme is very grateful to the Sons of the American Revolution for sponsoring this research opportunity and its ongoing support of the Programme more generally.
Georgian Papers Programme
On April 1, 2015 the Georgian Papers Programme was launched at Windsor Castle in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. A collaboration between King’s College London, founded by George IV, and the Royal Collection Trust, the Programme is digitizing, disseminating, and interpreting an extraordinarily rich collection of materials, including correspondence, maps, and royal household ledgers. The Programme involves a number of international partnerships: notably with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and The College of William and Mary, the primary American partners, and also involves the participation of the Library of Congress, the Washington Library at Mount Vernon, and the Sons of the American Revolution.
The project involves the digitization of many of the historic manuscripts from the Georgian period, totalling more than 425,000 pages, of which only about 15% have previously been published; already, more than 100,000 are available on our award-winning websites. While the vast majority of the collection comprises papers from George III and George IV, papers from Kings George I, George II, and William IV are also being made available.
It is hoped that the work will transform the understanding of Georgian Britain and its monarchy, at a time of profound cultural, political, economic and social change which created the modern nation.