The Regency era in the United Kingdom is the period between 1811—when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son, the Prince of Wales, ruled as his proxy as Prince Regent—and 1820, when the Prince Regent became George IV on the death of his father.
The term Regency era sometimes refers to a more extended time frame than the decade of the formal Regency. The period between 1795 and 1837 (the latter part of the reign of George III and the reigns of his sons George IV, as Prince Regent and King, and William IV) was characterized by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture. If Regency era is being used to describe the transition between Georgian and Victorian eras, the focus is on the pre-Victorian period from 1811, when the formal Regency began, through 1837 when Queen Victoria succeeded William IV. If, however, Regency era is being contrasted with the Eighteenth century, then the period includes the later French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
The era was a time of excess for the aristocracy: for example, it was during this time that the Prince Regent built the Brighton Pavilion. However, it was also an era of uncertainty caused by several factors including the Napoleonic wars, periodic riots, and the concern (threat to some, hope to others) that the British people might imitate the upheavals of the French Revolution.
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“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)