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<a href="/content/George_IV_of_the_United_Kingdom" style="color:blue">Prince George</a> by <a href="/content/Thomas_Lawrence" style="color:blue">Lawrence</a> (c. 1814)
Prince George by Lawrence (c. 1814)

The Regency in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a period at the end of the Georgian era, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule due to his illness, and his son ruled as his proxy, as prince regent. Upon George III's death in 1820, the prince regent became King George IV. The term Regency (or Regency era) can refer to various stretches of time; some are longer than the decade of the formal Regency which lasted from 1811 to 1820. The period from 1795 to 1837, which includes the latter part of George III's reign and the reigns of his sons George IV and William IV, is sometimes regarded as the Regency era, characterised by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture. It ended in 1837 when Queen Victoria succeeded William IV.


The Regency is noted for its elegance and achievements in the fine arts and architecture. This era encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic change. War was waged with Napoleon and on other fronts, affecting commerce both at home and internationally, as well as politics. However, despite the bloodshed and warfare, the Regency was also a period of great refinement and cultural achievement, which shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain as a whole.

One of the greatest patrons of the arts and architecture was the Prince Regent himself (the future George IV). Upper class society flourished in a sort of mini-Renaissance of culture and refinement. As one of the greatest patrons of the arts, the Prince Regent ordered the costly building and refurbishing of the beautiful and exotic Brighton Pavilion, the ornate Carlton House, as well as many other public works and architecture (see John Nash, James Burton, and Decimus Burton). Naturally, this required dipping into the treasury, and the Regent, and later, the King's exuberance often outstripped his pocket, at the people's expense.[2]

Society during that period was considerably stratified. In many ways, there was a dark counterpart to the beautiful and fashionable sectors of England of this time. In the dingier, less affluent areas of London, thievery, womanising, gambling, the existence of rookeries, and constant drinking ran rampant.[3] The population boom—comprising an increase from just under a million in 1801 to one and a quarter million by 1820[3]—created a wild, roiling, volatile, and vibrant scene. According to Robert Southey, the difference between the strata of society was vast indeed:

Driving these changes were not only money and rebellious pampered youth, but also significant technological advancements. In 1814, The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could now print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand.[5] This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels in which publishers spread the stories, rumours, and flaunting of the rich and aristocratic, not so secretly hinting at the specific identity of these individuals. The gap in the hierarchy of society was so great that those of the upper classes could be viewed by those below as wondrous and fantastical fiction, something entirely out of reach yet tangibly there.

In recent decades, historians have used social and cultural history to study crime and criminal justice as a major aspect of social history. Studies of criminality, criminal trials, punishment, legislation, and penal reform have focused especially on England, with special attention to London. The issues addressed include how the middle and working classes used the judicial system to their own advantage, even though it was controlled by a small upper-class. The influence of the emerging industrial revolution had attracted attention to crime in rapidly growing cities.[6]



The following is a list of places associated with the Regency era:[8]

Important people

For more names see Newman (1997).[18]

Newspapers, pamphlets, and publications


See also

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